Film buff and professional actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gives his opinions on this year’s Best Picture nominations in Esquire:
There’s a reason Oscar has a sword covering his crotch: It’s to hide the fact that he has no balls. On Sunday, as families gather around the hearth of their TV screens to celebrate the achievements of multi-millionaires, we viewers know we will be bathed in their pathos, bathos, and the rest of the Musketeers. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but when I look at the films nominated for Best Picture, I can’t help but feel disappointed that such a glittery, bloated event, which costs roughly $38 million to produce, doesn’t have more substance to justify its self-congratulatory pride.
This is not an attack on the Oscars or the many fine artists who deserve recognition and praise. We should reward their remarkable and memorable achievements in acting, writing, directing, and all the other categories. This is a questioning of only one category: Best Picture. And why the Academy continues to play it safe in this category, like the young first-timer in prison who tries to be the best buddy to everyone and to not offend anyone.
For me, the Best Picture should display excellence in acting, directing, and all the other elements that go into making a film. But it should also be greater than the sum of those parts. The Best Picture should have emotional impact, yes, but not only emotional impact, or that would be melodrama. The emotional wallop it produces should illuminate some fresh insight into human relationships: personal, social, and political. We should come out of such a film somehow changed by it because we can now see the world and our role in it more clearly — and make that world and our lives better because of it.
This is not to say that this year’s nominees are without power, grace, and artistry…
Do read the whole thing; he’s get interesting things to say about all the nominees, but his eventual choice for Best Picture is not at all what I would’ve guessed.