Oscar nominations are in, and we like a lot of what the Academy has chosen to honor. Eight nominations for Arrival? Love it. Kubo and the Two Strings with a nomination for visual effects? Unprecedented. Fantastic. Finding Dory not given a cursory nomination just because it’s Pixar? Great.
And then we get to the original screenplay award…
The Lobster has been nominated.
This one nomination is so confounding, so absolutely nonsensical, so objectively incorrect, that it’s enough for us (well, me) to say “fuck it, the Oscars have lost their minds! We’ll do our own one! With Blackjack! and Hookers!”
If you haven’t seen this pathetic film-equivalent of canine excrement then here’s a basic summary of the “script.”
The first half is an absurdist black comedy loosely satirizing modern dating culture. It’s not particularly funny or witty, but it at least has a clear focus and tone.
Half way through, it turns into a dystopian guerilla war story, completely forgetting its own premise, plot, and purpose.
What goes into a story? Particularly something you could classify as genre fiction?
You need a premise, for one. The premise of The Lobster is that in the future single men and women go to a sort of resort where they must find a suitable mate in the most objective, emotionless way possible. This premise ends up having nothing to do with the way the plot unfolds.
A story needs to have stakes. In The Lobster, if you don’t find a suitable mate, you are turned into an animal. However this fate is never shown after the opening minutes and, again, the second half of the movie forgets about the stakes it previously set. When stories ignore the stakes that they’ve set up like this they lose any sense of tension, because the audience doesn’t feel a threat.
A story needs an arc. The Lobster has two halves that are entirely incongruent with each other in tone, plot, and purpose. The (thin, weak, unfunny) satire of the first half disappears and the movie is no longer about what it thinks its about. There’s multiple themes that are set up and dropped. It’s really about nothing, actually. And you can make stories about nothing as long as the characters are good (Seinfeld anyone?) but that brings me to…
The characters are all purposely dull. In some pretentious delusion, the writers thought that having none of the characters of the story showing any emotion was some sort of genius satirization giving insight into the modern dating world. Newsflash: Ask any young person and they’ll tell you the issue with dating is that it’s all feeling, no thinking. Maybe the writers of The Lobster thought it would be hilarious to satirize something by doing the opposite? In which case isn’t that not satire?
A script so objectively horrendous, one that obeys no convention of writing and does nothing to justify why it broke them, getting nominated for best screenplay only has one explanation. This script is so bad that the Academy must’ve thought that they were just missing something, too dumb and simple to comprehend the certain genius they’ve just sat through. Therefore, in a desperate effort to appear like the high-brow snobs they want to be, they nominated this horseshit. They might even let it win.
Your opinion is invalid! I reject your ceremony, and substitute my own!