Wednesday, February 03, 2010


“Everything is there on the screen.”

With those six words, Mo’Nique (who I’ve always admired), the odds-on favorite to win in her category for Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Academy Awards long before the nominees were announced yesterday, also became the actor I most want to see take home a statue on March 7. Not because I loved the movie, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire-- I didn’t, not by a long shot. (By the way, has there ever been a more annoying or pretentious official title to a movie?) I want to see her win because of her absolutely refreshing refusal to partake in all the requisite Oscar campaigning and glad-handing, her insistence that the only thing that matters is the work, that the performance should be eloquent evidence enough as to whether or not she deserves Oscar’s recognition, that, yes, “everything is there on the screen.” She is damned good in a thankless, difficult-to-watch role, the central on-screen monster in a movie that has as many problems as its absurdly set-upon protagonist, and if she deserves the award then it should be because the voters think what she did in that movie is worthy, not because she’s out there shouting up her own achievement or cajoling her peers with lively banter aimed at focusing on her likable personality.

Betsy Sharkey reported in this morning's Los Angeles Times on Mo’Nique taking herself out of the competitive tussle leading up to March’s award ceremony, which I had not heard about until I read the article—it’s a very good piece that shines light on why Mo’Nique’s position is not, in the end, just another wily wrinkle on the same old Weinstein-inspired grandstanding. If the actress stays true to her conviction—and nothing I’ve ever seen her do in public makes me suspect she’s a shrinking violet at heart—then a win for her might just suggest that it is the work that’s most important, that actors and other nominees don’t have to jump through the increasingly acrobatic and embarrassing hoops to convince voters that they want the big moment on the Oscar stage more than the other nominees do, and maybe--- just maybe—some measure of dignity might be restored to the whole back-slapping megillah known as Oscar season. And leave it to the woman who has fashioned a career around her irrepressibly coarse personality, who stands this month in representation of a performance in a role that many people can barely stand to watch (for reasons having as much to do with the way it is modulated, let’s be honest, as for its pain and anger and whatever other truth the viewer might ascribe to it), to lead the hike up the high road to inevitable Oscar glory. Mo'Nique, I cannot wait to see you walk up on that stage and hear your acceptance speech.



Chris Stangl said...

As you might've guessed already, I loved Mo'Nique's work in PRECIOUS, and have a lot of enthusiasm for the film. The title is certainly awkward, and may now come off as pretentious, but it's a remnant of the original festival screening title, where it was called PUSH: BASED ON THE etc., in order to differentiate it from several other films already using the title "PUSH".

Mike Lippert said...

Dennis, although I agree with this post, there is once instance of embarassing behaviour put on in hopes of gaining an Oscar nomination that I love and that would be David Lynch and his cow trying to stir up spport for Laura Dern in Inland Empire.

bill r. said...

Eh...I don't know. A little while back, on her talk show, Mo'nique had Terrence Howard and...somebody else, can't remember who, to talk about Oscar nominations and so forth, and Howard and the woman were telling her what the benefits of playing the campaign game. At one point, Mo'nique wanted to talk about what it would mean for her financially. You can find the clip on-line.

The point is that her stated reasons for not participating, which sound good, have become hard for me to take seriously. Maybe she just didn't think she'd get enough money.

Either way, finally, I don't much care. Her reasons for not playing the game, if I'm correct, are no worse than the reasons so many other people do play the game (see Kate Winslet).

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Bill: I certainly won't pretend that anyone in Mo'Nique's position-- brash, over-the-top comedienne/actress with a talk show-- is going to be so pure and altruistic as to never consider what there might be to gain, financially and career-wise, from winning the Oscar. And clearly Mo'Nique can't be excepted from the ranks of relentlessly self-promoting celebrities. But I do like her taking this particular stand for the way it seems to run against the grain of the way things usually go this time of year. It would be a real disappointment to find out that it was just another load.

But either way, I still prefer the appearance of dignity on Mo'Nique's part (sincere or insincere) over the unabashed hunger for Oscar adulation which is more par for the course, and as I do end up paying more attention to this show every year than I probably should, then I guess I do care a smidgen. I lost a lot of respect for Kate Winslet over her campaigning for The Reader, especially in regard to her hesitance to address the problems people had with the movie's apparent sympathy for the devils. (She was fine in the role, if not award-worthy, but the movie was no good.)

Chris: Thanks for the insight on the movie's title. Was one of those movies Precious was trying stand apart from that ghastly sci-fi number with Dakota Fanning called Push? Jeez!

Mike: I remember that one! Yep, you're right-- that's a good Oscar campaign.

bill r. said...

I lost a lot of respect for Winslet, too. Her behavior was so transparently built up to grub for the award. Add to this the fact that she referred to her character in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD a "hero"...which, okay, I haven't seen the movie (or THE READER), but I read the book, and that bitch was no hero, let me tell you.

bill r. said...

Nor, I hasten to add, did Richard Yates intend her to be.

Castor said...

Anyone but Sandra Bullock, anyone!!! I just saw All about Steve which is probably the low point of Bullock's career. Her getting an Oscar for the same year as this movie would be outrageous...

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I haven't seen All About Steve, and I probably never will, but, Castor, she's not nominated for that movie. I loved Meryl Streep as Julia Child, but the more I think about it, the more I'd like Bullock (of the nominees) to get her moment. Of course, if I picked my own winner, Bullock would run behind Vera Farmiga for Orphan and Charlotte Gainsbourg for Antichrist.

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