I know my last post was a rant and I know I sometimes get too soap-boxy in this space, so I apologize in advance for this post, but it has to happen. I’m getting back on my soap box and I’m now going to stop talking to you, Pal, and address some important folks in the entertainment business.
Dear Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
Congratulations! The nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards are out and by most accounts you got it right this year. Critics seem to agree the nominated films and performances recognize the best in movies rather than the best in “for your consideration” campaigns, and there’s plenty of diversity in the mix to help you begin to shake that whole #OscarsSoWhite thing.
Now, can we talk about next steps? The real decision-making starts now and I’d like to get radical and strongly suggest that you surprise everyone with your Best Picture choice and not give it to La La Land. Nothing against La La Land, I’ve seen it twice, and it’s a tasty morsel of cinematic confection; beautiful to behold and impeccably made. But this is not the time for La La Land, as great as it may be, because we are living in dangerous times. On November 8, the American electorate made a wildly bizarre choice and the doomsday clock was moved the closest it’s been to midnight since 1953, and now the whole world sits on the edge of our collective seats, watching a freak show unfold while chewing our nails and clenching our sphincters.
This is no time for singing and dancing.
This is time for a statement.
There is a certain film up for Best Picture that can be that statement. I’m not going to say it’s better than La La Land, but it is bigger, bolder and brainier. It’s more important and more profound. That film is…Arrival, the cerebral and thrilling science fiction film starring Amy Adams as a linguistic professor tasked with finding a way to communicate with a newly-arrived alien species.
I know it’s a longshot but hear me out. I’m asking that Hollywood Meryl Streep the shit out of this situation and give Washington a smack upside the head. I’m asking that you stare down a bully with his fake news and “alternative facts” and make a statement of truth and purpose. I’m asking that you award a film that is a perfect counterpoint to so much that’s going on right now, a film that is everything the new president isn’t.
As the president drags political discourse into the gutter and shits in its mouth, Arrival eloquently explores the connection between the complexity of language and sophistication of thought.
As the president validates evidence-hating climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers, Arrival knows that truth is found through scientific inquiry and the collection of facts.
As the president builds walls out of hatred and discrimination, Arrival shows that a truly evolved species does not waste time and resources bickering over political borders, skin colour and religion.
As the president feeds off the worst human instincts, Arrival is a tribute to the potential of humankind.
As the thin-skinned president thinks small and petty thoughts, Arrival thinks big.
Plus – it also happens to be a really exciting movie with plenty of intrigue and surprise, great acting, a perfect score and a killer ending. It’s exciting and emotional, and it would be a great choice for Best Picture no matter who’s in the White House.
There is a particularly potent and stressful moment in Arrival when 12 computer screens one by one blink to black and I fear the world is moving toward that moment for real.
So what do you say, Academy? Do you want to do the obvious thing and go all La La on us, or do you want to make a statement that may, in some small way, help turn those screens back on?