Jan. 13. The Academy Awards didn’t get the Oscar nominations right Monday morning because they didn’t get Yesterday right.

The joyously creative movie Yesterday, accurately described in Forbes as the “summer’s lone sleeper hit,” received not a single Academy Award nomination. Instead, the Oscar nominations are dominated by the usual mix of the pompous, the dark and moody, the homages to Hollywood itself, and, of course, the annual over-stylized mob flick. (Okay, Little Women, which I haven’t seen yet but I’m told is wonderful, doesn’t fit any of these categories, but Hollywood likes it probably because Hollywood considers it to be slyly feminist more than because the academy actually recognizes quality.)

The professional critics, haughty as always in dismissing movies that are fun and sweet and smile-inducing, over-analyzed Yesterday. The critics would sometimes acknowledge its winsomeness but kept complaining that the film doesn’t satisfy their “inner pedant,” who wants a more serious examination of the ramifications of its “daft, ingenious premise.”

In truth, that premise, namely that some sort of weird analog of an electromagnetic pulse suddenly made almost everyone in the world forget that the Beatles (and a few other pop-culture staples) ever existed, works so well specifically because the film itself doesn’t try to over-analyze it. The characters are so likable, the pacing so perfect, and the Beatles songs so seamlessly and happily woven into the plot that the audience is happy to suspend disbelief.

But, “what if the popularity of the Beatles’ music was as much a product of a specific time and set of circumstances as the music itself?” asks A.O. Scott of the New York Times. “What if things had developed so differently in the Beatles’ absence that people would have no idea what they were missing, and, frankly, wouldn’t care?” asks Sheila O’Malley at RogerEbert.com.

Audiences know not to take things so absurdly seriously….



Tags: , , , ,