The Oscars: A Curmudgeon’s View

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.

1. Self-indulgence

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?

I’m a little teapot…

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.




18 people thought reading “The Oscars: A Curmudgeon’s View” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

  1. rtm

    I hear ya, Rich, the self indulgence is just the worst, that’s why even though I’m a chick I’m not much into the red carpet stuff. I’m not as cynical about the whole Oscar thing as you though, so I’d still watch it :D

    Btw, I’ll add your link to my post today as I have an Everybody’s Chattin’ Oscar edition post, all views welcome!

    1. Richard Post author

      Thanks, Ruth! Glad you’re open to all views. ;-)

      I was just on my way over to FlixChatter for a catch-up. See you there.

  2. Deborah

    It’s always a little dangerous to write a column like this, because, one day, you will be nominated for an award (gee, maybe even an Oscar) and then someone will Google you (or however they will be looking things up on that day ten or twenty years hence–no doubt in 3-D or maybe 4-D) and you will be walking up the red carpet, and they will ask you – “Aren’t you the guy who doesn’t believe in red carpets?” And then you will have to say something slippery, like, “but of course, I didn’t mean THIS award,” or “that was some other Richard,” or just to distract them “watch, I can now stand 12 minutes with my hand on my hip.” It’s inevitable.

    1. Richard Post author

      Ha! Deborah, if that unlikely day ever comes I will gladly face the scorn, willingly confess my hypocrisy and bless the day I tempted fate with this post. ;-)

  3. Lesya

    Love the style of writing, humorous and fun. I like the Oscars. I used to watch the show as a kid, when I even wasn’t interested in movies like I’m now. But I always was excited about the awards, probably, I felt that I was going to fall in love with filmmaking art. Now I’m a bit disilusioned, but I consider the tomorrow Sunday night to be quite important for cinema.

    1. Richard Post author

      Thanks, Lesya. Glad you enjoyed it, even if you don’t agree with it. I guess that, to me, the whole ceremony is pretty far removed from the filmmaking art.

  4. Margaret Reyes Dempsey

    This made me laugh in a half dozen places. I totally agree about the dresses. Who cares?!

    Deborah’s fear will probably come true someday, but I have total confidence that you’ll have a witty retort. You win my vote for Curmudgeon of the Year.

    1. Richard Post author

      Well, as an Englishman, I’m not sure I know what the Heat are but the Knicks sound familiar. Either way, I hope you made the right choice, Castor. ;-)

  5. Custard


    Thanks for this post. A funny, but good read.

    Its all about those guys demanding an extra zero on their fee’s next year….like they dont get enough already!!


    1. Richard Post author

      Absolutely. And in the process they give us extra Z’s. ;-)

      Thanks for reading, Custard. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Anna

    The year of Titanic was crazy it became some kind of weird phenomenon (not unlike Inception) and then sweeped the table. Inception was cool and a hundred times better, and almost as big of a production than Titanic, but received no credit from the Academy (unlike Titanic).

    I hate that the academy doesn’t appreciate sci-fi, thrillers or horror at all. Not even in the foreign language film category …

    1. Richard Post author

      I totally agree, Anna. The Academy had always been very genre aloof. I can think of many horror and sci-fi movies that should have at least been strong contenders for Best Picture, Actor, Director etc.

  7. Linda

    Your friend Margaret steered me your way today after reading my comments about the Academy Awards….yawn. You’re right about them being somewhat self indulgent, but even so I watch enough of the show to remind myself how little the awards mean. Like you, I’m far more interested in the movies than in what Hollywood thinks. I was glad though they had sense enough to give “The King’s Speech” top honor.
    Enjoyed peeking at your blog and will come back for more.

    1. Richard Post author

      Glad to meet you, Linda. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

      I found myself in two minds about whether The King’s Speech was a worthy winner of all those awards. Certainly, I loved the movie and thought Colin Firth was excellent. But was it a better movie than True Grit, or Black Swan, or The Social Network? I don’t know. Who does? I guess that’s the point.


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