Oscar Watch: Silver Linings Playbook

Harvey Weinstein’s a make-or-break producer, the sort of guy who can craft a career out of thin air, blow millions on a spec script, and corral tens of millions more for funding an ad campaign. The power broker is also behind some of the more head-scratching Oscar campaigns in recent years—remember Shakespeare in Love?—including this year’s big shocker: Silver Linings Playbook, which has garnered nominations in every acting category, as well as for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best director, and best editing.

There’s a reason he’s been thanked five times more than God during awards season this year: During awards season, he is God. And there’s no better proof of his higher power than the fact that Silver Linings Playbook—a perfectly acceptable, generally entertaining little romcom—has nabbed so many noms.

The story of a mentally unstable dude (Bradley Cooper) who finds some semblance of balance with a mentally unstable dudette (Jennifer Lawrence), Silver Linings Playbook is this year’s quirky comedy made good. It’s a film about a band of misfits learning to accept who they are and live with themselves and stop caring what the rest of the world thinks.

It’s Little Miss Sunshine.

No, seriously: Think back to the surprise best picture nominee in 2006. That film's about a band of misfits and social outcasts who decide that the way to get through life is stop giving a flip about what the rest of the world thinks, accept that we’re all a little weird, and dance, dance, DANCE in an awkwardly inappropriate manner in a formalized setting. (Granted, Little Miss Sunshine ends with a beauty pageant and Silver Linings Playbook ends with a ballroom dancing competition, but it’s close enough.)

The point is, we get these films in the best picture race from time to time. Annie Hall aside, they never win the whole enchilada—though they occasionally nab an acting Oscar, as Lawrence seems on the verge of doing this year and Alan Arkin did for Little Miss Sunshine—but they make things interesting and a dash of levity to the proceedings.

I have no problem recommending Silver Linings Playbook as a nice little date movie. But it's a far cry from the best picture of the year.