Knee deep in the playoffs is where we find ourselves this month in the film world. Every film site you visit is ripe with “for your consideration” and promo ads reminding you just how many nominations American Hustle has received. However I think its important to take a step back from one’s cynicism and look at what the awards represent and mean in the larger scheme of things. Think about this clearly; Bad Grandpa is now going to be released on dvd with the title “Academy Award nominated film”. American Hustle ticket sales are as high as they are in part due to its release in the heat of the season. Sure Benh Zeitlin’s nominations were a total oversight in the past (hope I didn’t hit a nerve but I’ve said it since the day it premiered at Sundance and I’m sticking to my guns here) if you think about how the superior Fruitvale Station didn’t get any dues but does this mean that the Academy Awards are a joke? I don’t think you could argue that the makeup on Johnny Knoxville wasn’t impressive and that 12 Years a Slave is an unimportant tribute to the horrors of real history so I’d like to take a moment to sum up what the Oscars mean to me. Maybe they mean the same or something completely different to you.
Many people get so upset every year at the academy as if they’re supposed to make us happy. The Academy Awards do not predict the future of cinema or society so why do we expect them to? Their job is to give credit where it is due this year. Furthermore, the academy is made up of individuals who weren’t voted to represent the mass public. These are filmmakers and composers voting for themselves. Its no surprise that whatever makes the most money doesn’t always win the trophy. Each member has their own subjective opinions about what makes great cinema and they vote accordingly. Sure it gets political but mostly each member votes by their own opinions and prejudices.
I don’t know why but this doesn’t discourage me from watching each year and hoping that the academy will use some sense. Its fun and games with heart in an industry that can take itself either too seriously or way too lightly. Its the moment when all the effort you put into searching for the film gems and layered interpretations goes out the door. Its a time for laughs and healthy competition among the underlings of the industry.
I make an effort each year to see every single nominated film (including the shorts so big shout out to Landmark Theatres for putting them on each year!) and this year I’ve almost done it. On the 21st, after I’ve seen Omar, the Palestinian film nominated in the foreign language category, I’ll have done it for the first time ever. I’ve seen it all. I watched The Croods, Star Trek take two (haven’t seen the first but assuming i didn’t need to) and The Great Beauty with open eyes. It took effort. It took gusto. It took a lot of patience on behalf of my sweet significant other but I did it. I am now fully entitled to an opinion in every category and I am going to own it. No longer will anyone be able to accuse me of being biased in the production design category (still say Anna Karenina was robbed) because I hadn’t seen all the nominees. I have listened to the original scores (Gravity for the win) and suffered through the special effects (Star Trek dos). I let my younger brother take me to Bad Grandpa. I downed popcorn with fervor all throughout Gravity and not so much during Her. I did it all for the love of movies my friends.
I am going to watch that red carpet and I am going to revel in whatever classy ensemble Amy Adams wears and bust a gut to Jennifer Lawrence’s references to comedies only the coolest girls of our generation admit to quoting *cough* First Wives Club *cough*.
I have checked my devotion to Sergei Eisenstein, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Parajanov at the door. I am making Oscar-shaped chocolate bars and there is nothing the nonchalant critics can do to stop me. Are you in? Are you coming over to play bingo? Five dollars says Ellen DeGeneres references her Bjork outfit from her last outset.
I won’t ever watch the real super bowl in its entirety but I’m on team Her, Ejiofor and Denmark for the wins.