The nominations are in and the stage is set for another Academy Awards next month. Strangely enough, the Oscar nominees elicit a weird reaction every time they’re announced. Critically the Awards are treated as the hallmark of excellence for film, acting, directing, etc., but often we as a society tend to dismiss them when we don’t agree with the nominees and/or winners. In my discussions with peers, I’ve even heard that awards ceremonies in general are rather pointless due to bias and personal opinion, yet when they talk about an award-winning movie with revere, they’re quick to point out that it won an award. This bi-polar emotion just goes to show that the Academy Awards will never truly win in the court of public opinion.
Perhaps I’m pointing out the obvious here as these are likely feelings or thoughts we’ve all had at one point in time. Of course, there’s also a good bet that most people don’t even think about the Academy Awards at all. Regardless, I believe the Oscars, though flawed and prone to nominate similar films each year, serve a good purpose as far as awards go.
- Giving attention where attention is due
Often we can know a film will be on the nominee list before it even hits theaters. Some, however, surprise us and make it on the list with little to no fanfare. Off the top of my head, Winter’s Bone comes to mind as a film that was nominated for Best Picture and yet few had heard of and likely fewer had seen at the time of its release. It’s a fantastic movie – and notably Jennifer Lawerence’s first big role – that deserved the nomination and one that I might not have discovered otherwise. Often I hear family and friends argue that’s it’s precisely unknown films like Winter’s Bone that turn them off to the Awards because they haven’t seen them (nor, for that matter, do they want to see them).
These feelings were most pronounced in 2008 when the Academy nominated a relatively unknown movie, The Reader, for the fifth Best Picture slot over commercial and critical smash hit The Dark Knight. At the time, I counted myself as one of the many who were upset over what I saw to be a gross bias by the Academy of choosing weird, independent films over superhero ones. I realize now that I’ve never seen The Reader nor can I vouch for its quality, but what I can say is that, whether or not the Academy was mistaken in their nomination, a new movie is on my radar that would otherwise have flown by unnoticed. This list has grown over the years and gives me something to look forward to when considering what I want to watch over the weekend.
- And the winner is …
Sometimes the Academy gets it right. Occasionally their eyes are open, their minds unbiased and the quality of the winners is undisputed. When it happens, I can’t help but sit back, grin and think to myself, “maybe humanity is worth saving.”
Again, this is obviously relative as different people will think different movies/actors/directors deserved to win over the actual winner. However, there’s a distinct difference between a great movie beating another great movie, such as No County for Old Men beating out There Will Be Blood, and a not so great movie like, oh I don’t know, let’s say Chicago beating out the likes of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. A good friend of mine was rooting for There Will Be Blood back in 2007 as we played a good round of Oscar bingo and, while he was disappointed with the final results, felt satisfied knowing that a worthy contender took home the big prize.
If all else fails, the Academy tries to put on a good show. I would wager that anticipation for the dresses and outfits on the red carpet are a bigger deal than the awards themselves sometimes. And if, at the end of the day, you still don’t like, agree with or enjoy the Academy Awards, there are always other awards ceremonies out there to satiate the desire to see your favorite films recognized and honored: the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and – possibly the greatest joke of an awards ceremony – the People’s Choice Awards. But I can almost promise you’ll never see anything as cool as this photo at one of those ceremonies.