The 2009 Oscar noms prefer Brangelina and Nazis over artistry

by Beacon Staff • January 28, 2009

On Feb. 22, for the 81st time in the illustrious award show's history, the red carpet will unfurl as Hollywood's elite begin their pompous march toward Oscar gold.

Along the way the stars, adorned in their formal wear, make sure to dilly and dally, leisurely stopping to chat with colleagues, some just to primp and pose. They each bear a plastered look of insouciance as those bullies from "E!" ritualistically inquire, "Who (isn't it supposed to be whom?) are you wearing?"

Kate Winslet arrives on the scene a little dazed, perhaps still wondering whether or not "this is really happening"-that her Nazi-with-a-heart-of-pedophilia film iThe Reader/i, an unabashed bit of Oscar bait, has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.

Apparently anything even tangentially relating to Nazis, the Holocaust or both, regardless of quality, is reasonable grounds for earning a nomination.

This might explain why a deluge of "Holocaust films"-iThe Reader/i, iValkyrie/i, iGood/i, iDefiance/i, iThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas/i, and iAdam Resurrected/i-were released in December. While a few of these films may barely fall under the umbrella of "educational," there is something potently abhorrent about exploiting six million deaths for a golden statuette.

That might seem a little harsh, but how else can one explain the Dec. 31 release date of iGood/i and iDefiance/i if not because "Holocaust films" are recognized almost annually by the Academy?

If anyone wonders how iThe Reader/i got nominated, instead of a litany of other far more deserving films, one would have to look no further than the sleazy methods of electioneering that Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who distributed the film, standardized in the early '90s.

The Weinsteins, who co-founded Miramax and now run The Weinstein Company, represent everything that is wrong with the nomination process.

Alliances with Academy members are routinely forged over extravagant meals while various forms of payola are exchanged under the proverbial table. What was once a meritocracy, or at least retained the pretense of being one, has mutated into full-functioning political machine.

As the languid red carpet procession continues,