Oscars and Indies

Must I write about the Oscars? Must I gnash my metaphoric teeth over lousy films nominated and good ones ignored? Must I ask just what the Academy was thinking?

Reality check: The Motion Picture Academy doesn’t have a single mind to think with. It contains hundreds of minds, of various levels of brightness, that choose who to vote for under the influence of sentiment, personal friendships, exposure to heavy advertising, and, odd as this may seem, what movies they actually liked. Margins of victory are top secret, but I doubt that anything like a consensus is common.

Nevertheless, the Academy tends to pick movies that are liberal, but not too radical, well-made, but not too innovative, and successful, but not huge hits. And they frequently make good choices. Of the five Best Picture nominees, I’ve seen all but Letters From Iwo Jima (a shortcoming I hope to soon correct). Two, Babel and Little Miss Sunshine, came in first and third in my Top Ten List. I liked The Departed and The Queen, but not as much as everyone else.

Little Miss Sunshine has one interesting advantage over the others. It might have qualified for indiefest, the annual celebration of truly independent cinema that opens this year on February 8 at the Castro, where they’ll be screening David Lynch’s new Inland Empire. (How’s that for a sneaky transition?) Inland Empire opens in a few select theaters the next day.

That’s also when indiefest moves to its main home, the Roxie. Additional screenings will happen at the Victoria Theater and, Berkeley’s California. Altogether, it will show more than 100 films and videos.