The last two questions you posed are of course closely related. Do I think that the academy slighted Fantastic Mr. Fox? Yes, surely. Though I’m not over the moon about Wes Anderson’s droll go at dressing Roald Dahl’s animal family in corduroy and designer denim, I still find it clearly superior to half of the best picture nominees, including Avatar and especially An Education. (Among my problems with that last tea crumpet of film is this: If Carey Mulligan’s studious heroine is supposed to be so brainy, why doesn’t she suspect that Peter Sargaard’s character is shady from the fact that he, ah, picks up teenage girls off the street?)
And then there is Tarantino: Might he walk away a thorough loser? Well, I would bet you the ark of the covenant that Christoph Waltz wins the best Nazi prize. Trusting in my powers of raw speculation, I will venture that the best original screenplay race boils down to Tarantino and The Hurt Locker’s Mark Boal. Moreover, given the many vote-splitting possibilities inherent in the jumbo-size best picture race—will District 9 and Avatar divide the geek bloc?—it is not inconceivable that Inglourious Basterds might sneak away with the victory that I dearly wish it would. It was my favorite film of 2009, beating Broken Embraces, In the Loop, and The Hurt Locker by a couple lengths, and I think it’s a small shame that neither Mélanie Laurent nor Diane Kruger beat the odds and scored a nomination. But perhaps it would be just as well for Q.T. to get K.O.’d. The last time the academy gave him a statuette, Courtney Love tried to bludgeon Lynn Hirschberg with it.
My point here is not to heap disdain on An Education—”Oh, crikey! I’ll wet me knickers if I don’t get into Oxford!”—or to daydream about what would happen if the LAPD seized one’s Oscar as evidence in an assault case but, rather, to wheel around to saying that the average Oscar voter is rather too doddering to dig on Mr. Fox or Basterds in any sustained way. I mean that as nonageistly as possible. After all, before too long, you and I will be scratching our gray heads in incomprehension at Roman Coppola Jr.’s Godfather IV: The Chic-quel.
I look forward to picking this conversation back up next month. Until then, keep an eye out for Jeremy Renner on the talk-show circuit. This bomb-disposal dude is so smooth that he might even have been able to defuse The Jay Leno Show.
See you soon,