No one should care about the Oscars. Ranking movies is as arbitrary as computers deciding football champions. And having a personal stake in the accomplishments of entertainers that are not friends or relatives is silly, Kobe and Lebron notwithstanding. Yet here we are.
So how does an average movie where nothing happens get nominated for best picture? My theory is that the Academy picks movies that demonstrate they are decent human beings. It was interracial relations in Crash. The struggles of poor Indians in Slumdog Millionaire and now the plight of poor rural whites in Winter's Bone. None of these movies are as polished, interesting, entertaining, complex in plot or revealing about the human condition as good movies should be. And yet they're put on a stage that they don't deserve. So the message is clear to those of you who aren't as talented as Christopher Nolan; if you want to get outsized critical acclaim then you need to pick the right theme. So I've come up with a few thematic suggestions to help budding filmmakers get to the Oscars:
1. Man struggles to survive in poor country when ethnic tensions boil over to racial violence. The world superpowers don't intervene in a timely fashion. Wait, Hotel Rwanda already did it.
2. Inner-city youth overcomes unimaginable personal hardships, in addition to the regular socio-economic obstacles. Wait Precious did it.
3. Inner-city youth struggle to survive in the face of arbitrary gang violence. Wait Boyz in the Hood did it.
4. People struggle to survive racial violence brought on by the Nazis. The world superpowers don't intervene in a timely fashion. Wait, Schindler's List, Sophia's Choice, Life is Beautiful, Defiance, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Reader, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Counterfeiters, already did it.
5. Regime goes genocidal on its own people. The world's superpowers don't intervene in a timely manner. Wait, Killing Fields and The Last King of Scotland already did it.
6. Homosexual. Wait Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, Milk, The Kids Are All Right, already did it.
7. Okay, so I'm thinking the way to go is something out of Haiti. I don't think anyone has done Haiti yet. Make it earthquake related, but not all about the earthquake. Use the earthquake as a touchstone to delve into the historical problems, how the country has been a mess for generations, people have no hope, the world superpowers didn't intervene in a timely manner. Etc. Maybe add a love story. Love that can't be because of the resulting cholera epidemic? No, too depressing. Maybe have the love interest randomly meet up because of a game show and do a big dance number at the end in a train station.