Why a Best Picture Nomination for Another Year Matters

You probably haven't even heard of the film yet, but look for Another Year -- opening in limited released on December 29 -- to be one of this year's 10 Oscar nominees for Best Picture. It's the lovely new film from British director Mike Leigh, another of his exquisitely realized looks at the ordinary lives of ordinary folks, and it's simply a perfect, perfect movie, featuring an absolutely heartbreaking yet utterly unsentimental performance by Lesley Manville (who deserves to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress, too) as a woman better at complaining about her life than at doing anything to improve it.

It matters that this beautiful little film get nominated because it's almost certain that the other nominated films will be stories about brat billionaires, disabled royalty, crazy ballerinas, thieves who walk through dreams, toys that talk, and other preposterous things that may well make for entertaining stories, but don't really connect to our real lives in any genuine way. Don't get me wrong: I love fantastical movies, and I know they can speak to us in ways that are powerfully metaphoric. But great movies can and do speak to us in ways that aren't metaphoric but in authentic, unvarnished, human ways. Of course, great stories often feature characters and situations that are unusual. But there are extraordinary stories to be found in the ordinary, too. There's plenty of room for the Academy to acknowledge that now that it has 10 slots of Best Picture nominees. I hope it takes advantage of that.

The just-announced Golden Globe nominations, often a predictor of the Oscar nominations, don't give me hope, however. The Tourist for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical? This boggles the mind ... unless the HFPA is considering this terrible film as an unintentional comedy. I can't help but see that The Tourist took a nomination that could easily have gone to Another Year, which is no more or less a comedy than actual nominee The Kids Are All Right. Here's hoping that the Oscars do not take a cue from the Globes' temporary insanity, and fail to overlook a movie with more charm, grace, wit, and romance in two minutes than The Tourist has in its entire running time.

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MaryAnn Johanson reviews all the awards contenders at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)