Monday, March 8, 2010

A few thoughts on The Oscars

Had a lot of Oscar-related thoughts kicking around the dusty attic twixt my ears and I thought, in smaller perhaps more digestible screes, I'd air 'em out.

Little gold man, I present you with vitriol.

They've always been a bit of a big deal in the Sanders family.  I credit an enormous amount of my adoration of cinema to my mother's twitchy-eyed obsession with the glitz and glamour of the yearly Hollywood telecast.  As I've grown older, and more keen on the corporate pie-fingering so troubling in Tinseltown, I've lost some interest in the big show.

This years show?  Unsurprisingly ho hum.  The producers continue to marginalize the host's ability to smart-aleck the audience.  The speeches, oh the speeches, continue to be laundry lists of veritable unknowns, and I'm always baffled at why folks thank The Academy.  My most egregious complaint?  They chose to include 10 pictures for the coveted Best Picture category and do they reach out across the land to stock the larders with interesting and unique films to balance out the steaming piles already guaranteed spots?  Not a chance.  Instead they backslide, awarding a handful of truly awful films chances to take home Oscar gold.

Now I haven't seen it, but The Blind Side?  My initial viewing of the trailer had me wondering who'd snuck the Lifetime Channel on to my computer.  Is this the direction the Oscars are veering towards cramming absolute sentimental pap around true winners like The Hurt Locker and to some degree, Avatar?  In lieu of Sandra Bullock vehicles, why not plug the newly minted Best Picture holes with deserving independent films or foreign pictures or a healthier dose of genre pictures?  Because these smaller pictures aren't going to bring in the piles of money the suit-and-tie, sun-tanned execs running the movies need to sleep on at night.

I think what bothers me the most about the blockbuster-clogged Best Picture category is the possibility that could exist.  Regardless of your feelings about the Oscars, the broadcast is watched by an enormous selection of people.  The films that are nominated are going to get a boost regardless of what they are, as just the nomination creates interest.  Thus, why not let smaller, more intelligent films gain some of the kudos, financial and critical, the Best Picture noms are lauded with?

Why not create a film culture based around quality and not financial success?

I'd love to know.


Criterion Counsel: Making headway. 


Mark said...

I read somewhere that the Academy changed the selection process when they decided to include 10 films for the Best Picture award, and this new format handicapped Avatar and helped The Hurt Locker. Will you shed some light on this? I'm sure I could google it, but I'd rather hear about it from you.

wescoat said...

The Hurt Locker is one of the lowest-grossing Best Picture winners ever made. It had made only 12 mil going into the awards, so they went small as well as big. No, the problem with the Oscars is that they are an event in which an industry gives awards to itself, and the older we get the more we understand how utterly, stupidly, vapidly meaningless that is.