Prof. Dombrowski Talks Oscars in USA Today

Film professor Lisa Dombrowski offers her insight about the large number of performers nominated for playing flawed anti-heroes among this year’s Oscar nominees in USA Today:

“It’s always more appealing to watch selfish Scarlett in Gone With the Wind than self-sacrificing Melanie,” says Lisa Dombrowski, an associate professor of film at Wesleyan University, about the polar-opposite heroines of 1939’s best picture.

But the tendency to actually reward roles of a shadier type has grown more consistent since the tumultuous Vietnam era, when Hollywood moved away from the glamorous fantasy of musicals and ancient epics and toward the gritty reality of drama and intimate character studies.

“Most people will date the rise of the anti-hero to the 1960s, when the entire casts of Bonnie and Clyde and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf were nominated,” she observes. “There was a shift to embracing characters that are highly flawed yet compelling.”

A time of war and societal upheaval also might be behind the shadowy nature of this year’s nominee roster.

“The reflective attitudes of these characters fit the mood of this year,” Dombrowski says. “We are coming to the end of one presidential cycle and looking ahead at what is next. It is a time of self-questioning and coming to grips with failed assumptions.”

I don’t know, I thought lead roles busting heads and getting knocked up were timeless with or without a shitty presidency.