Oscar night is over, and everyone is basking in the glow of the winners. Or, excuse me, the "recipients" of the Oscars. Not too many years back, the politically-correct police changed the language from "and the winner is" to "and the Oscar goes to" because that made the losers sound less like losers. It's a joke now when someone says, "It's an honor just to be nominated," but I believe that's true. I think it would be unbelievably cool to be nominated, even if you were in the Best Documentary Short category and the bouncers tried to keep you from entering the theater. This week's column is dedicated to the losers that were honored just to be nominated.
My favorite film of the year, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is gone from theaters and available on DVD, received two nominations and lost both, which I expected. But this is a film that, like Anthony Mann's The Naked Spur and many other Westerns, will grow in stature despite its lack of Oscars. The year's other big Western, 3:10 to Yuma, also lost its twin nominations, but will probably endure as long as there remains a small, dedicated audience for Western adventures. On the other hand, I find that very few films in the "disease of the week" genre have much life after the Oscars. But The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (161 screens) will be different, for two reasons: 1) it was actually really, very good, and 2) it didn't win anything.