Sunday, February 04, 2007

THE "I HATE THE OSCARS" CROWD IS BACK

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later but the "I hate the Oscars" articles have started in the press.

Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star has written a screed "on behalf of those of us who do not give a rodent's rear end for the Oscars". What gets his goat are the inconsistencies with the Oscars and all the questionable movies and individuals that get these awards. He mentions the Oscars have nothing to do with quality of moviemaking and points to the number of Oscars won by Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa in the Best Director category as proof. (Big fat zero.) He notes Ron Howard has an Oscar while Orson Welles has none. He mentions how Barbara Stanwyck never won for Best Actress while Hilary Swank won two Oscars. He also points to other atrocities like Little Miss Sunshine getting a Best Picture nomination over Children of Men for example, and Dances with Wolves beating Goodfellas, and on and on.

I could go on a rant myself about how Pulp Fiction got robbed, but at least Quentin Tarantino got an Oscar for best original screenplay. But Tarantino's movies always seem to get robbed; same for David Lynch. Of course Martin Scorsese is forever getting robbed. The number of Scorsese movies that have gotten robbed at the Oscars is a long, long, long list. Anyway, bottom line is that this isn't the first time we've seen an article trashing the Oscars and we're bound to see more of them by the time the awards are handed out.

I largely agree with the criticisms of the Oscars. Too often these awards seem to be more about "who to let into the Hollywood club" as opposed to an accurate reflection of the quality of the movies. How else to describe all those years when Steven Spielberg got snubbed. Or for that matter, Martin Scorsese?

Me, I happen to fall into the "I hate Oscar" category myself for several compelling reasons:

(1) The show itself is lousy! Nobody tunes in to see coverage of any of the nominated movies. Instead, they tune in to see these "red carpet" shows on TV, overrun by "style experts" who care more about whether Sharon Stone passes muster with the "fashion police" than whether the latest movie she was in was any good. It's just a big referendum on "style"--- and on whether this year's host will ever be invited back or not.

(2) You know, every year people will tune into the Academy Awards is to see whether some old codger who's been robbed by the Academy for so many years will finally win an Oscar! This year people will wait with baited breath for Martin Scorsese to finally win Best Director for The Departed, or for Peter O'Toole to finally win a Best Actor award. We've seen big names like Steven Spielberg or Paul Newman win Oscars and get big standing ovations, and everyone would get so emotional and say what a great moment this was. But face it; the only reason it's such a great moment is because these guys had forever been robbed by the Academy to begin with! If there had been any justice these folks would have won more often!

(3) Last but not least is what is going on right now: the "Oscar race". All this hoopla and promotion and campaigning for Oscars going on all over town right now in the press. This really had nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with people being consumed by the business of Hollywood and these weekly "box office" totals. Winning an Oscar means money! You can promote your movies and your winning actors and directors as Academy Award winners, and people will go see your movie and rent your DVDs forever! Moreover, these agents can demand more money for the winning stars they represent and call the shots for these various projects! Conversely, if your movie ends up getting snubbed, that's lots of money up in smoke. Studio bosses could end up being fired! That's why people take out these "for your consideration" ads in all these trade papers--- they want to save their butts! The Oscars are just another part of the Hollywood "game"; it's not about the "art" or "quality" of movies at the end of the day for most of these people. Instead, it's about who has the best campaign.

Which is why I am just one more of the many people who will say, in print, that the Academy Awards cannot be taken seriously.

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