So the Oscar nominations came in Tuesday. As usual, they were all for boring, safe, generic movies. Almost nothing edgy or off the beaten path made the cut. Just the same old, same old and Meryl Streep’s 14th nomination. Movies don’t get nominations based on quality, and they certainly don’t win on their own merit. Winning Oscars costs millions and millions of dollars.

The single best film of 2009 had none of these. Though it starred Robin Williams, it grossed well under one million dollars and got virtually no advertising for its initial release, much less a puffed up Oscar push.

“World’s Greatest Dad” is a sick and twisted movie with a heart of gold. Robin Williams plays a high school poetry teacher with 12 unpublished novels, a class of inattentive students and a sexually perverted son who may very well be mentally handicapped. But when a shocking turn of events (that I dare not reveal here) gives Williams a chance to share his work with the world, he finds himself trapped in a moral quagmire.

What really makes “World’s Greatest Dad” special is the interaction between Williams and his son, played by Daryl Sabara (in a performance far from his role in the “Spy Kids” franchise). This is not the kind of teen you normally see in movies. His perversions are unlimited and described in incredibly graphic detail. He’s a shockingly unlikable character, but he never spills over into the realm of cartoonishness. Instead he is held in the quiet, sad realism of Sabara’s studied and absolutely Oscar-worthy performance.

During the second half of the film, in which we truly begin to understand the adolescent, his pathetic narcissistic demeanor fades away and becomes almost tragic, all while remaining laugh-out-loud funny.

Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait expands his visual palette here, making his five-million-dollar movie look like a studio production. His camera work has developed greatly since his first effort, “Shakes the Clown,” and his emotional sandbox has continued to evolve, sprinting past the oddly heartfelt nuance of his previous feature, “Sleeping Dogs Lie.”

This is a hard movie to describe. Goldthwait has a habit of creating big reveal narratives that cannot be easily surmised in a trailer. To explain the twist here might make more readers want to watch the film, but it would also rob them of the sucker punch. And though the movie is certainly funny, when the moment comes, you might find yourself holding back tears. I know I did. It might be the best scene in Williams’ whole career.

Goldthwait has a cruel sense of humor to be sure. He puts his protagonists in impossibly difficult situations and drags laughs from the most horrific things possible. But he is not a sadist, nor does he hate his protagonists. As with Todd Solondz, Goldthwait clearly loves his creations deeply.

“World’s Greatest Dad” is a film that demands to be seen. It’s overflowing with cracked and broken humanity pushing forth in a Sisyphean task of making it day to day. It has more laughs, personality, originality and truth than 10 Academy Award Best Picture winners. It is like nothing you’ve ever seen, and in spite of its darkness, it will lighten your day.

“World’s Greatest Dad” is currently available on DVD.