a theatre, film & pop culture review
This post is a bit off-topic as the Academy Awards took place almost exactly a month ago, but a couple weeks ago, my friend Aaron wrote a post about why he still cares about the Oscars (and I’ve only just now caught up with his blog).
Each year I try to see each Oscar-nominated film — I managed to view all 53 nominees for 2012, hooray! — and then blog about each category (I do the same with the Tony Awards which is decidedly a more expensive and arduous task). Aaron, who embarked on a similar quest many years before I began, is my go-to for discussing, gossiping, and predicting the awards winners. We have a truly delightful, and oft- intense, time (I can get a little heated about these things: just ask Tom Hooper).
In his post, Aaron goes into detail, listing the myriad reasons why people — a lot of people — hate/complain about the Oscars (and probably every other awards show): so-and-so-was-snubbed, s/he was not included in the In Memoriam tribute, the ceremony has devolved into cheesy entertainment, the host sucks/is racist/sexist, and of course, the resounding favorite: the best nominee never actually wins.
To all of these complaints, I say: You are watching the Oscars for the wrong reasons.
Or you may not be watching them at all. For those who refuse to watch the Awards or even for those who do: How many of the nominated films do you watch, outside of the Best Picture nominees?
The point of the Oscars is to see the work. To go to the movies. (Unless, of course, you’re a nominee and then the point is to win in order to get that pay raise. But I digress.) Sure, these may not have been the films you would have nominated were you in the Academy, but look at it this way: the nominees may not have been the choices of some of the actual 6,000 voting members either. You can’t nominate/award everyone’s favorite (and thank god for that, am I right?), so many somethings and someones are bound to be left off, especially when you consider cinema outside of the U.S.
I love film, but I’m a theatre girl, and so, living in NYC, 90% of my free time is devoted to seeing live theatre. The couple months leading up to the Oscars is the one time of the year that devote entirely to film. Before the nominees are even announced, I’m watching the movies that are buzzing and that are shortlisted for the Oscars, and half the time those films aren’t nominated. (Where is Richard Gere’s nomination for the excellent Arbitrage? Where?). But: I enjoyed seeing them and then talking about them within the Oscars construct.
I see films that I never, ever would see otherwise simply because they may be/are nominated. These end up being some of my favorite films of the year. Nominees that I loved this year that I never would’ve seen, or possibly even known about, if the Oscars didn’t spotlight them: A Royal Affair, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Death of a Shadow, Fresh Guacamole, The Invisible War, No, Searching for Sugar Man. The Oscars then provided a frame of reference for these lesser-known films, and for discussing them.
So, instead of complaining for the umpteenth time that the Oscars are stupid because x, y, or z wasn’t nominated/didn’t win, perhaps consider the Oscars — and the Tonys and the Grammys and the Emmys — as an opportunity to get to know artists and works that you wouldn’t have known otherwise and to develop a greater appreciation for aspects of film that you may not always notice, but are integral to the overall experience. Look to those smaller categories — you know, the ones that always make you lose your office pool — and you may discover a gem. (Because let’s face it: The Best Picture category is always going to be a hot mess.)
As Aaron likes to say, and needs remind me every time I find myself worked up about one of Oscar’s “unforgivable” “mistakes”: A good movie is its own reward. So, don’t hate on the Oscars, just discard the trashy bits and enjoy the gems — and then find a really, really good drinking game to get you through the ceremony.