Jan 24, 2009

Oscar 2009: The Nominations

Every year in each major sport, there are end of year awards. The most prestigious award for the players is the Most Valuable Player. This is supposed to be the biggest individual award for any player to receive. Each year the debate rages over whether the award should reflect the "Best Player" or the "Valuable Player." Should it be the player whose team needed him the most or the player who just had the best year? This is what passes for a debate in the sports world. Why? Because the sports industry gets it. Reward the most deserving. Even in years when the best player gets passed over (every year Michael Jordan didn't win, every year Steve Nash or Karl Malone did win), at least the winner had a big year.

Now, if the sports world were the Oscars, then the MVP would not go to someone like Peyton Manning or Michael Turner or Tom Brady. It would be fought over between two punters, a long snapper, a middle linebacker, a punt returner, and a tight end. Are those important positions? Yes. Might those people have had a good year? Sure. Should those positions ever in a million years be named MVP? No freaking way.

Yet, every year the Oscars comes down to a battle between movies no one has seen. As I mentioned last year in my nominations review, I keep track of the Oscar nominations. I look to see how much money the Oscar nominated movies make. Allow me to share with you this year's crop of films vying for the naked golden man.
  • Best Picture - $37.36 million (avg)
  • Director - $37.36 million (avg)
  • Best Actor - $30.04 million (avg)
  • Best Actress - $16.66 million (avg)
  • Supporting Actor - $139.24 million (avg)
  • Supporting Actress - $37.2 million (avg)
  • Overall - $79.4 million for the 13 nominated films
So, how does that rank with last year, which was one of the worst years in movie history as far as money making goes? Glad I asked.
  • Best Picture - $43.32 million (avg)
  • Director - $37.28 million (avg)
  • Best Actor - $24.12 million (avg)
  • Best Actress - $24.38 million (avg)
  • Supporting Actor - $34.5 million (avg)
  • Supporting Actress - $45.20 million (avg)
So, for Best Picture, this year is the worst year since I've been keeping records - that was 1998 by the way. $37 million average? Are you kidding me? That means only about 4 million people saw those films. How good can these movies be? I can honestly say I not only have not seen any of the films, but I have absolutely no desire to see any of those films. Now, some may say that the Supporting Actor and Overall numbers don't look too bad. Allow me to rain on that parade.

The late Heath Ledger was nominated for his insane portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight. This movie took in $531 million by itself, which obviously threw off the numbers. After all, The Dark Knight took in more than THE OTHER 12 MOVIES combined. Yes, its $531 million take was higher than the $504 million that the other movies took in. Now, it is my opinion that if Ledger has not died, he would not have been nominated. That may seem cold to say, but it is true. That is a role that has been passed over so many times in the past (Jack Nicholson in Batman 1989, Robin Williams in Aladdin, Val Kilmer in Tombstone). Those were Supporting parts that so dominated the movie they made the main characters look silly. But they all missed out. And if Ledger had not died, he would have been passed over also. So if his spot was replaced with, say Michael Sheen from Frost/Nixon, the Supporting Actor number drops to $34.8 million and the Overall number plummets to $42 million - which would have been right down at the bottom of the last decade.

It is pointless to even get worked up about this any more. As I said last week, this was Hollywood's chance to get back in touch with the movie-going public. Sure, Benjamin Button made over $100 million, but do you know anyone who loved this movie? I knew people who said it LOOKED amazing, but no one who loved the movie itself. And the Academy tossed its quirky Supporting pick at Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder - mainly to acknowledge his amazing year. If they were truly gutsy, they should have given him Best Actor props for Iron Man. When 2008 is thought of in the future, the movies that will come to mind will be Iron Man, Dark Knight, WALL-E, maybe Mamma Mia if you live in England. And, just like other movies from years past that had a huge impact on film (Bourne Identity, Ratatouille), those movies that actually will stand the test of time will be tossed to the side by the Oscars in favor of ones that no one will even remember. I really think this will be the year that ratings just hit rock bottom. How can the average American even care any more?

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