Monday, December 27, 2010

The Buzz On Oscar Buzz

Gulliver's Travels is a surefire Oscar contender. The film contains Jack Black in his most personal role to date, and a breakout performance by Emily Blunt. It's also one of the top three films to have opened in the last week, to boot.

Oh, you didn't realize there was Oscar buzz surrounding Gulliver's Travels? I'm not surprised. The film didn't have any Oscar buzz until a few minutes ago, when I typed the previous paragraph. But being the generous guy that I am, I've decided to give it some buzz.

I hate that term, "Oscar buzz." You read it all the time: such-and-such movie has Oscar buzz. Says who? What constitutes "buzz," exactly? And who starts the buzz? Can I now assume that Gulliver's Travels is a likely Oscar nominee because I say it has buzz? (Full disclosure: I haven't seen Gulliver's Travels, nor do I have any desire to see it. I read the book in high school and was ambivalent. The satire was a little outdated, to say the least. Now, show me an issue of MAD Magazine from the 18th century, and perhaps I'll have a greater respect for satire from that era.)

It's not hard to predict which films will have Oscar buzz. Gulliver's Travels actually fits one of the criteria for Oscar buzz: It's based on a critically acclaimed book. A few of the best-picture nominees for 2010 were based on books: Up in the Air, The Blind Side, Precious (which, in case you were unaware, is based on the novel Push by Sapphire).

Film plot is the key to determining whether a movie will garner Oscar buzz. Gulliver's Travels stars Jack Black as a New York City man transported to a land where the natives are much smaller than he is. Cute, but not Oscar-worthy.

Black there's a movie that's Oscar-worthy. A ballerina who descends into madness and makes out with Mila Kunis? Yes! Give it Oscar buzz immediately!

The favorite to win the best-picture Oscar, in my view, is The King's Speech. You may not have heard of the movie prior to the Golden Globe nominations two weeks ago, when it received a leading seven nods. Heck, you may not have heard of The King's Speech until you started reading this paragraph.

But make no mistake, The King's Speech is absolutely worthy of Oscar consideration. For starters, it's a British film, and the Academy loves movies that contain English dialogue spoken in non-American accents. And the plot just screams Oscar buzz: a British king who tries to overcome a speech impediment with the help of a speech therapist. Seriously, how long have we been waiting for this story to be told on the big screen?

This is just my two cents; I'm not a film critic. There are many film critics and critics societies that will tell you which movies have Oscar buzz. (How many critics does society need?) But I do think my opinion is worth something. I've been hearing that my blog has a lot of buzz.