I rented “Moneyball” the other day.  It turns out it is a baseball movie about baseball.  I was expecting some kind of subtext, but no, it really is about a specific period in the history of a baseball team when the general manager decides to adapt a new method of developing said team.  At first it doesn’t work, then it does for a bit.  No real spoiler alerts there.

So often there are more dimensions to films ostensibly about sports.  You hear phrases like “the triumph of the human spirit” and things of that ilk.  Not this one.  So it was with some interest that I read that both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were nominated for Academy Awards in (respectively) the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories.  For the life of me I cannot say why.  They were both passable in unobjectionable roles.  There was nothing particularly nuanced about either performance.  I didn’t snap off the TV and feel like I needed to learn more about the subject I had just watched.  I didn’t pause and take a breathe and express wonder at the miracle I had just witnessed.  They were … fine.

I know it is fairly common knowledge that the Academy Awards are a political game and rarely are nominations dealt out simply for excellence in a single performance.  But shouldn’t they be?  I noticed that Christopher Plummer was up for a supporting actor nod.  Now, Christopher Plummer is an incredible actor and I have not seen this film, but is he REALLY nominated for this particular turn or is it because he is really goddamn old and he has never won before?  Not to say you shouldn’t be appreciated for your entire catalogue of work but surely those are called “Lifetime Achievement Awards” and have their own special place in the world.

In the past, did Halle Berry win for “Monster’s Ball” because she was incredible (which she kinda wasn’t) or because no black woman had ever won best actress prior to 2001?  I hesitate to even write that lest I be accused of racism, but isn’t there really a bigger picture problem of no good roles being created or offered to black women that surely cannot be solved by a misplaced homage?

Did Charlize Theron win for “Monster” because it was outstanding, or because they transformed an insanely beautiful woman into an ugly one?  (And if walking around with no make up and sweatpants on harbouring resentment against the world is award worthy, then where the hell is mine?)  Even Sandra Bullock surmised in her acceptance speech that she thought she had finally won because the academy had grown tired of seeing her nominated without a win.

I harbour no malice to Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill or any other actor I have mentioned.  I just believe that  the point of having a show such as the Oscars is to honour tour-de-force acting in a specific film.  Athletes win medals because they excel in a specific event at a specific time.  You don’t win Olympic gold for being a generally good sprinter, or swimmer, or skier.  It all comes down to one moment, and one that you have worked your life to get to.  Makes it seem a little more important.  Makes you believe in the “triumph of the human spirit” after all.

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