And the Oscar Goes to… Who Cares?
I love movies. I love the escapism that they offer after a long week at work. I love seeing my favourite actors tackle yet another character. I love the flashy special effects, the engaging and taunt writing, and a director who knows what he (or she!) is doing. I love movie trailers. If I’m not careful, I’ll burn hours of my life on YouTube catching up on movies coming and going in small, three minute increments. And if you’re reading this, chances are you love movies too.
So why are the Academy Awards, the biggest movie awards show, having such a hard time getting us to watch the Oscars?
To be honest, I’ve never really understood the pull to watch. I mean, it’s really the equivalent of being invited to a high school awards ceremony to see who won “Most Valuable Player” or “Highest Math Average”. Except that when you get there, you remember why you hated high school in the first place. The night is you hanging out with people you don’t really know, the food is terrible, and the only positive thing in the room is the MC making jokes (if that). You’re excited to see certain people, but you don’t really know them, not really.
Let’s face it: the Oscars are not really meant for us. They’re meant for the movie community to honour their own; those people who have done incredible work over the last year. It’s nothing more than another stage that allows us to, yet again, admire our idols and celebrities. On top of that, the movies that get nominated are not the ones that the average person watches. Parents who only go to the show with their kids, teenagers who want to know what happens in the latest comic book flick – most of the time, these are the people that the Oscars are leaving behind. (Except, of course, for the Animation category — you’d be amazed at how many parents have an opinion, having usually sat through all of them).
While the Oscars do little for me when they actually air, it does help when the nominations come out. The reason: because those are amazing films that I’ve managed to miss amid the hustle and bustle of the summer blockbusters and holiday flicks. Like I said, I love going to the movies, but it’s almost always to see the newest popular film, something that I can actually discuss with friends and the people I work with.
Of course, just because a film has an “Oscar feel” to it doesn’t mean that it’s Oscar material. Take the film Gran Torino. It’s one of my favourite movies, and probably one of the more powerful ones I’ve seen in my life. Growing up close to my grandparents and having a sensibility for the laws of the old Westerns, this film affected me on many different levels. I found it to be so moving that I insisted that a group of friends come see it with me, and they all loved it. I was blown away that it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, and the one Golden Globe it was nominated for was a song that it featured.
This past week, I was able to see Argo. Like the trailer for Gran Torino, the Ben Affleck-directed Argo caught my attention immediately and I was sold. Knowing that it wasn’t of my usual theatre fare and that I probably wouldn’t see it if I didn’t go with someone, I invited my family. The film was incredible. It captured me from the very beginning and held on to me until the credits were almost done. Now I hear that there’s some Oscar buzz surrounding the film. The same thing happened last year when I saw The King’s Speech on a whim.
But here’s the thing: the Oscar nominations shouldn’t feel like a lottery. You shouldn’t be going down the list looking for a film you’ve actually seen. But this is, in fact, what happens. Unless I can find a theater near me playing Lincoln (among other films), then when I go down that list in January, Argo will be the only Oscar contender I’ve seen. That is a shame.
I’m torn on the validity and use of the Oscars. On the one hand, it’s giving light to the films that everyone missed. If it didn’t get the take at the box office that it wanted, at least give it an Oscar. At the same time, the films nominated are exceptional and often deserved to be raised to a higher pedestal. But then again, there is the odd time when the popular meets the sublime. Take Titanic and Avatar, which took out the box office and swept the Oscars (whether or not they deserved it is another discussion for another article).
All I know is that no matter how great the Oscars are or how important they are to the film industry, I probably won’t be in attendance, either in person or watching on screen. I wouldn’t know what fork to use first at dinner or when to clap. And let’s face it: I probably haven’t seen the films being nominated anyway.
Agree? Disagree? Do you watch the Oscars? Do you see the films? Fire me a comment below.
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