The topic that has awoke me from my blogging slumber is the movie award season. As I have stated numerous times over the years, I love movies. This year, I was able to watch quite a few films. And I actually enjoyed most of them. I have watched the awards thus far with a jaded eye. I want to care, but I know what is going to happen. And, as the Oscars are about to announce their nominees, I am torn between what I expect and what I wish for.
If you go through the archives of this blogs, you will see that I have researched the Oscar race for a number of years. I looked at how much money each film made, the box office vs. awards, and popularity of films. In recent years, the Academy has been following a disturbing trend of rewarding films no one watched and ignoring ones that people saw. The argument has always been that the popular films are not worth awards. In return, people are abandoning the Oscars by the million - since it only deals with movies they couldn't care less about.
HOWEVER, this year it is completely different. This is the year for the Academy to decide its future. There are actually several wildly popular movies that deserve awards. WALL-E is one of the best movies I have ever watched. The performance by Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (and many say in Tropic Thunder) was amazing. And, even though I STILL haven't seen it, $500 million worth of people think a little movie called The Dark Knight may have been worth a thought or two. Legitimate award contenders AND box office monsters. We haven't seen that since Lord of the Rings.
So the Academy is at a crossroads. It could do the right thing, which would be reward mainstream films for also being amazing. WALL-E and The Dark Knight for Best Picture. Christopher Nolan (maybe even Ben Stiller) for Best Director. Downey for Best Actor and/or Best Supporting Actor. Obviously, Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor. I'd even go for Meryl Streep for Mamma Mia.
It could do what it usually does (and probably will do). It could nominate Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, and Doubt for Best Picture. (You are so going to be impressed if that is right. Are they good films? I'm sure. But NO ONE FREAKING WATCHED THEM. We'll see acting nominees from Rachel Getting Married and The Wrestler and Gran Torino and Benjamin Button . And the big films, IF they get squat, will get a screenplay nomination or the technical awards.
It is pathetic. 1994, to me, was one of the best years ever for movies. The Best Picture nominees would have all won in any other year (Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show). Critical AND financial success was evident everywhere. But now, I wonder if that could ever happen. Would an Academy voter be able to see past Gump's $300 million take and cultural impact to nominate it? Or would it be TOO popular? I know that if the big films get jilted this year, expect the ratings to nosedive. The average moviegoer will once and for all consider the Oscar as highbrow, narcissistic back patting. And they would be right - although, typically, the Oscar wouldn't pay any attention to that popular opinion either.