Thursday, January 22, 2009

'Revolutionary Road' dissed by Oscar

Going down the list of nominees, Sam Mendes' anti-suburban pic Revolutionary Road missed out on nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. The only nominations it got were Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon), Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

Life is good.

UPDATE: Interesting discussion developing in the comments, thanks to my friend Victor, a/k/a Cinecon, the Right-Wing Film Geek, over the question of ad hominem arguments about novelist Richard Yates.

Yates, as Victor points out, wasn't a "pussy." He was, however, an intellectual, and the intellectual's instinctive hatred of "rural idiocy"/bourgeois conformity/small-town Babbitry is so nearly universal that it's neither a cliche nor a stereotype, it is merely a fact.

Intellectuals love the city life, except when they're engaged in noble-savage fantasies about far-away primitivism. The intellectual can simultaneously romanticize the aboriginal tribesmen he sees in National Geographic while denouncing as hopelessly backward the people of Brentwood, Tenn., or Cumming, Ga. -- and he never even notices the contradiction, because there is no one in his urban intellectual coterie who thinks differently.

It's a free country, and you are free to hate suburbia and suburbanites, if that makes you happy. But your hatred of suburbia does not make you superior, and it is the intellectual's sense of superiority that informs his anti-suburban prejudice.

UPDATE II: Linked by Dustbury.


  1. Ditto.

    There's something that really sticks in my craw about a guy like Richard Yates writing a novel (that spawned this movie) about how hard life is in suburbia ... for a generation that grew up in the depression and then went and fought WWII. Wonder if Yates ever bothered to ask some former combat vet who lived in suburbia how tough that life was.

    What a pussy.

  2. In their infallible charism of effing up, the Academy does however manage to nominate the worst thing in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD -- the ham act called "Michael Shannon in the role of Magic Retard" (actually a looney-tune, but close enough). Dialogue is so on-the-nose that you marvel at why those Greek hacks bothered with a whole chorus when all you need us one "Insane Man Who's Really The Sanest Cuz The World Is So Fuckedupinsane, Man ... load the bowl"

  3. um, let me interrupt this "what a pussy" ad hominem with some facts

    Richard Yates, aka "a man like" who needs to talk to some combat vets and learn about the depression, was born in 1926, served in France in WW2 and published REVOLUTIONARY ROAD in 1961.

    I have not read the novel, but I've been reliably told by people who have that it takes a completely different attitude toward the couple than the movie does. (Google "Karina Longworth" and "Revolutionary Road" to find the Spout film critic's review of the movie, which lays out the case.)

  4. I don't wanna push this too hard because I have seen the movie, which is as thin and cliched as you'd expect from the oh-TOOR of AMERICAN BEAUTY and is exactly what you criticize Yares for. And I have not read Yates's novel. But then, have YOU read Yates's novel? If you have and will say Karina Longworth is out of her gourd (google the terms, my iPhone won't let me set up hyperlink to her Spout review), then I will defer from ignorance. But if you haven't, your update is as groundlessly stereotype-based as the first comment. The book (according to someone who HAS read it) is contemptuous of the very anti-Babbittry in its central characters that you're complaining about).

    As I say, I didn't care for Mendes's REVOLUTIONARY ROAD except that I'm peeved that the lesser of Kate's two very good Oscar-season performances in not-so-good movies was the one she got nominated for. I guess playing a Nazi is a smarter Awardsbait move than playing a suburban housewife. Well, that and being naked for half the first act.