Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Little Picture That Shouldn't

There has been word that Little Miss Sunshine might prove spoiler come Sunday night at the Oscars for Best Picture. I'm sure there are lots of people who would just be giddy to see this cute little feel-good film take the top honor.

But not me.

Why? Because Little Miss Sunshine is nothing more than a cute little feel-good film. There seems to be some confusion between movies that make you feel good and good movies. Are they mutually exclusive? No. But when I saw Little Miss Sunshine I thought it was a nice movie. Not a great movie. A nice movie. I laughed at how crass Alan Arkin's character was and I laughed at the end when the little girl did her unexpected dance. Steve Carell did a nice job and I'm always a fan of Greg Kinnear. It was a road-trip movie with pretty cut-and-dry characters. No real complexities or heavy layers. And don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie. But let's not make it more than it is. And you know what? I'll hate the movie then. The little feel-good movie will be the movie I bad-mouth at every opportunity because if it wins Best Picture, it didn't deserve it. That's how I'm wired, good or bad.

So when I heard that it could prove spoiler, I thought oh no, here we go again. Last year, Oscar did the same thing with Crash. It was the unexpected. It was the underdog. You could practically feel the momentum gaining for Crash during the ceremony. Crash was hardly a feel good movie and I would argue that it wasn't even a really good movie. Unless you love plot-lines that are about 20 years old and a script written with one of the heaviest hands in Hollywood.

I can see the thinking. Voters checking the Little Miss Sunshine box thinking they are sending a message that says "hey, Oscar likes independent movies." And that's a load of crap. The Oscars shouldn't be about sending messages or making up for past mistakes (Scorsese anyone?) or trying to create a good headline "The Little Picture That Could" or "The Sun Shines On Little Miss Sunshine" or "Little Miss Golden Sunshine" or "Not a cloud in the sky, Little Miss Sunshine wins Best Picture." It should be about awarding the best movie, the best performance, the best writing, the best whatever for that year. It seems that it has become a political mess. And giving top honors to the feel good movie when it isn't deserving isn't going to make me feel any better about Oscar.

10 comments:

sammyray said...

EXACTLY ... this movie was nothing but a collection of quirks animated by some good and well-liked actors. Totally stupid "storyline." I must admit I did laugh at Abigail Breslin's dance at the end, though...

* (asterisk) said...

Jeez, I thought Crash was lame lame lame, man. Not seen Sunshine yet, but I can't see it grabbing Best Pic. I thought Crash was a shoo-in, though, despite not liking it. Oscar loves a "message film", such as Babel, for example...

Moviezzz said...

Glad I'm not alone in disliking the film.

Am I the only one who remembers NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION? SUNSHINE stole many of the jokes, and wasn't as funny. It wasn't even as funny as an episode of THE OFFICE, or TALK SOUP, or MURIEL'S WEDDING or anything any member of the cast was involved in.

Not to mention the way it beat some of the jokes into the ground (how many times did we have to see them run after the van? It wasn't that funny the first time).

Still, I'd rather see SUNSHINE win than BABEL.

Piper said...

You're right about National Lampoons Vacation. The movie where they sneak Arkins body out the window was less impactful because I had seen it done before.

Just for the record though, I didn't hate the movie. It was a nice movie.

Haven't seen Babel so I don't know how I feel about it. The Departed would make me feel all warm and cuddly, but still it's not without its flaws. I still would feel they are picking the lesser of all evils.

garrett said...

Good point and one i havent heard before. I liked the movie, thought it was cute, funny and was very simple. There are movies like this every year or two but they are never considered when Oscar time comes around. What is it about this movie that has gained so much attention? Is it because Steve Carrell is featured? I enjoyed the the movie and would watch it again but does it deserve to be awarded the highest level of achievment for the year? No. It deserves to be just that, a nice, special, cute film.

Anonymous said...

Once again Piper, I'm not sure where you are coming from. Feel Good movies ARE good movies. If a movie makes you experience a feeling the director was going for, then they have done an outstanding job. Jeesh, and you call Tim Burton a Hack!

Piper said...

Once again Anonymous you're misquoting me. Didn't say it wasn't a good movie.

And you're write. If a movie makes you feel a certain way, it is a good movie. Sixteen candles makes me feel great, but does that mean it deserves Best Picture? Nah.

And I didn't call Tim Burton a hack. And since you're visiting, I would say that Batman is not brilliant, it is dated. And Batman Begins is way better.

Thanks for visiting. This is fun.

Steve said...

I'd have to agree with you, Mr. Piper. I thought LMS was really good, and fun, and different.Loved the super-long dinner table scene. Can't pull that off in a major. I never thought That was the best movie I've ever seen!, but it was really good.

I've seen all the nominees and as much as I'd wanted to poo-poo Scorsese's latest (Gangs + Aviator, in my opinion, were too self-indulgent, and while examples of good movie-making, weren't good movies), I just couldn't. It was really good. Babel's really good in a Crash, Magnolia, Short Cuts kind of way. The Queen was better than I thought and really good. Letters didn't stick with me, although I'd have to give Ken Watanabe a Best Actor nod - he was great. I think switch out LMS with United 93 and you got yourself a ballgame (or a Best Director category). Even though the Academy took a risk with LMS, U93 would have been a bigger one.

It's funny to look back even one year to see the nominees and think: they weren't really ALL that good...

Alex Billington said...

I agree with you, too. I'm at least glad that it got nominated and is being recognized as "the little indie that could," but I don't think it should win. It's the kind of movie that at least is showing indies that turn out great get recognition, but it's not the kind that will anything major in the end (at least I hope not). It would be a pretty big upset if it wins.

There is only one winner, and the rest are only noms. And there are plenty of of movies that I think deserve to be up for Best Picture too, but those all become recognized as the ones that didn't win Best Picture in the end. But that doesn't mean I still can't recognize their excellence. And that's where I think LMS fits best.

brian said...

Everybody thought Eddie Murphy had it sewn up. And then, out of nowhere, Alan Arkin won best supporting actor.

I thought both performances were really good.