I guess I'm officially a fan of The Guardian's Joe Queenan -- I keep linking to him. First, Queenan recently informed us that Rocky Balboa is a racist film, intended to provide white audiences with a fanciful champion. Next, he accused Martin Scorsese of sending him some kind of coded message in The Departed by dropping a character named Queenan off a roof in the film. Now, Queenan has come back with a theory about Dreamgirlsthat actually strikes me as solid. The theory is not about the film itself, which he dismisses as "cliche-ridden," and a "melange of mouldy Star Is Born banalities" with a "phoney Broadway ending." It's about the Academy's much-discussed snub of the film in the Best Picture nominations, which the New York Times treated like Watergate.
Queenan throws out the idea that the Academy may be feeling increasingly brow-beaten into following in lockstep behind the Association of Swedish Gossip Columnists, or whoever those Hollywood Foreign Press people are that choose the winners for the Golden Globes. He reminds us that Brokeback Mountain had an incredible momentum last year, but was unexpectedly sideswiped by the Academy after it won the Golden Globe. "The Academy has apparently decided that if it merely rubber-stamps the awards distributed a few months earlier by the Golden Globes, it will cease to have any reason to exist," Queenan says.
He also points out that the Academy may have been simply disgusted by the incredibly tacky Dreamgirls publicity machine, which included multiple-city tours, an entire episode of Oprah, and many other kinds of unembarrassed self-tooting for a film that I would generously describe as a so-so musical with one or two good performances. But, as Queenan points out, the very idea of the Academy bickering with the Globes for artistic supremacy is a hoot, since the Academy hasn't gotten it right in many years. The last Best Picture winner that was actually the best film of the year was 1996's The English Patient. This year's best American film, Marie Antoinette, wasn't even mentioned as a possible front-runner for a nomination.