Monday, December 25, 2006

For Your Consideration

If anything is ripe for parody, it is the yearly Oscar bait season. Under cover of Hollywood’s most prestigious honor, the industry elite fall all over themselves chasing that elusive gold, the standard of which has fallen with all of the hoopla and cheapness of awards chasing.

Master satirist Christopher Guest would seem to be the perfect fit for this high value comedy concept and, for much of For Your Consideration, it seems like Guest and Co. might be on the right track. The problem with Guest’s rather (surprisingly) broad film is that it takes a far too acidic tone in dealing with the industry in which all involved are a part. Guest has never taken this approach before – his films have always had a certain respectful grace about them, even when they are lampooning the ridiculous – and it comes off as a bit mean-spirited, even if Hollywood has earned the venom.

The performances are generally as fine as ever, with Fred Willard the comic standout as a faux-hawked entertainment “reporter” and Eugene Levy as an inept agent (has there ever been any other kind in a Hollywood satire?). But For Your Consideration features a pair of truly fine performances, from Catherine O’Hara as the matriarchal star of Guest’s fake indie drama and Parker Posey as the bright young ingénue; both of whom get caught up in pre-release Oscar buzz (more on this later). Posey has rarely ever been this understated, and O’Hara has never been as nuanced. Ironically enough, O’Hara has generated substantial Oscar buzz for her knowing portrait.

Where For Your Consideration fails the most is in its rather juvenile interpretation of how the entire awards season functions. Oscar buzz never begins when a film is still in production, and studios don’t really have the opportunity to change their production based upon said buzz. While I’m certain that Guest has a more than sharp grasp on how awards season works, it seems that in bringing the concept to the big screen, the process has been watered down and simplified. This is unfortunate, because I think there was a great film to be made here.

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