Last year, I saw every single film that was nominated for an Academy Award of any kind. Even the shorts. It was the first time I'd ever accomplished such a feat of completism.
I write this not to brag but to illustrate my VERY REAL dilemma. Now that I've watched all the Oscar-nominated films in a year and felt that heady rush of self-satisfaction, I can't ever go back. Which means I now have to look at Thursday's impending Oscar nominations with a wary sense of battle-readiness. These aren't just nominations anymore. They're marching orders. Which means not only am I hoping for the best films and performances I saw all year to be nominated; I'm also hoping a handful of movies that I really, really, really don't want to see will not get nominated.
I offer this up, then, as a kind of prayer. Or an invocation. Dear Oscar voters/Ernst & Young tabulators: cut an Oscar blogger a break here, huh? Can we steer clear of the following ...
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
What It Might Get Nominated For: It's made the shortlist for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling award, and given that category's historical fondness for old-age prosthetics, it stands a very good chance of being this year's Norbit (in the sense that it's a dumb Oscar-nominated movie, not in the sense that its existence kept Johnny Knoxville from winning an Oscar).
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: More power to you if the Jackass movies are your thing. They are not my thing. To the extent that they ever were my thing, the parts where Johnny Knoxville would dress up like an old man/woman and then start freaking out the squares by doing rude or age-inappropriate stuff was extra-specially not my thing.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: If the Academy insists on nominating a garbage-y movie in this category, why not make it one I've already scene, on what was essentially a dare: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
The Book Thief
What It Might Get Nominated For: Best Original Score. John Williams already got a Golden Globe nomination for his score, and the Academy is by no means averse to nominating him.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: "Overly sentimental Holocaust drama" isn't exactly my idea of a great time, and I'm not the biggest Geoffrey Rush fan. Grantland's Wesley Morris called the film a "disturbingly pleasant Nazi-era drama" and mentions that it's narrated "from Death's point of view." Pass, if I can at all help it.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: There were so many good scores this year! Even if I only limit myself to likely (or semi-likely) Oscar nominees, there's the Hans Zimmer score for Rush or the lovely work Arcade Fire did on Her.
What It Might Get Nominated For: Best Original Song for the Taylor Swift-penned "Sweeter Than Fiction."
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: I don't hate James Corden, and I certainly wouldn't turn up my nose at anything "from the director of The Devil Wears Prada." Maybe it's the Britain's Got Talent effect. I only have room in my life for one movie based on the events of a Simon Cowell-engineered talent show phenomenon, and I already saw One Direction: This Is Us over the summer. Plus, hi, I would avoid it simply to avoid the Taylor Swift song, sorry.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: Lots of better Best Original Song nominees out there. I actually enjoy "Atlas," the Coldplay song from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. And even though the better of José González's Secret Life of Walter Mitty songs is ineligible, "Stay Alive" is still pretty good.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
What It Might Get Nominated For: A repeat of last year's nomination in Best Production Design seems a distinct possibility.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: There is only one place and time to watch The Hobbit, and that's when you are home for the holidays and you need a compromise choice when everybody wants to go to the movies on Boxing Day. You had your chance, Hobbit!
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: The futuristic Shanghai-Angeles of Her would be a fantastic alternative, as would the ever-so-slightly unwelcoming crash pads and folk clubs in Inside Llewyn Davis.
What It Might Get Nominated For: The Academy likes battle scenes for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing fodder.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: For one thing, I already know only one character survives because of the title so SPOILER ALERT, Peter Berg! I also wasn't a huge fan of the last time Berg directed a movie about Mid-East tensions (remember The Kingdom? No, you don't). Actually, I wasn't a huge fan of the last time Berg directed anything that wasn't Friday Night Lights.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: World War Z delivered some fantastically frantic and tense attack scenes that were fairly spectacular on a technical level.
What It Might Get Nominated For: Best Actress in a Leading Role. No, obviously Best Animated Feature.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: Every year, there are dozens of animated movies that flood the marketplace, mostly because parents are desperate to drag their screaming children t anything that will keep them staring at the same big screen for 90 minutes. This is why unmemorable fare like Despicable Me 2 can land in the box-office top 5. But we child-less adults don't have to see ALL of them! Certainly not the ones about cavepeople named Grug and Ugga and starring the vocal talent of Nicolas Cage.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: You know what didn't get enough love, was Monsters University. Its status as a sequel kind of freed it from the big prestige-y expectations that saddled something like Brave, and it played looser and more fun as a result.
The Lone Ranger
What It Might Get Nominated For: Best Visual Effects, for that big ol' train crash scene.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: Because there is no more perfectly junky "wait til it premieres on HBO" movie, and I don't want to ruin that by seeing it in any other fashion. And I'm not buying this "it was secretly one of the best movies of the year" business either.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: It's tough to get fired up over Oscar nominations for superhero sequels, but the effects work in Iron Man 3 of getting the suit to assemble on the fly looks pretty cool, and the interdimensional climax of Thor: The Dark World is pretty fantastic, too.
What It Might Get Nominated For: It's almost certainly a stretch, but Kate Winslet's surprise Golden Globe nomination means we can't 100% count her out of the running for Best Actress. ...Can we?
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: Abysmal reception out of the Toronto Film Festival. Lack of desire to watch Kate Winslet in something sub-par. Those Rihanna TV spots.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: For Best Actress? Do you have a spare hour? Amy Adams for American Hustle is the most plausible. Meryl Streep for August: Osage County wouldn't be a tragedy. Brie Larson. Greta Gerwig. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Adele Exarchopoulos. Melissa McCarthy. The list goes on.
What It Might Get Nominated For: Best Costume Design, since the costumers do love them some Asian influences.
Why I Don't Want to Watch It: Keanu Reeves doing the Last Samurai thing in a "borderline racist" movie that pulled in a whopping 11% on Rotten Romatoes.
What I'd Rather See Nominated Instead: Inside Llewyn Davis was the best thing to happen to turtlenecks and wool coats since Harry Potter and the Turtlenecks and Wool Coats.