I am used to a certain built-in detachment from reality when it comes to Oscar predictions.
For example, right now there is a consensus forming that The Help is looking like a good bet for a Picture nomination, while Drive is not getting talked up much outside of Albert Brooks' performance. And you know what? I get it. Bright and feel-good beats dark and strange every time. Even when one is masterful and the other is ineptitude propped up by great actors. Fine. Whatever. I expected nothing better.
But - BUT - you can only push good taste so far before it digs in its heels, puts up its dukes and declares it will take this abuse no longer. At this moment movie writers across the web are taking seriously Harry Potter's chances at a Picture nomination, while at the same time there is nary a word, barely a tiny flea-sized peep, for Asghar Farhadi's A Separation outside of the foreign language category, even though it has been roundly declared a masterpiece by pretty much everyone who's laid eyes on it.
This will not stand.
When folks start writing seriously about Harry Potter as a Best Picture contender I feel I might lose it like Sarah Jessica Parker's character from Ed Wood and start shouting,
"You people are insane. You're wasting your time on shit. These movies are TERRIBLE!"
Okay, terrible is way too strong. I've already detailed my disappointment with the series here. There were some highlights to be sure, especially once Chris Columbus was thrown overboard, and there was an undeniable charge to an eighth installment made up entirely of action and emotional payoffs, but when it comes to intelligent people considering any Potter film as a contender for the top honor my indignation stands. That way madness lies.
I cannot follow the logic that says crossing the finish line, and exceeding expectations in the final installment, somehow granted the franchise "due" status. The Academy doesn't meet in a giant conference room and decide to throw certain films a bone after securing nominations for the all the really worthy films. A Picture nomination for Hallows would mean hundreds of people picking up a ballot after watching The Descendants and The Artist and Tree of Life and Moneyball and whatever else you can name and saying to hell with all of them and placing Harry Potter at the top of the list. Give me a break. If that happens I will eat all 759 pages of Deathly Hallows with barbecue sauce.
So I humbly request that going forward everybody diverts their efforts from analyzing the Oscar prospects of The Boy Who Lived and turn them towards reminding everybody that A Separation is eligible in all categories. Here - I'm no great shakes at graphic design but I will get the ball rolling:
There now. Doesn't that feel better?
We are going into the third year with the expanded Best Picture category and still have not seen a foreign title nominated. What's the point of adding more slots if an unequivocal masterpiece can't make the cut even if it is in Persian and has a lousy release date? So let the word go forth: A Separation for Best Picture!