In a little over 24 hours, the eyes of the world will be on the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles for the handing out of this year’s two dozen tiny shiny bald gold men. Once upon a time, I would take the day off work the Monday after the Oscars so that I could be up all night, often in those days being glued to a tiny stream off the internet with a picture four inches wide, which was all my primitive internet connection could deal with, and watching with expectation and fascination while the awards were handed out. Then about four years ago I actually began watching enough films to have seen the majority of nominees, and quickly came to realise that a group of donkeys with pins tied to their hooves could do a better job of picking the best films and performances of the year than the Academy.
This article clearly breaks down the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences (AMPAS) membership: the overall vote for Best Picture is voted for by the whole Academy, which if you’ve not clicked on the link is made up of a membership that’s 94% white, 77% male and 54% over 60 (and a crippling 98% over 40). I’m white, male and much too close to being over 40 for my liking, but my typical movie choices couldn’t be further from the conservative choices typically favoured by Academy voters. Consequently, looking back at the twenty years since I left school and went to university and started to get bitten by the film bug, I’ve been disappointed more often than not by the Academy’s picks. Take Best Picture for example.
Three columns. The first is the film which won Best Picture that year; the second column is, of the five or ten nominated films, the one I’d call my favourite, and the last column is my actual favourite film of that year, regardless of whether it’s in the nominated films or not. As you can see, there are only eight years of the last 20 when my favourite film has even made the nomination list, and only five when the film I enjoyed most of the nominees picked up the top award. Only in one year, 2007, did my top film of the year actually pick up the top prize of the year. One year in twenty, and that year There Will Be Blood lost out, so as many people will have disagreed with me as will have agreed.
Now, I’m not saying that I should be replacing Oscar as the definitive authority on what’s good and who’s worthy, although I probably couldn’t do any worse. No, the issue here is that there are three possible sources of enjoyment from watching the Oscar ceremony itself: to enjoy the ceremony itself, to marvel in the frippery of red carpets, fashion choices and Ryan Seacrests and to see what’s won. The last of these is undoubtedly the main purpose, the awards themselves being the Christmas cake to the icing of the ceremony and the strange marzipan that no-one ever eats on anything other than a Christmas cake that’s the red carpet. So if you’re not feeling the love for what actually wins the awards, is there any point in watching the Oscars, or at the very least sitting up all night to watch them?
Consequently Oscar night is more than likely to be a crushing disappointment for me, and this year is no exception. No Drive, Shame, Tinker Tailor or Take Shelter in Best Picture, no Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling or Tom Hardy in Best Actor or Olivia Coleman, Tilda Swinton or Kirsten Dunst in Best Actress, and the four big acting awards – which should go to the big names of George Clooney and Meryl Streep, and the talents of Jessica Chastain and Nick Nolte if justice is to be done – could well end up in the hands of Jean Dujardin and Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all four of those latter performances – even if the film I saw two of them in occasionally made me want to throw things at the screen – but for me they’re not the right choices, and the odds of all four prizes going to the names I’d like are about as high as Jack Nicholson turning feral and chasing the rest of the front row out of the auditorium. When all the awards ceremony itself can offer up is rehashing Billy Crystal and excluding the performances of Best Original Song (“I’m a maaaan, I’m a MUPPEEEEEETTTTT!”), I’ll be heading for my bed at a normal time and picking out the bones from the latest fine mess in the morning. If you are staying up, best of luck, but I just hope you’re not in it for the winners; trust me, you’re going to be disappointed somewhere.
Oscar nominations were announced today. Most of the film industry has gone absolutely mad over them. I’m left wondering if the people who voted have actually seen half of these films. So here’s a little exercise. Listed below are the nine films nominated for Best Picture this year. I’ve seen the first five, and have ranked them in order, the other four are somewhat random.
- The Artist
- Midnight In Paris
- The Help
- The Tree Of Life
- The Descendents
- War Horse
- Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Now here’s a list of eighteen films which weren’t nominated for Best Picture. Your task is to count how many films on the bottom list should have been on the top list, and consequently vice versa. If you can’t find at least four films to swap over, you’re doing it wrong.
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
- Take Shelter
- Super 8
- We Need To Talk About Kevin
- A Separation
- Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
- The Ides Of March
Excellent. If you’re not weeping into your cocoa at the sheer injustice of it all by now, then you have my pity.
It’s 2012! Year of The Avengers, The Hobbit, The Dark Knight rising, The Spider-Man being hopefully Amazing and The Bond Falling out of the Sky. Forget your Olympics and your Jubliees, 2012 is the biggest year in film sequels / prequels / reimaginings / continuing series with the same character that have a very confused continuity ever. Yes, I said EVER. If you’re not excited about this year, then please visit a doctor immediately to be checked for a pulse.
Of course, when you see as many films as I do, it’s not all about the big summer (or winter) blockbusters. Just as the year is divided into seasons, so the Movie Evangelist’s year is also made up of four periods with a vaguely connected theme: Awards Season, Blockbuster Season, Film Festival Season and Busy Singing Christmas Carols So Not Getting To The Cinema Enough Season. We’re slap bang in Awards Season right now, so trailers abound for the likes of award worthy films like The Iron Lady and J. Edgar. While a couple of my picks this month have troubled the awards list compilers, there’s still plenty of stuff in cinemas for those that have a slightly different sensibility. For your consideration this month:
Alison Pill for Best Actress That Has Tiny Roles In Good Movies We Should See More Of
Seann William Scott for Best Attempt To Work Within The Limitations Of Your Career
Liev Schrieber for The Jason Isaacs Award For Best Facial Hair
Michael Fassbender for Best Actor Who Could Be James Bond Next
Carey Mulligan for Best Actress Who’s Quite Similar In Most Of Her Films
Steve McQueen for Best Artist Turned Director
Kevin Spacey for Best Actor From Fifteen Years Ago Who Inexplicably Stopped Being In Good Films For A Long Time
Jeremy Irons for Best Enunciation
Demi Moore for absolutely nothing whatsoever (speaking in a monotone isn’t acting love – sorry)
A Useful Life
A Useful Life for Best Foreign Language Film Of The Month In Black And White That Isn’t The Artist
Gerard Butler for Best Actor Willing To Lower Himself To Pretty Much Anything But Nice To See Him In Something With Quality
Ralph Fiennes for Best Director Wanting To Make An Action Film, Shakespeare Or Not. (Who knew?)
William Shakespeare for Best Original Screenplay for Gladiator. Apparently.
Liam Neeson for Best Fight With Wolves With Broken Bottles Strapped To Your Knuckles. That is all. (Frankly, what more do you need. This looks amazeballs.)