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Was 'Bridesmaids' deserving of Oscar nod?

AP

Debate continues over whether "Bridesmaids" deserves its Oscar nominations.

Did "Bridesmaids" get left behind at Oscar's Best Picture altar? Or are the raunchy comedy's two nominations already more than it deserves?

Some early buzz suggested that Kristen Wiig's R-rated wedding-disaster hit was a contender for the Academy Awards' top prize, especially now that the field is open to more than just five films. That didn't happen, but "Bridesmaids" did score a supporting-actress nod for Melissa McCarthy, who played the endearingly obnoxious and sexually voracious Megan, and an original screenplay nomination for writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo. 

Best Picture was always going to be a long shot. The fact is that the Oscars have never been kind to comedies, as a look at recent years makes clear. Of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture this year, only Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris" is considered a comedy, and of the 10 nominations in 2010 and 2011, only the animated movies  "Toy Story 3" and "Up" qualify. 

Another thing to note is that all three of those films lean more toward the heartwarming than the edgy side, and the Oscars don't tend to favor that kind of tone unless it's in a serious, weighty drama. The bold use of gross-out humor in "Bridesmaids" surely didn't work in its favor for the big nomination. Instead, it was honored in traditionally safe, relatively minor categories for envelope-pushers — supporting actress and script.

 

But in any case, along with successful showings for "Moneyball" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," the nominations for "Bridesmaids" are a victory for mainstream, populist entertainment in a race that usually leans too heavily toward the self-consciously serious. 

Some fans were thrilled for Melissa McCarthy.

McCarthy in particular makes an unusual Oscar choice — her character is neither the long-suffering martyr or dainty model that usually gets picked. Megan is brassy, bawdy, and confidently sexual — a testament to McCarthy's fearless improv-comedy skills. But she's much more likely, in the end, to be a crowd-pleasing favorite who's mobbed on the red carpet, but who doesn't walk down the aisle at the Kodak Theater. 

Still, her nomination is winning acclaim among mainstream filmgoers — based on a totally unscientific scan of Twitter, popular sentiment is solidly, maybe 80/20, in her favor. One commenter compared McCarthy's performance to Nicole Kidman's in "The Hours," pointing out what the Oscars often miss: "Great comedy is harder than sticking on a prosthetic nose & looking morose." Another took the opposite view, encapsulating the unease many feel about "Bridesmaids" and its raunchy, body-fluid-heavy humor being honored among the best achievements in cinema: "Dear God: Please don't let Melissa McCarthy win an Oscar for pooping in a sink."

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