In 1999, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Sexiest Man Alive, blah blah blah) gave us a gem of a movie – in the form of Fight Club. And as Heath Ledger’s now-immortal character would comment – Everybody went crazy. Not because the movie was about blood & gore – enough to inspire a minor riot (it was… in retrospect). But also because the movie went beyond the “Awwww sho cute” of traditional cinema.
I was nine years old at the time, blissfully lost in the romantic escapades of SRK in Single Screen Movie Halls. We were acutely aware of the existence of this distant concept called Hollywood – the only connection in essence being the fact that Bollywood was Hollywood with a B. And the Academy Awards – now conveniently retitled as The Oscars (I suspect that the Indian Colloquial Influence factor played a role here) – were a set of awards from which our own Filmfare must have been inspired. At least, that’s what my nine-year old self was aware of.
Then I grew up. And again, as Heath Ledger would say – I went crazy.
I discovered Martin Scorsese, Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and this whole new breed of rebels behind IMAX Cameras (Funny story- My friend Gaurav was telling me the other day, about how Anne Hathaway managed to crash one out of the only four IMAX cameras in the world during the Rises shoot. But then – come on. She wore that leather suit. She can be excused!). Anyway – these directors & storytellers did not seem to be bound by the laws of simplicity which had come to govern modern cinema.
Case in point – The recent Bollywood flick featuring Varun Dhawan (Badlapur). I thought the movie was doing really well – until the frame where the director decided to include an element of uninvited righteousness. For years at a stretch, we have been obsessed with this weird fetish of Happy, uninspired, simple endings. The hero must win, Good must prevail over evil, and all that jazz. And then on the other side – there’s the new bunch.
Blood Diamond – The main guy dies. The Departed – Everybody dies. And Fight Club took it a step further. They didn’t tell us if the lead guy lives or dies. Edward Norton clasps Helena Bonham Carter’s hand and says “You’ve met me at a very strange time of my life.” and the music kicks in. And the buildings start blowing up around them. The credit system falls to ashes, celebrating the rise of independent lunacy.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a Cinematic experience which is as powerful. (Those probably are just overwhelming thoughts – I mean, yes. I cry when I watch Titanic Reruns and Rose has to let go of Jack’s hand.)
But the point is – it’s tough to beat that kind of cinema. And if you have seen the movie, I think you’ll interpret the rest of this article the way I want you to. All said & done, since Fight Club established itself as a thinking man’s erotica, it should have won the Oscars – right?
In 1999, beating Fight Club to take away the golden lady, was none other than the Kevin Spacey flick American Beauty. Why? As per a series of Quora Answers here, one user has excellently observed that the Oscars have always been about neat, crisp, clear scripts- ones where at least one protagonist lives, ones where romance/patriotism are overtly justified at the end, and of-course, ones which are simple enough for a larger section of our audiences to understand.
1999 wasn’t a one-off setting either. As recently as today – in the 87th Academy Awards (or Oscars) – The superbly crafted Interstellar by Christopher Nolan wasn’t even nominated in the category for Best Picture. And that might just have been the reason for this outburst. So if there are any American Beauty fans out there – I think a simple sorry will do well to rest my case.
For others like me – dear fans of Nolan, Scorsese & Ritchie – if you, too think that there’s something fundamentally wrong in the acknowledgement of one section of cinema by mere virtue of it’s simplicity – and the total ignorance of another section because it’s different and takes a little more grey cells to comprehend – be angry with me. Let’s be angry together. Let’s go apeshit crazy. Let us….. remember that The Dark Knight didn’t win in 2008 either. And of course, our man Leo is still to get his hands around the golden lady.
Do you have a list of movies that should have won an Oscar according to you but didn’t? Feel free to add your thoughts in comments.
About the Author: Shomprakash Sinha Roy is a bestselling author of Fiction & Non-Fiction in India, winning accolades such as the Whistling Woods Young Achiever Award in 2013 & Getting nominated to the Forbes Influencers List in 2014. He is 24 years old, and a Tongue-in-Cheek Sly Devil who doesn’t fail in the act of weird repartee. He lives alone, in Bangalore & spends time criticizing his own books, most of which are available at http://tr.im/shom
He rants on facebook, at http://facebook.com/BrandShom.
Twitter : http://twitter.com/thenewauthor