Justice for “Gone Girl”

Hunter Goddard

Everybody who has seen “Gone Girl” asks you the same question.

“Have you seen ‘Gone Girl?’”

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Doubtlessly inspired by the 2002 Laci and Scott Peterson case, “Gone Girl” charts the disappearance of Hitchcock blonde Amy Elliot Dunne (Rosamund Pike) under suspicious circumstances which seem to incriminate her enigmatic husband, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck).

It is impossible to describe the plot in any detail without giving away the big reveal. It is a movie which demands to be seen. Suffice to say, Nick and Amy’s marriage is so nightmarishly, hilariously dysfunctional, you are not apt to forget it.

Yet, one of the most talked-about psychological thrillers in recent years has earned but a single Academy Awards nomination—Best Actress in a Leading Role for the inimitable Pike (an award which is all but guaranteed to go to Julianne Moore’s turn in “Still Alice”).

Overlooked were David Fincher’s breathless direction, Trent Renzor and Atticus Ross’ chilling score, Gillian Flynn’s brilliant screenplay and Carrie Coon’s stellar supporting performance as Margo Dunne.

Not even Kirk Baxter was nominated for his breathtaking editing. The scene with Neil Patrick Harris (you know which one) still makes you gasp after repeat viewings, even when you know what is coming. A film with that kind of power needs to at least be acknowledged.

“Gone Girl” is just one example in an awards season full of snubs and controversies. Despite current events, not one person of color was nominated for any of the acting categories, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s career-changing work in Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” was unforgivably dismissed.

The original 2012 novel faced similar disappointments. Also written by Flynn, “Gone Girl” was a worldwide bestseller, and literary critics championed it as revolutionary to the crime genre, but it failed to earn a Pulitzer Prize, or even a National Book Award.

Unfortunately, such pretentious and prejudicial treatment of the genre is to be expected among critics. Sir Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense himself, is the perfect example. He is often praised as the greatest filmmaker of all time.

However, Hitchcock’s 50-year career did not include any Oscars for Best Director. His 1958 masterpiece, the hypnotic murder mystery “Vertigo,” recently unseated Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” (1941) in critical polls as the greatest film ever made.

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Regardless, “Vertigo” was nominated for only two technical Oscars the year of its release—Best Art Direction and Best Sound—and near-sighted critics condemned it in its day as one of Hitchcock’s weaker pieces.

Again, the predictable Oscar categories were snubbed – Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score has since aged into a classic, and Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak gave transcendent performances, Novak especially, who played a character within a character within another character.

One flaw that “Vertigo” and “Gone Girl” share in common is both films’ problematic gender politics.

Nevertheless, Flynn argues (validly) that the critics who accuse “Gone Girl” of being misogynistic are, themselves, misogynists, placing even more restrictions on which representations of women are and are not allowed.

As for that ending—that ambiguous, divisive ending—a lesser writer would have recycled a finale we have seen countless times before. Flynn does not settle for less. She penned something that gets people talking about her theme of unconditional love, which is more than can be said for many screenwriters.

And, still, Oscar did not give her so much as a nod for her labor.

“Gone Girl” and “Vertigo” prove that awards shows can be, well, just plain stupid.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will shower Paul Haggis’s “Crash” (2005) with gold (even though Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” should have won instead), but not Hitchcock, or Fincher.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @hunter_gaga.