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Awards Season Mishaps

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Year after year, I am irritated by the ever-growing anomaly that awards such as the Academy Awards are ultimately not about appreciating the films; it all comes down to the zeitgeist. This year, seemingly every awards body gravitated towards the same 4-5 movies, and by no means were they the only noteworthy ones. I personally did enjoy two of them (Slumdog & Milk), but the rest felt so worn down as the season dragged on. I always fear that the other films not receiving the same influx of attention will be forgotten. They don't deserve the shaft, especially those small flicks that needed awards attention to gain viewers. In turn, specific elements of the films lacking buzz also fall victim to being overlooked. But in attempting to be more positive, I constantly remind myself that often, great films/performances/writing/everything are their own gift to us.
Still, I must bring up this quote from 2-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster. It's probably from years ago, but I remember it every year b/c she accurately sums up what the process has become.

"Winning the Oscar is no measure of performance. It's just bingo. You get five names that are thrown in a hat. One name is going to get pulled out and somebody goes, 'bingo!' You just wish it was your name. I mean, yes, the competition is unfair, and when you get to a certain point, and you're trying to choose between five different performances in five different genres that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, it's totally academic who wins. So of course you pick the people for all sorts of really stupid reasons. 'Well, this one's too old.' Or, 'This one is old, so let's give it to him.' Or 'This person hasn't had a good part for years. The nomination is the award'. Once you've had the performance, and you've had the nomination, I can't imagine taking it personally that you weren't the name pulled out of that hat."

That's the sad part: it's more about luck than anything else. There are so many outside factors.
Also, the Academy will never change their ways either; they nominate the same types of movies, ones that fit their predated mold and have the most buzz, biggest campaigns, etc. They lament about their tumbling ratings, and yet they nominate the most predictable films. Memo to AMPAS: if you want better ratings, why not go against the grain? Actually do your job and take the time to watch the screeners instead of just going by word of mouth. Then, we might not end up with the same lineups as every precursor. Maybe step outside the box and seize the opportunity to nominate a spectacular film that achieves the rare feat of appealing to both mass audiences and critics or an innovative, animated wonder for Best Picture even if you already have a category for it. Then, people might watch because not every award will seem like a foregone conclusion.
I'm not saying there are solid solutions to "save" awards season b/c there probably aren't any. Evidently, changing the show doesn't help either. The early word on this year's Oscars ceremony shows a 13% increase from last year's viewership but still places it among the three lowest watched telecasts (last year and 2003). And, the Academy certainly should not start nominating more popcorn blockbusters (except for the occasional Dark Knights), which would completely obliterate their credibility.
Perhaps the worst news of all: in about eight months, this crazy cycle starts all over again. So clearly, life goes on, and awards season is not always worth the preoccupation people have with it. We can praise and criticize all we want, but eventually, the excitement dies down and leads to the next big "thing". As the rhetoric subsides, my greatest wish is lest we forget, art is always about individuality, no matter how much or how little it is acknowledged.



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