As is usually the case when there are no orcs involved, I didn't see any of the best picture nominees. I heard some good things about Crash. Everybody says it's very earnest. Of course, if being earnest were the same as being good, the Indigo Girls would be the greatest band ever.
It's weird how, given how much we prize authenticity and earnestness, that it has so little to do with quality. Like, for example, The Mooney Suzuki, in a completely cynical, commercial move, went into the studio with Avril Lavigne's producers and made their best album, Alive and Amplified. (Strange, though, in that it succeeds on an artistic level, as much as you can say "an artistic level" about a record with songs like "Loose and Juicy" "Naked Lady" and "Messin in the Dressing Room", but it wasn't actually a hit.) Kiss, if you believe Gene Simmons (not sure why you should, except he seems to be less full of shit on the subject of money than anything else), has been a completely cynical moneymaking machine from day one. But this doesn't dim the brilliance of, say, "Deuce". I mean, "get up and get your grandma outta here." No idea what that song is about, but they had me at get your grandma outta here.
So does earnestness ever translate into quality? Sure--how about "One Tin Soldier"? Ummm, okay, maybe not. Ummm...Paul Theroux really seemed like he wanted to make a point in "Kowloon Tong". That was earnest. And it blew. Okay, okay, um, wait--"Rockin' in the Free World"! Okay, so earnestness doesn't necessarily equate to suckitude.