By Cory Waltrip, editor-in-chief
The Academy Awards is trying to be something that it’s not, hip and “indie.” They need to leave that to the famed Sundance and other film festivals. So I was extremely disappointed when Michael Douglas announced that The Artist won the award for Best Picture.
Although I have not seen the silent film, I have viewed several of the other nominated movies, and I was struck immensely by one. The Descendants deserved to win Best Picture, and George Clooney absolutely earned the right to be awarded Best Actor In A Leading Role. The fact that this wasn’t the case is an absolute travesty and a blatant mistake that stains the already blemished record of the Academy.
The Descendants was a rare film that purely reflected human emotion and reactions in an exceptionally complicated situation, a father, and two daughters dealing with a wife and a mother in a coma right after finding out that she cheated on her husband with a local real estate agent. I can’t imagine a more loaded box of emotions being thrown at a husband or a daughter for that matter. There were so many exaggerations or perversions that director Alexander Payne could have used to accentuate the suffering and confusion facing the family, yet he refrained from this corruption of truth. Payne created a film that flawlessly displayed the perplexity of emotion of the situation and thus achieved something every movie strives for, to accurately represent human life and to teach an important lesson through this representation.
The Descendants was a real movie, in a lineup of nominations filled with fantasy and dramatizations of real life, and the Academy should have honored that.
By no means was The Descendants easy to watch. It was brutally depressing at points actually, but it was able to offset this sadness with surprising humor that was reminiscent of real life. The film also avoided ending with a clichéd, Hollywood ending because how can a situation like that turn happy?
But The Descendants ended just like it should have, with life going on and the characters trying to create a semblance of normal life. The pure, uncorrupted truth conveyed in The Descendants is why it was the worthy pick for Best Picture rather than some silly silent film.