Saturday, March 06, 2010
The Oscars Are Now On Par with the MTV Movie Awards
Maybe this awards ceremony has been shameful back-patting for years now, but there was one moment that gave me a sort of respect for the Academy. Two years ago, the Coen brothers finally won their Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director(s). And the competition they were up against was worthy: P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood, which Daniel Day Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar for. Then there was that beautiful moment when the Swell Season won Best Original Song for Once. Hell, even Jon Stewart hosted the ceremony. Maybe the best host they've ever had.
Everything seemed right. Popular movies weren't winning, good movies were. It wasn't a year to declare anything "important," it was just a year to enjoy the best films. Then, the very next year, a forgettable movie called Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture. Not even a year has gone by and I'm straining to remember what was entertaining about that movie. It may have been decent, but it marked the Academy's return to their old ways: bestowing relevancy to whatever they believe is important to the time capsule of the day.
But this year, it's just embarrassing. Ten Best Picture nominations, most of which belonging to commercially successful films that wouldn't have been there otherwise. The Blind Side? Precious? District 9? Up? I'm just dumbfounded by all of this. Of course, I shouldn't be. The awards are about money. Avatar will unfortunately win, because anything that provides film makers with larger swimming pools and extra room additions on their houses will get a standing ovation.
I guess it just makes me wonder what the hell happened in 2008. Why wasn't it full of cringes and self-congratulation? Is the economy so much worse in two years that people value money-makers more than art?
If there weren't a few good movies interspersed amidst the shit, this wouldn't be such a problem. A Serious Man and Inglorious Basterds are in especially bad company. But I suppose they each have their star directors now. And that's the only reason they're still in there. It's not because these are great movies (which they are), but because famous directors keep the buyers coming to the theaters. And, sure, they still have that "dark horse" in The Hurt Locker. Nobody's heard of anyone in the movie, but there's always one of those at the Oscars. It upholds that "intrigue."
And Up. Ugh. Yeah, I know, you cried. Everybody cried. Great. But this really was the worst Pixar movie since Cars. If Wall-E and Ratatouille didn't get nominated for Best Picture, this is too little too late for Pixar. A much better animated film released this year was Fantastic Mr. Fox, and I don't think that it was nominated for anything actually. But, again, Pixar is the money-maker. People take their family to the newest Pixar movie every year. It's always entertaining. But the quality of the film is not why the Academy nominated Up for Best Picture.
I guess I'm just saddened to see the potential fade so quickly. Doubling the nominations has really devalued the worth of the Best Picture award. For a while, saying "it was nominated for Best Picture," at least hinted at the possibility that a movie might be good. But now that people will be saying "The Blind Side was nominated for Best Picture," it's over. Honestly, I think all credibility is long gone. The last hurrah was 2008, and it was a fun going-away party, but there's no reason for film-lovers to care about the Academy Awards at all any more.
I don't think I'll watch the Oscars. Not this year or any hereafter. This Best Picture nominations list speaks loud and clear about how little the Academy cares about movies that are actually good.
And isn't everybody sick to death of Alec Baldwin by now? He has that one move: the dry, low voice. I laughed slightly the first time, but now it's time for him to stop.