The Help is surging
The Artist may have won Best Film and Best Director last night but The Help’s victories in acting ensemble and lead and supporting actresses gave it a huge boost as we head toward Oscar nomination day on January 24.
The Help is exactly the kind of film the Academy would love to honour. Remember Crash? Crash was a gross simplification. I’d almost feel better about The Help if we could call it an oversimplification. But The Help is, in some ways, a lot more dangerous. As I’ve already noted, several times, I am not a fan of The Help - not the book and not the movie. And the actors have nothing to do with it. But the success of a film like The Help provides absolution that it’s too easy, too weak. And it also gives Hollywood an excuse to say that it’s doing enough to represent culture at every level which... please.
You know what’s crazy to me too? People talk about The Help like it’s a true story. Like it’s so inspiring because it actually happened. That’s the point. The Help never happened. The Help could never have happened. Pretending like it could have is what I mean about easy absolution, and for some it feels like it’s a rewriting of what actually did happen, so as to ignore the real conversation about why it never happened. I’m not sure we need to be celebrating that.
Does that mean I don’t want to see Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer accepting awards. Of course not. They are wonderful. The acting is the only redeemable part of the film. But, on this note, it’s like The Iron Lady. The Iron Lady features yet another strong(ish) performance by Meryl Streep in an otherwise weak feature. Streep will be nominated for Best Actress, The Iron Lady will not be nominated for Best Picture. And so it should be with The Help if it were up to me.