The nominations for the 888th presentation of the Academy Awards were announced earlier today. To save time, I’ve avoided them. This coming from a jaded viewer, once ready for Oscar night, now indifferent. The simple truth is this antiquated award ceremony, where a small sector of the population pats themselves on the back before all the world, has overstayed its welcome. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
Last year saw what in all likelihood will be known as the low point in production quality for the Oscars. Hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway will called up to inject some youth into this stuffy tux fest. Inebriated Franco couldn’t maintain interest, and cheerleader Hathaway was forced to overcompensate. In short it was appalling. One of my favorite hosts is returning for this year’s 4-hour contest of envelope opening. I’ll give Billy Crystal the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say he does an amazing job, which wouldn’t be out of the norm for Billy. The viewers at home are still left with hours upon hours of melodrama. The results are already totaled, so drawing this out has become a matter of filling commercial slots. I’ve never produced an award show, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about on this bullet point.
The Nature of Awards
It wasn’t until recent years that I took enough stock in evaluating praise to really think this one through. Short of the Congressional Medal of Honor, I can’t find a way to justify an award ceremony. The stakes are unimportant, and the subject matter entirely subjective.
Impossible to Judge
Most A-list actors are of equal talent. There isn’t a clear way to identify whether one beat another when the perception of the performance is also a matter of writing, direction, editing, and in some cases makeup and visual effects.
There’s Always a Winner
The past decade was a dumping ground of bad movies being nominated for (let alone winning) the most coveted of honors within their community. A look back at the ‘90s shows a far more competitive field. The Shawshank Redemption did not win Best Picture in March of 1995, but at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) it is voted as the best movie of all time. That kind of makes you reconsider how excellence absolutely has to be recognized at a predetermined interval.
No Longer an Honor to be Nominated
Following complaints regarding the failure to nominate The Dark Knight for Best Picture in 2009, the field was expanded to allow for ten nominees. Let me say this again, as many as ten films can be nominated for Best Picture. This means droves of films are going to be marketed with the “Nominated for Best Picture” playing during their Blu-ray commercials. It’s nothing special to get nominated, in fact you have to work hard to avoid it.
There is too much secrecy put into the voting system for the audience to believe in it. These are faceless people who are given the power to determine events that we are expected to accept. Of course if this was a popular vote by the people we would end up with a Harry Potter vs Twilight Oscars. I would however prefer that to the current system. There is no guarantee in either that those voting saw all the films nominated, or even enough to determine what should be nominated, but the American Idol philosophy would at least give me a say. That one vote is enough to compel from within ownership of the outcome.
Of all of these hard hitting facts the one which bothers me the most is how few within the industry are vocal on this matter. For all I care you can consider me as looking at the matter from outside the industry, what with my lack of income/job from reviewing, almost no readers/viewers, and geographically nonexistent location. There isn’t anyone to stop me from shouting distaste to the one person reading this, and for that I’m untouchable. What about the critic with the cushy desk job in New York City? Surely he can’t be pleased with the results every year. If only those at the epicenter of pop culture are deemed worthy of commentary, then there must be droves of these intellectuals who have caught on to this scheme. Why I’d wager each of these brilliant tacticians of white collar cronyism have a witty retort shelved, saving it for the day their paper goes under and Hollywood cares not of their opinions.