The ups and downs of having ten Best Picture nominees are obvious. By doubling the number of films in contention for the grand honor, more mainstream movies have the opportunity to be recognized. More people have a favorite to root for come March 7th and the show will pull in better ratings. Also, since being nominated usually prompts moviegoers to seek out those films, more nominees means more movies grabbing extra attention at the box office. The down side? Those unworthy of finding themselves amongst the year’s top five can sneak in and nab a nomination. The perfect example of this transgression: The Blind Side.
I reviewed the film when it first hit theaters back in November and did so positively. The Blind Side is the epitome of a feel good movie. Once upon a time there was a troubled kid with absolutely no chance of reaching his full potential. Then, his wealthy fairy godmother arrives to give him the finer things in life. He grows up to be a successful pro athlete. The End. You know the saying ‘Don’t let your emotions get the better of you?’ Well, they got the better of the country and apparently the Academy as well. The Blind Side has turned Oscar voters into sentimental mush, brainwashing them into thinking the film is more than just a piece of fluff entertainment and is in fact one of the best films of the year.
You know what else you shouldn’t let get the better of you? Money. Hollywood is obsessed with finances. It’s understandable to a point. Everyone needs to make a living, right? There’s no harm in developing a four-quadrant film to make a quick buck, but trying to pass it off as the best of the best is wrong. The Blind Side is already the surprise hit of the year, it doesn’t need the additional push of an Oscar nomination.
Bullock whips her big teddy bear into shape. What would she do if he told her, “I don’t want your life?”
Money rules in Hollywood but the Academy Awards are the one place where it’s not all about money; they’re about excellence in filmmaking and The Blind Side doesn’t qualify. Director John Lee Hancock didn’t strive for distinction, he settled for mediocrity. He kept it safe to ensure that the final product would have the intended effect. Yes, it did achieve its goal of making audiences across the country coo and fawn over generosity of Leigh Anne Tuohy, but since when do we reward movies for being too afraid to color outside the lines? Avatar may be cliché, but James Cameron took a risk by investing a significant amount of time and money into creating a film using a new technology with the power to revolutionize the moviegoing experience. The Blind Side revolutionizes nothing.
By now we know that the primary fault of Avatar is its truism ridden screenplay. Yet Avatar’s script is the most ingenious thing ever written compared to that of The Blind Side. You don’t even need to go beyond the trailer to get a taste of the film’s formulaic dialogue. It’s practically a call-and-response piece. “You’re changing that boy’s life.” Like you didn’t know Sandra Bullock was going to reply, “No, he’s changing mine.” The film’s characters suffer from the same predictability. Quinton Aaron mumbles and sulks his way into your heart making you feel sorry for all of the hardship Michael Oher has to endure, but so did Gabby Sidibe in Precious and she goes way beyond simply making the audience feel sorry for her character. S.J. (Jae Head), Tuohy’s son, is a cute kid and all, but he’s just a male version of Hayden Panettiere in Remember the Titans.
Sandra Bullock practices going incognito in the event she wins Best Actress and incites a riot.
The Blind Side’s offense goes beyond the Best Picture category, it earned Sandra Bullock a nomination as well. This means Bullock earned a Razzie nomination for All About Steve and a Best Actress nomination in the same year. We can’t hold shoddy films over her head for the rest of her career, but her performance in The Blind Side still isn’t Oscar-worthy! Bullock’s fine in the undemanding role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, but her greatest achievement in the role is pulling off a southern accent. At least with the expanded ten-nomination format, The Blind Side’s Best Picture nomination didn’t rob some other deserving picture. The same can’t be said of Bullock’s presence in the Best Actress category, which squeezed out more deserving actresses like Avatar’s Zoe Saldana. Now there’s a performance that dared to achieve something spectacular. Even covered in motion-capture sensors and hidden behind computer-generated wizardry, Saldana out-acts Bullock.
Avatar isn’t the only film that excels over The Blind Side. Every other film nominated for Best Picture deserves the honor. Not all deserve to win, but they’ve earned the right to be recognized by striving for excellence. That’s clearly the word that defines an Oscar nominee: excellence. The definition of excellence? The state, quality, or condition of excelling; superiority. The Blind Side isn’t superior in any facet: acting, writing, directing, nothing. This a movie which strove for mediocrity, and achieved it. We can enjoy it, but we shouldn’t reward it.
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