Oscar season is upon us once more and the circus is well and truly in town. The blogs are buzzing, the free gifts and sweeteners are being sent and the usual pundits are all in a frenzy, trying to predict the outcome. Who will win Best Actor? Who will walk away with Best Director? What will Helena Bonham Carter be wearing? Who is going to fluff their lines? I know movie sites are supposed to get on the bus when it comes to these things, but I’m afraid I’ll be taking a different approach. Who cares?
I’ve loved movies my whole life, in many ways movies are my life, but I’ve never really cared much for the award ceremonies that accompany them. This year my interest seems to have reached its nadir. I look at the furore around the BAFTAS and, to a much larger degree, the Oscars, and wonder just how relevant they are to those who love movies rather than just to those that make them. And then I yawn a bit.
Here’s five reasons why the Oscars leave me cold.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of a bunch of industry professionals and it is they who decide who wins what. Therefore, what we have here is an industry congratulating itself on its own products. There is no consultation with the end-user, the people who actually use the product. It all seems terribly self-involved to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with awards. Awards are fine. And recognition from one’s peers is always welcome. I’m just not a fan of being on the outside, looking in. The Oscars feels like that. It’s like being invited to someone else’s party by mistake.
2. The clothes
What is this fascination with what the stars are wearing? Entire magazines are dedicated to this tedious conveyor belt of designer dresses. Elizabeth Banks is wearing a stunning Versace, Sandra Bullock looks divine in Marchesa, Zoe Saldana captivates in Givenchy. Give me a break, will you. Isn’t this supposed to be about movies? Nope, it’s about overpaid thespians showing off their shiny, free stuff. Recession? What recession? It seems the clothes even get their own awards. Best Dress, Worst Dress, Best Dress in a Supporting Role. And why does everyone stand the same way in them? Do these dresses all come with Velcro on the left hip?
3. The Academy’s crap decisions
This is the organisation that gave Best Picture to Chicago rather than The Pianist and Shakespeare in Love rather than Saving Private Ryan. And don’t even get me started on Titanic. Sure, it made big piles of cash, but can anyone really say it was a better movie than L.A. Confidential or Good Will Hunting, which it beat? Well, maybe Forrest Gump would. But he’s biased, having beaten The Shawshank Redemption. Run, Forrest, Run. Before Morgan Freeman kicks your skinny little ass.
4. It just goes on forever
I can understand the desire to elevate the award ceremony beyond a continuous procession of winners making nauseating acceptance speeches, but does it really have to last nearly four hours? That’s an awfully long time to have to stand with your hand on your left hip. Trust me, I tried it last night and made 11 minutes before getting drowsy. Which is about five minutes more than I can stand of the lame variety acts, and ‘irreverent’ jokes by whichever ex-comedian is presenting this year, which pad out each award announcement.
5. The internet has changed everything
When I was a kid, the question of what was the best movie of the year was limited to debates among friends and, of course, watching the Oscars. These days, I can go online and read the opinions of hundreds of people who love movies as much as I do. People who have sat in the cinema, or on the couch in the same way I have. In short, people on the same side of the industry as me. The audience. The bloggers. My peers. And I find their opinions and judgements far more interesting, and far more relevant, than those of the Academy.
If watching the Oscars is your thing, then I sincerely hope you enjoy the show. Me? I think I’ll stick a movie on instead.