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A letter to the Academy from City Paper's film critic

Toni Was Robbed

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A typical nightly habit of mine involves driving home from my job as a lowly barkeep listening to the most scintillating stuff on earth: lengthy discussions about movies of all stripes. I lead a wild life. Don't try to tame me bro.

A couple nights ago, I had the radio cranked up as the No Such Thing as a Bad Movie podcast discussed the merits of everyone's favorite robot cop vs. bouncing vampires movie, Robo Vampire. While they enthusiastically detailed the notorious film's plot and slivers of trivia, I had a pseudo-epiphany. The three people discussing this obscure late '80s batshittery are likely more passionate about films than a large chunk of the people in The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I'd wager they at least care more and are more open to all genres of film. Whether or not they sneered like I did when they heard this year's Oscar nominees is unknown. To deal with unshocking news of Academy Award nominees, here is a pointless letter I intend to send the people at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dear The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,

I don't really despise any film you've nominated this year so I really can't whine too hard about the nominations.

Wait. Yeah I can. I can't help but wonder what's on your mind, AMPAS, with regards to two things in particular. I understand that my taste can be pretty abstract at times. I'm not so delusional that I expect people to find joy in films like Robo Vampire, Chopping Mall, or The Wasp Woman. It's a very niche audience thing. With that being said, I don't think it's delusional to wonder why in the ever living hell y'all ignored Paul Schrader's First Reformed and, more importantly, Ethan Hawke's role in the film as a troubled priest. For heaven's sake, Academy!

But what bugs the aforementioned ever living hell out of me most is how y'all could pass over Toni Collette for Best Actress. I know it's unfair to complain when I've only seen two of the films with Best Actress nominations (Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Favourite), but did y'all even give Hereditary a chance? I know you're usually predisposed to snub horror films. I get it. Unless it's an Exorcist, Silence Of The Lambs, or Get Out, you tend to roll your eyes at horror films.

And yes, when there is so much in the genre that, according to y'all, lacks artistic merit, I can understand your reasoning. There are some seriously shitty horror films out there. It's one of the reason why major studios try to label horror films as something like "psychological thriller." By the way, if you do the Google thing, the film is listed as "Drama/Thriller." That label alone, that is one more reason you should have at least checked it out since you're so horror averse. Did you watch it, Academy? Did you even consider it "for your consideration" or did the idea of watching a horror film turn you off that much? If so, you have done not only yourself a disservice but a disservice to film in general by not at least seeing this film for the performances alone — particularly Toni Collette's portrayal of doomed miniature artist Annie Graham. Her range from tight and controlled to grief stricken and psychotic were unparalleled in my opinion. It was the reason I saw the film more than once in theaters. That performance blew my mind. You gave her a Best Supporting Actress nomination nineteen years go for The Sixth Sense but you can't recognize her awesomeness in Hereditary?

Still, I don't get it. Even someone who dislikes horror or even Ari Aster's debut film itself, has to be able to recognize how amazing Collette's performance was. Hell, go to your local YouTube and watch these two scenes: "Hereditary support group scene."

About ten minutes into the film, Annie visits a support group. After briefly holding back she begins oversharing for about four minutes straight. It concludes with the rest of the group giving her a "lady you are nuuuuuuts" look.

And this one: "Hereditary (2018) | "I Am Your Mother!" | Dinner Scene | 1080p"

You see Academy in this scene we have Annie, her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and her son, Peter (Alex Wolff) in the midst of an awkwardly quiet silverware clinking dinner scene. Their shared misery morphs into a verbal showdown between mother and son. When Annie starts in on her son, it ... well, you just have to watch it. She goes through rage and sadness within a three minute span. It's unbearable because it feels so tangible. There are even micro seconds of humor in that three minute span of pathos on parade.

She's put in almost three decades. Ms. Collette may not be spazzing out as much as her fans and horrorphiles but I'm fine with that. So, if you'd kindly set up a press conference and announce Ms. Collette's addition to the Best Actress nominations, I'd appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Totally Not Delusional Kevin M. Young Esq.

P.S. You also forgot to nominate the very underrated Ben Foster for his role in the equally underrated film Leave No Trace but that's for another letter.

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