If you haven’t already, set 10 minutes aside to savor Pictures at a Revolution author Mark Harris’s latest unfailingly insightful demythologizing of the Oscar game. The conclusion he eventually reaches is that, though the Oscar season has recently been shortened (at least in years which don’t also boast Winter Olympics), precursor events and Best Picture slots alike continue to proliferate to the point that they’re just about stacked one atop the other. Which is why just about the only thing guiding its participants through the torrential rain of trophies and plaques are those same “narratives” that Peggy Noonan infamously declared would no longer work for the RNC.
Speaking of Republicans, the most delicious passage in Harris’s article involves the attempted crucifixion of supporting actress T’Sunami Mo’Nique by that officious but invaluable New York Press gadfly Armond White, miser of ceremonies at the awards banquet of the New York Film Critics Circle. There’s no doubt Mo’Nique’s dismissal of their little cotillion as not worth her time had to sting for a group that already finds its currency devalued with the founding of each new critics group in Toledo, Portland, or Billings. But as Harris points out, the vehemence against her demonstrated by White, Thelma Adams, Jeffrey Wells, and a number of other “I never!” parrot bloggers has resulted in its own backlash among those who, like us, gotta admire anyone willing to take a stand against the Oscar machine.
At least, that’s the perception, and when you’re dealing in narratives, perception counts as much as pesky facts. Her resistance to putting in extracurricular time pimping out a movie she should by any reasonable measure be embarrassed to be attached to has been recklessly turned by Wells, et al, into “Mo’Nique, like all lazy, fat black people, needs to stop asking for handouts and be grateful white people even give a shit.” Mo’Nique didn’t even need to do anything but let the blogger piranhas devour themselves in a sea of bile, but she added insurance by belatedly playing the game, showing up grounded and real with legs unshaven, and convincing everyone that she truly does appreciate the recognition. As Harris said, Mo’Nique is this year’s comeback prom queen. But if it turns out Armond White is standing in the rafters of the Kodak Theater waiting to dump pigs feet on her, don’t say you didn’t hear it here first.
Should Win: Mo’Nique, Ballistic: Mo’Nique vs. Armond