I've been raving about '50/50' -- the Jonathan Levine-directed dramedy which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man stricken with cancer -- for weeks. Last night, I was asked if I thought it could garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. My initial, knee-jerk reaction? Nope! But, wait: why can't my favorite movie of the year (to date) be nominated for an Oscar? There are a few reasons, but one is the fact that there hasn't been any real discussion of its chances; if nobody is mentioning '50/50' in the same sentence as "Oscar," then it probably can't be nominated, right? Let's change that: welcome to Moviefone's official '50/50' Oscar campaign kick-off!
Now, I understand that you probably haven't seen '50/50,' since it won't come out until next week. (We'll post a more-detailed review of the film then.) But that's kinda the point. No one saw 'Warrior,' (a film I liked but nowhere near as much as I liked '50/50') and now that movie is toast. No real chance for any major awards outside of a potential supporting actor nod for Nick Nolte. (And even Nolte's nomination, which was a shoo-in a few weeks ago, is looking pretty bleak these days.) As such: Please don't let this happen to '50/50.' Please don't let the awful memories of co-star and producer Seth Rogen's other cancer movie, 'Funny People,' scare you away. I saw '50/50' over a month ago and I still can't get its charm, wit, fear, surrealism and raw f-cking emotion out of my head. (And, for what it's worth, I rarely go to bat for movies like I'm doing now.) Yet, for a film that I like as much as I do '50/50,' why am I so hesitant to give it any chance for an Oscar nomination?
Because films like '50/50' aren't usually nominated. 'Terms of Endearment' (a film mentioned in '50/50') won Best Picture in 1983 and, on the surface, covers similar ground. But, not really. 'Terms' was more a story about a failing marriage that ended with cancer -- certainly not a laugh riot! '50/50' is all about cancer, but it's also quite funny. It's certainly not a pure, straightforward comedy -- but any hint of laughter along the way hasn't always been looked at with the kindest of eyes by the Academy.
Then again, if this were the '80s and early '90s, I'd feel fairly comfortable putting '50/50' in the heart of the Oscar race. After all, that was a time period which saw 'Tootsie,' 'Working Girl,' and 'Ghost' all walk away with Best Picture nominations. 'Tootsie' is great, but could you imagine that movie getting a best picture nomination today?
And that's the problem, I've become hard-wired to recognize what a circa-2011 Best Picture nominee is supposed to look like. (Also, just like in 1982 when it was hard to fathom a movie being nominated for Best Picture that featured Bill Murray, it's really difficult to imagine a movie in 2011 getting nominated that features Seth Rogen -- but, for f-ck's sake, it really should.) An Oscar movie is supposed to look like an arty period piece or -- since the expansion to as many as ten films -- a "well done" action blockbuster that has little chance of winning, but increases the ratings of the Academy Awards telecast. (Think: 'Inception.') '50/50' doesn't feel like either of those, so -- in my mind -- it's not an Oscar movie. But that's such a bullsh-t reason to not go to bat for '50/50.' Which I am. Right here. So, next week, go see '50/50'; don't let it suffer the same fate as 'Warrior.' Then, join me back here so I don't feel like I'm standing all by myself.
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Top photo: Chris Helcermanas-Benge/Summit Entertainment