Tuesday, 18 August 2009

In Defence Of Oscar

I was reading a well written article over at Edward Copeland’s blog the other day. He listed his reasons for vetoing the three major awards [Emmy, Tony, Oscar] for their next seasons. The piece is quite interesting and comprehensive and lists all the inadequacies of these awards.

Anyhow, it got me thinking. I have been very devoted to The Academy Awards for quite some time [going on six years] and in those six years I’ve been consistently pissed off at some of their choices for nominations and winners. I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, I’ve talked off the ears of my friends and sulked for days – but every year I keep coming back to the Oscars – because I like the Oscars and what they represent. Anyhow, the other day I was reading Nick’s list of 100 favourite films and I noticed that my favourite film was in the 90s on this list, but this didn’t make me upset that it was not higher. I was just glad that it was on the list. You’re probably wondering, what this has to do with Oscar. Well it made me realise the main problem we have with the Oscars and other award shows.

The Academy represents excellence in film making. Although they’re generally thought of as an American Film Award they are generally thought of as the yardstick for measuring actors, directors, writers, film musicians etc. As audiences we expect The Oscars to choose the best because they’re supposed to be highlighting the best. So when they don’t choose the best we get severely pissed off. But that’s the problem. What is the best?

At the end of every year when film bloggers choose their best of the year lists and make their own personal awards we all take and look and comment. We agree with some of the choices we disagree with others, but we don’t get infuriated when our favourites don’t win or aren’t even nominated. Because we go by that old adage about freedom of choice, one man’s meat being another man’s poison &etc. We know that no two same persons will think that said film or actor is the best. So we don’t take it to heart. But yet we react completely differently to the Academy’s choices. Often behaving quite irrationally.

As I mentioned earlier I am especially won’t to doing that, so I’m not going to lie to you. I was pissed when Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead didn’t make a showing at the AMPAS when Brad and Angie were snubbed for The Assassination of Jesse James and A Mighty Heart. When Hilary Swank won two Oscars over Annette Bening, that Joan Allen doesn’t have an Oscar as yet and the list can go on for days. But I still don’t think that these [questionable] decisions mean that AMPAS are a bunch of quacks. Obviously some people in the Academy really were impressed with what they chose. I didn’t agree with their choices, but I can respect them.

It’s so weird about us that we refer to AMPAS as a bloc with a single mind. AMPAS robbed The Dark Knight, AMPAS hate Martin Scorsese, AMPAS grovels at Clint Eastwood’s feet. AMPAS loves Meryl. But AMPAS is not a person; they can’t feel all or any of these emotions. It’s made of up thousands of film makers and contributors. You already knew that. So why is so hard for us to internalise that? For whatever reasons they have a majority of members feel a certain way about certain entertainers. Is that a bit biased? Well certainly. But everything is biased. If I had my way Katharine Hepburn would have seven Oscars… maybe more. Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Costner, Linda Hunt, Adrien Brodey would have none. Judy Garland, Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant, Annette Bening, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore, Barbara Stanwyck, Alfred Hitchcock, Montgomery Clift, Natalie Wood, James Ivory, Ian McKellen, Joe Wright, Jude Law, Howard Hawks, Russ Tamblyn, Robert Atlman, Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Stanley Kramer and hundreds of others would all have Oscars. But I still am not disgusted with the Oscars.

I think of the Oscars as this really esteemed smart site that I’m following. They’re the biggest in the name because so many people are part of them. I look to them to see what they pick every year because I respect them. Do I agree with them all the time? Hell, no. But do I care what they have to say? Hell yes. So be involved in the Oscar race, get caught up in the winners and losers. Root for your favourites. But don’t hate the game. The Oscars aren’t God. They’re more like your father. You listen to what he has to say and you’ll respect his choices, but at the end of the day you’re going to pick your winner.


Tommy Salami said...

The thing about the Oscars is that it is comprised of actors and other film makers; not critics and audiences. It's who they like, and their reasons are different from ours. It's imperative to realize it is a promotional organization, and that's why we'll have 10 best picture nominees this year.

MovieMan0283 said...

What is it Peter Parker's uncle says? With great power...

The problem with the Oscars is their chutzpah - the fact that they're so smug and yet they are so often way off the mark. For all their prestige, their choices are routinely middlebrow, boring, ans Tommy suggests, promotionally-minded. Hype almost always wins out over quality.

But what really gets me is that they've decided to do away with the Honorary Oscars. Right now, history is the ONLY thing Hollywood has going for it, and it's truly pathetic that they would chose to ignore their own past in favor of more attention to a mediocre present (for ratings, no doubt). I grew up with the Oscars, but I really think I won't be watching this coming spring, primarily for this reason.