Duncan Jones nostalgic sci-fi space romp, Moon, is a mostly well known film in certain circles, with those circles mainly consisting of people who are passionate fans of cinema in one form or another. Outside of those too cool for film-school film fans, Moon is not a recognizable name (unless you’re talking New Moon, of course), and the general public has little to no clue about the movie. At least that is what I assume but my assumption is more than likely spot on.
That alone somewhat speaks for how the film was completely neglected by the Academy this year – in a ceremony that applauded ten films instead of five – so they could make room for movies more along the lines of the summer blockbuster. Or, to put it in simpler terms, make room for films that the general public know about, thus, drumming up better ratings from the “average person.” Basically, popularity over substance becomes even more prevalent.
Most passionate film buffs that have seen Moon have applauded actor Sam Rockwell‘s performance as Sam Bell, often saying he was criminally snubbed by the Academy. After finally seeing the film for myself – with abnormal expectations mind you – I could not agree any more. Rockwell’s performance is a multilayered one, and his range makes him more than capable of pulling off such a complex and well written character. If he couldn’t, the film would falter greatly.
Sam Bell is a character that faces tough questions about his actual being and is forced to do so with only himself to try and answer them. He is incredibly sad in many ways, and the bleakness that comes from ones questioning of their own existence when one lacks that existence is more than simple food for thought. However, the average moviegoer would prefer comfort food as opposed to something made with a complex recipe and foreign ingredients. Not that there’s anything wrong with a little comfort food, but a good and healthy diet it certainly does not make when that is all that one consumes.
Robbed of an Oscar nod, sure, but Rockwell is not the only crater on Moon’s surface that was more than deserving of some golden love. Moon is astonishingly made on every technical level with an eye pleasing ‘aged future’ set design that harkened back to the science fiction cinema of yore – the smooth and engulfing emptiness that is captured by the film’s Director of Photography, Gary Shaw, is top notch – and the story, originally written by Jones, has the capability to rope in the viewer, giving just enough slack so that the narrative remains captivating until the film’s reveal and ultimate conclusion. And all of these things were achieved with a $5 million dollar budget?! Wow, who would have thought that a wonderful film could be made for less than $50 million dollars. But it wasn’t about the money (what?!), instead, it was about using the muscle in most everyone’s head (neglected or not), the brain, to transcend budgetary restraints.
If you ask me, and you did by reading this, Moon – based off the other films that I have seen that also were awarded the prestige of being recognized by the Academy – was deserving of a Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Director and Picture nomination. Shit, the very subdued but powerful score by Clint Mansell may even be worth at least a thought for Best Score. Getting back to the “big award,” though, I just don’t understand how with ten spots for Best Picture, there is no room for a film like Moon? I mean, it was smile inducing to see District 9 on there – it was a great movie, and I, as most were, was surprised by the nod it received for best picture. But was it better than Moon? Not at all.
The general audience might not get it and while that can be frustrating since it is they that determine what the Hollywood machine cranks out…they don’t know any better. They are mindless cattle that would rather go and see a film to have something to do, like text and giggle at the screen. On the other hand, the Academy of ARTS and SCIENCE, a group that is meant to honor the BEST that cinema has to offer, most certainly should know better. Shame on them for ignoring such a fantastic film, but kudos to Duncan Jones for making one.
Matt House is a Massachusetts born fan of all cinema genres and eras but has a love affair specifically with horror, cult and foreign films. He writes for the online magazine BThroughZ as well as Paracinema…The Blog and his own personal blog, Chuck Norris Ate My Baby.