Why So Serious? Oscar’s Death Obsession

Nominations for this year’s Academy Awards are a sombre lot. “So what’s new? Hasn’t drama always relied on at least one killing, just to keep the action ticking along? Surely murder has been a staple of storytelling ever since Cain and Abel. But there is a difference with the movie crop of 2003. In film after film favoured by the academy this week, death is not just a useful plot pivot or even a narrative climax. It is a theme, a puzzle probed and examined from the movie’s beginning to its end.”