The only Oscar-nominated movie Matt Domino saw was Silver Linings Playbook, and he had one big issue with it.
Did you know that the Oscars are this Sunday Night? Oh, you read the Internet and watch TV. Right, I should have remembered.
Well, in that case, you probably know that Silver Linings Playbook is nominated for awards in all of the major categories:
Best Picture (25/1 odds), Best Director (David O. Russell at 14/1).
Best Actor (Bradley Cooper at 40/1), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence at
4/7), Best Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro at 13/2) and Best Supporting
Actress (Jacki Weaver at 50/1 odds).
It’s always difficult to tell
which direction the Academy will vote (or how they will be bribed or
swayed by the threat of violence) in a given year. Despite the fact that
Jennifer Lawrence is an overwhelming favorite to win Best Actress, she
may be undermined by even youngster Quvenzhane Wallis at the last minute. However, regardless of how the Academy votes, I know one award that Silver Linings Playbook will win—and that is my Academy Award for Lack of Philly Accents in a Motion Picture.
grew up outside of Philadelphia and even though my mother and father
moved our family back to Long Island when I was ten years old, my soul
and my sporting allegiances have always been strongly tied to the City
of Brotherly Love. Like Pat Solitano Jr. and his father Patrick
Solitano, most of the heartbreak and joy in my life have been
inextricably bound to the fates of the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies,
Flyers and Sixers. One of my first true memories of deep sadness was watching the Eagles lose to the Cowboys in the 1993 Divisional Playoffs.
year, my father and I try to take a break from our busy lives and
attend some Philadelphia sporting event. I still love every Philly
franchise, but my father doesn’t care about sports; he just wants to
bring me a modicum of happiness. However, what we both revel in no
matter our level of interest in the outcome of a given game, is the
In recent years, with the evergreen popularity of the Wire, the Philly accent has taken a backseat to the much more glorified and “street poetic” Baltimore accent. Whereas the Bawl-mur accent is filled with a kind of Southern twang and down-home warmth, the Philly accent
perfectly encapsulates that city and region’s endearing (some would say
“abrasive”) passion and fire. Any word with a long “o” (coke, smoke,
hoagie, doing, etc.) can become the stuff of insult or jeer—or war cry.
Now, Silver Linings Playbook
is full of powerful and realistic performances. And that film does
justice to the high level of fanaticism surrounding the Philadelphia
sports franchises (as well as real sports fans in general). As Grantland’s Zach Baron put it, Silver Linings Playbook
is the best sports movie in years because its about “how we live with
sports in the context of our daily lives, how they organize all kinds of
other life experiences that have nothing to do with sports, how the
teams we like make us who we are in small but specific ways.” Pat
Solitano’s rage, his father’s superstitious and quietly violent
demeanor, and Tiffany Maxwell’s bruised soul are all infiltrated and
haunted by the ghosts of decades of the struggling sports psyche of
Philadelphia. All of that, in my opinion, is there in the film.
isn’t there in the film? The accent! Even when Pat Solitano tailgates
with his brother, his best friend and his therapist outside of Lincoln
Financial Field there is not a single example of the Philadelphia
accent! When said tailgating experience turns into an all-out brawl,
none of the participants even utters one curse word with the spitfire
that only the Philly faithful can truly conjure up. Sure, New York has an iconic hostile accent,
but no one truly delivers the phrase “Fuckin’ asshole” like an angry
Eagles fan. In a movie that has performances that are terrific in many
other levels, this lack of attention to realism is noticeable.
all may seem like the picking of nits by one guy who’s weak heart seems
to hold a strong nostalgia for the city of Philadelphia, warts and all.
And that assessment wouldn’t be too far off. However, all I know is
that a few years ago, my father and I went to the then Wachovia Center
to watch the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament. We sat in the stands
and watched high seeds beat up on lower seeds. There were no upsets. In
front of us, though, we listened as two men watching the games—two real
Philadelphians—pointed up at the rafters and said, with the thickest of
Philly accents, “All the banners are gone, the Flyers banners, the
Sixers banners, hell, even the Billy Joel concert banners are gone.”
all of those long “o’s” and drawn out, yet hard syllables, my father
and I smiled. The smile was an acknowledgment that we’d always love
Philadelphia, whether or not the teams were doing well because there was
something so much more to it; something lying deep in that accent. And
all I’m saying is that Silver Linings Playbook—a film that
captures, through its performances and its atmosphere, what its like to
struggle in and around Philadelphia—should sound the part as well.
But, again, perhaps that’s just picking nits. It was a good movie and Argo is probably going to win Best Picture anyway.