Sunday, February 24, 2013


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Academy Award Winner, Norbit

We're in the midst of a month devoted to Don Coscarelli, a decidedly non-Oscar director, so it may seem strange to do a post about an organization that celebrates itself once a year while we watch.  Well, it is.  But I'm doing it anyway.

I'm obviously not one of the first people to say that the Academy Awards are mostly irrelevant.  I say mostly, because the smaller films that they nominate for best picture do get a big jump.  Films like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook, for instance, had very minimal exposure until their best picture nods.  Subsequently, they have gained a completely new audience.

By pretending that America makes the best films, (outside of Amour, one of a very very small group of foreign language films to ever be nominated) the Academy has basically made it clear that they do not want the best films that came out in a single year to win.

In fact, in the last twenty years they have nominated Avatar, The Gladiator, Juno, Dances with Wolves, Ghost, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Babe, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings (all 3), Chicago, Seabiscuit, and The Blind Side, just to name a few embarrassing titles.  What does it even matter if you win best picture when you share it with Titanic?  I can name about fifteen films from 1990 that are more deserving than Ghost.  In fact, I would say most films that came out in 1990 were better than Ghost.  For instance, Days of Being Wild would have been a nice addition.  And, if you're going to nominate a Swayze movie, Road House or Next of Kin would have been better.

Likewise, the Academy may nominate some very good films, but they have a long history of picking mediocre safe films to win.  For instance, in 1976, a fantastic year for film, they picked Rocky.  Now, I like Rocky, but I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that it's more important than Network, Taxi Driver, or All the President's Men.

At the same time, a science fiction film has never won (2001: A Space Odyssey, I'm looking your way), a horror film has basically no chance (The Exorcist was nominated and Silence of the Lambs won, no other horror films have ever been nominated) while biopics (A Beautiful Mind, really?), musicals (Les Miserables) and epics (Lord of the Rings) mop up.  If you're not Woody Allen, you won't win for a comedy either.

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Best Picture Nominee, 1995

Amour may be the best film (personally haven't seen it yet), but it has no chance of winning.  I would argue that The Master is probably the most important and will be the one that will be discussed in years to come.  However, you can count on Argo or maybe Lincoln.  I am going to make my bet now and say Argo wins best picture.  It seems to me that the Academy is on a self love fest.  They will nominate any movie that is about the love of movies or the worthwhile nature of movies (The Artist, Hugo..).  In Argo, Hollywood comes off as the hero and they love that crap.

This year, films like The Master, Bernie and Moonrise Kingdom were snubbed for the likes of very very mediocre Les Miserables and Life of Pi. Likewise, where is the very deserving Matthew McConaughey for best supporting actor for Magic Mike?

Really, I don't even care that much.

So, why am I going to watch?  For the same reason I watch the World Series even when the Twins stink.  I love movies.  There is only one night a year that is set aside to celebrate film.  Perhaps I'll get a quick shot of Lawrence of Arabia or a moment of Christopher Nolan on the set of the Dark Knight Rises smashing that plane apart.  If we're lucky we'll get to see Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell.  It's a chance to yell at the screen and discuss the merits of a certain film while denigrating another.

So, with that in mind, I'm hoping Django Unchained wins Best Picture (The Master is not nominated), Roger Deakins wins for Skyfall (damn, that movie was beautiful looking), Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor and NO for best Foreign Film.

-J. Moret

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