Not sure what they are laughing at, but I can guarantee it isn't this film's script.

I’ve fallen a little behind on write-ups.  Probably because most of the awards fare I’ve recently seen hasn’t really been all that inspiring.  Greenberg is no exception.  I agree with a lot of what John has to say (other than I can’t completely write off Noah Baumbauch because I really did love The Squid and the Whale), so I’ll try to avoid repeating him.

You know how people talk a lot about Oscar bait?  As in any prestige flick about the Holocaust or costume drama involving British aristocracy?  I think there’s such a thing a Independent Spirit bait.  And if so, not only is Greenberg it, but as John called, the IS nominating committee fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.  So what is Independent Spirit bait?  A movie with a mainstream star proving his mettle (here Ben Stiller), supported by well-known names in the indie world (Noah Baumbach, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Greta Gerwig), and where the story isn’t anything more than someone with clear psychological issues whining for no apparent reason and searching for some meaning in his life.

I will say that Baumbach’s dialogue didn’t set me off the way it did John.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find it particularly clever.  Certainly nowhere near as smart as it thought it was.  But it never took me out of the moment the way that other movies of this ilk occasionally can, with stilted or awkward dialogue.

The acting nominations are baffling.  I like Stiller, especially in smaller doses as part of an ensemble (e.g. Keeping the Faith or Mystery Men), but here, not that anyone could have salvaged the character, he’s just kinda vaguely annoying.  I’m glad that the Independent Spirits acknowledge smaller, more subtle performances, I’m just not certain I would have made that stand with this one.  Similarly, Gerwig’s nomination feels off, especially given her company.  I love that she’s developing a reputation as princess of the indies, just because it seems like such an odd role.  While I don’t think placing her in the lead category is an egregious misstep, I personally would have made her eligible for supporting.  (I sometimes wonder if supporting should be broken into two categories.)  But she did show her boobies, perhaps that registered with the committee.

If I had to put anyone up for an award, it’d probably be Rhys Ifans, who has shown surprising versatility (contrast his role in Notting Hill with that in Pirate Radio or this one with his character from The Replacements).  Things got kinda weird and forced when Brie Larson and Juno Temple showed up, but also sexy as well, so….meh?

Frankly, I find it disheartening to see Greenberg showered with nominations.  There are so many tiny movies with virtually no shot of getting a halfway blip of recognition outside this awards show, not to mention so many more deserving performances and films, it is a shame to see the Independent Spirits fall afoul of the same star-worshiping that besets so many other awards.

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