This year’s Oscars won the prestigious “most controversia”l award, but while the American public has done a predictably great job of freaking out over many aspects of this awards show, you’re all sleeping on the biggest controversy of all: “Paddington 2” being shut out for best picture.
“Paddington 2” was grievously overlooked at the Oscars this year, and I haven’t been this disappointed since the execrable “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain” in 2006. Virtually every category could have a nominee from this movie, yet we have none. It does, after all, boast a pristine 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Paddington 2” stars Sally Hawkins, who was in last year’s best picture winner, as Paddington’s human foster mom, Mrs. Brown. Her warm, brave character, not to mention her colorful wardrobe, should have easily earned a nod for this film. I also nominate her for best hosiery, as every outfit features boldly colored tights with contrasting footwear and chunky, quintessentially British knits.
A final musical number — a ludicrous, fabulous tap-dance number with Hugh Grant as the vain actor-turned-criminal Phoenix Buchanan prancing down the steps singing “Rain on the Roof” with an ensemble of pink-clad prisoners — means this film could also be considered for best musical. Grant could also win best character name. And for weirdest twist, how about the fact that Grant and the actor who voices Paddington, Ben Whishaw, play May-December lovers turned fighters in another project from this year, “A Very English Scandal.”
The inclusion of “Black Panther” in this year’s nominees for best picture does bring popularity and quality together more than usual. I think the 2012 winner, “The Artist,” probably has the greatest gap in recent memory between a film that is considered artistically “best” and a movie anyone wants to see. Has anyone seen it?
I thought “Roma” is probably the second-best picture of the year, while I will allow that “Black Panther” might even have more inventive and glorious textiles and costumes than “Paddington 2” — although the latter does feature prison stripes inadvertently dyed pink by a certain irrepressible furry being (whose name you can likely guess by now). Brendan Gleeson, with his resplendent beard, deserved best supporting actor as Knuckles McGinty in “Paddington 2,” a hardened convict who is reformed through his love of marmalade, but I didn’t see him on the list of nominees.
Since we continue to grapple with problematic men onscreen and behind the camera, and some aspect of this issue seems to be at play in all the problems plaguing the Oscars, Paddington himself is our best bet in categories cinematic and beyond. He is the ursine hero we deserve, sensitive but brave, with the superpower of an effective hard stare. He is a male, but not a man, and although he doesn’t wear pants, he keeps those toggle buttons buttoned. Paddington for best actor, Paddington for Oscars host, Paddington for president.
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