An Oscar nomination for Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" isn't guaranteed. Yes, sure, the rabble-rousing filmmaker won the Academy Award for best documentary of 2002 for "Bowling for Columbine" (famously shouting "Shame on you, Mr. Bush!" from the podium) and he earned a nomination for "Sicko" in 2007 (it lost to "Taxi to the Dark Side"), but he was overlooked for "Roger and Me" and "Fahrenheit 9/11." The latter snub was probably Michael Moore's own fault since he aimed too high in the derby that year, eschewing the lowly documentary category for a shot at best picture in 2004. He missed.
Now "Capitalism: A Love Story" doesn't have the same critical oomph behind its Oscar push. It only rates a score of 60 at Metacritic.com, compared with 74 for "Sicko," 67 for "Fahrenheit 9/11" and 72 for "Bowling for Columbine."
"Capitalism: A Love Story" gets good reviews from major media like the New York Times and USA Today and Variety calls this "one of his best films," but far less than raves from the New Yorker, Salon and Village Voice. The New York Post blasts it as "Moore drivel." The Washington Post says, "Moore showing up on Wall Street to make a citizen's arrest makes nary a ripple."
Even film critics who seem to like Moore's latest work decry its "dorm-room Marxism," to quote Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, who gives "Capitalism: A Love Story" a B grade.
However, that may be a big plus for its Oscar hopes. Hollywood voters have always been accused of having blind veneration for Marxism even after the rise of Stalinism and Maoism and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Five years ago Meryl Streep won an Emmy for her fawning portrayal of a heroic Ethel Rosenberg in "Angels in America" — a convicted traitor executed for giving nuclear secrets to the "Evil Empire." (Evidence found in old Soviet files opened since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. substantiates her guilt.) A few years earlier there was a deafening uproar at the Oscars when the academy gave an honorary award to Elia Kazan, the two-time winner of best director ("On the Waterfront" in 1954, "Gentleman's Agreement" in 1947), who had co-operated with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952 by naming eight former members of the Communist Party who'd already been identified to HUAC.