It is the unfortunate lightness of being that will get left out of this Oscar Race 2012. Yes, there will be great films that have whimsy, such as "The Artist", "Decedents", "Moneyball" up for best picture... but there are going to be films that will be overlooked this year. Such as two of the best comedies, "Midnight in Paris" and "Win, Win". Yes, "Midnight.." might get best original screenplay nod, but will fail to get a Best Picture nod. And as far as "Win, win" , Thomas McCarthy's pitch perfect of success and loss, wrapped in a family drama will probably come up short in the Oscar Race 2012. And why? Light hearted movies are hard to emotionally invest in. It's really a tight rope and few movies make it to the Oscar finish line. "Little Miss Sunshine" is a rare film that make it to the big nomination. There's usually only room for one or two (even in a 10 best picture era) light hearted movies that get that much attention. Usually it's a Brit film, like "Full Monty" or star turn (like this year's "Decedents" and "Moneyball"). Unfortunate (or fortunately, depending on who you are) "Win, Win" doesn't have George or Brad, and Giamatti is playing a character he's played before. Non-the -less, "Win, win" is a subtly powerful character study film that has genuine laughs.
There's the idea that comedies are wish washy, and don't have the merit that dramas have. Yet there is more pathos that "Win, Win" has in the first five minutes than "Moneyball" has in the whole movie. Ironically, the front runners this year, are actually considered comedies/musicals/ dramedy." Decedents" and " The Artist" will and should win. Why? Because they have a grace about them, real emotion, without sacrificing the humor. Alexander Payne (director of the "Decedents") knows a thing or two about dark horse dramedies. His last film, "Sideways" had the same underdog quality that "Win, Win" has (Paul Giamatti and all) yet it managed to squeeze out 5 nods and even one Oscar (Best Adapted Screenplay). Though the biggest difference between the two is, well... Alexander Payne. Before "Sideways", he had already gotten an Oscar nod for "Election" and his next movie after that, "About Schmidt" nabbed two nods for Nicholson and Kathy Bates. While McCarthy's second movie, "The Vistor" did earn a nod for Best Actor, Richard Jenkins, he hasn't gotten the gravitas that Payne had manage to muster up with his fourth movie. Possibly McCarthy's next movie will get that kind of attention, but I don't see the PR for "Win, win".
Another reason why certain comedies make it and other don't...is timing. Both "Midnight in Paris" and "Win, win" came out early in the year. While some heavy movies like, "Silence of the Lambs" and more recent films like, "The Hurt Locker" took home a golden statue for bes pic, they were dramas. Clever, whimsical pieces are sadly forgotten around late January. The only lesson from all this is better PR and a hopefully longer attention span. Yet, the way I see society going, my bet is on better PR and release dates. If this harsh reality may slightly depress you, why not watch movies like "Midnight in Paris" and "Win, win". They are the best movies for that.