You and Oscar Have Fun.

February 25, 2007

Oh, right. The Oscars are tonight. I completely forgot because, you see, I don’t care. I’m not entirely sure when I stopped caring, but it was three or five years ago, when I had somewhere to be the night of the show and didn’t realize that I was missing. Since then, I can’t be bothered to give half a damn.

Making Oscar predictions is a little like betting on a horserace that takes all year to unfold, with each horse running the track a week apart, in slow motion. And the whole thing is rigged anyway. Not literally rigged, as in the voting is tampered with, but rigged as in the reasons why people vote don’t have that much to do with the categories. Best Actor trophies go to people, not to actors for the roles they played since last year. The Best Director Oscar gets awarded not for a movie in the last year, but for a director that Academy members either want to work with or apologize to for past years. The Departed was terrific, but the ultimate reason why Scorsese will win this year (assuming) is because he released a movie after the rags ran articles on his recurring failure to win much-deserved Oscars.

The movies that get nominated can be spotted a month away, now, by when it gets released, by what arm of what studio, who’s in it and how the studio chooses to market it. Movies are made to win Oscars, like they’re competing for a marketing scholarship. The awards have so little to do with their categories anymore, I honestly wonder why we can’t just have the Academy nominate five directors, actors and actresses each year who they’d like to fuck or hire or dine with or study under or comb their hair, regardless of whether the nominee released a movie before December 31st of last year.

The show is dull — fifteen minutes of entertainment broken up like a pill and stirred into four hours of mush — and I can watch the highlights anytime I want to for the next four months anyway.

Yet the Emmies still hold a thrill for me. Why? Because the nominees continue on after the award show. Because an Emmy can be appreciated or despised in the context of a show’s ongoing run. It’s not necessarily more fair or rewarding, but it’s at least a little more meaningful. Why does a show win one year and lose the next? Why does a writer? A cast?

If the Oscars awarded five trophies for Best Picture every five years, that might be more compelling. Did three Best Picture-worthy films come out in one year? Great — they all get one. Did the first Lord of the Rings maybe deserve the Oscar, while the third one shouldn’t have even been nominated? Fine, then, at least we won’t be praising one movie just for managing to complete a trilogy. The Best Picture in a year of garbage isn’t equal to Best Picture in a year like 1974, when Godfather II was up against Chinatown and The Conversation.

I mean, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goodfellas and L.A. Confidential are all in the same bracket as The Cider House Rules, The Fully Monty, Jerry Maguire and Quiz Show? Really? They’re all Best Picture nominees, but because these movies came out in the same year as movies like Chariots of Fire, Titanic or Forrest Gump, they don’t get to put the award on their DVD box. Whatever.

Five years of hindsight might go a long way toward developing awards that can appreciate, say, Munich as opposed to Crash, or Fellowship of the Ring as opposed to A Beautiful Mind. Better than that, it might let us recognize that E.T. and Ghandi are both Best Picture-caliber movies, even though Richard Attenborough and Spielberg released them in the same year.

Update: I happened to be in the kitchen making coffee when Michael Mann’s montage for America (or is that Montage For America?) came on. There’s four of the fifteen minutes of entertainment right there. I forgot about the montages — they’re what I miss about watching the Oscars. Losing four hours of my Sunday night is not what I miss.



  1. This year it will be fifteen minutes of entertaiment (with bad sound) mix with 4 hours of politics. Of course you can’t let your brother hear any of this.

  2. Hello

    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


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