And the Oscar goes to….who cares?

The Academy Awards are next Sunday, March 2.   Are you watching?  Do you care?

Not only am I excited to see Ellen DeGeneres because she makes a classy host, I also look forward to the awards shows to see some of my favorite filmmakers and actors.  Do I think the Academy (or BAFTA or the Golden Globes) chooses the BEST films?  No, of course not.  So often it’s about politics and who had the most money to campaign or an award goes to an actor who’s work has been outstanding but who’s gone unrewarded (Sorry, Robert Redford).

There was an interesting article in this Friday’s New York Times about how the studios are worried that the nominations;  which usually help to get smaller films a larger audience, but are having so little effect this year.  Have you made it a point to see all the nominated films or even all the Best Picture nominations: Her, Gravity, Philomena, Captain Phillips, The Dallas Buyers Club, Twelve Years A Slave, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle?

There are many people who don’t go to the movies, period.  And if they do, they want to see the latest comedy or action film or teen romance.  Many of the nominated Best Picture films would not be a Friday Night Date Night contender.  I thought most of the nominated films were worth seeing though I didn’t enjoy them all.  I could have done without the violence (over-the-top brutality is never okay in my book) of Twelve Years A Slave, but the performances were extraordinary and I’m thrilled at Chiwetel Ejiofor’s BAFTA win.

I was bored with The Wolf of Wall Street and just wanted all the characters to get their comeuppance.  Who wants to spend three hours with men behaving like idiots–their ill-gained wealth just meant more repellent behavior, and did anyone learn their lesson?  I’m also not a fan of Jonah Hill’s acting, so that also colored my view of the film.

I thought Captain Phillips was a good film and the ending was amazing but having already seen the more gripping and perhaps, more realistic, Danish film, The Hijacking, I wasn’t as impressed as I might have been.  I was also put off by the flag-waving, military rescue.

So I have reservations about three out of the nine nominations, but I would still recommend the rest as amazing experiences at the movie theater.  I would definitely recommend you see Gravity as it was intended–in a 3-D theater.  You can take your parents to see the touching, Philomena.  You can take a date to the lovely modern romance, Her.  And if The Dallas Buyers Club is a little light on it’s historical details of the AIDS epidemic, it’s still a worthy contender with it’s two leads giving heart-felt, brilliant performances.  The black and white film, Nebraska has performances that are so nuanced as to seem completely true-to-life and a simple story that is universal.  And heck, American Hustle is just fun!  See it for the hair and costumes and you may be surprised that you actually begin to care for these characters and whether they can stay out of jail.

So, if the Oscar attention “has not ignited a box-office fire for any of those small-budget candidates for best picture.  The resulting question: Is anyone outside the Hollywood bubble paying attention to all of this Oscar noise?”

What is the answer?  Is it the sad truth that all the BEST films must be released in the winter months or they’ll be forgotten by Academy voters?   Perhaps if movie goers weren’t forced to sit through endless trailers and advertisements in newspapers for the “important” films…those films that the nominating committees have deemed worthy of our attention, then they might be more interested.  If audiences were allowed to discover them on their own, perhaps then, audiences would not be so resentful that these films dominate the theater screens for months or are re-released to take advantage of audience’s who are interested in films that were nominated.  Is it any wonder that your average movie-goer turns away from films of quality to the more light-hearted fare?  No one wants to be SOLD.  No one wants the same film in the theater for months or to be told like the 12 Years a Slave  campaign that “Now is the time” (to force ourselves to see the film).  No, we want to have the joy of discovery.

I know you’ll be watching the Oscars.  Let’s discuss them over cocktails!  Cheers!

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/movies/awardsseason/oscars-best-picture-candidates-seek-box-office-bumps.html?_r=0

3 thoughts on “And the Oscar goes to….who cares?

  1. Jill, I adore your posts, and especially appreciated this one with your take on the Oscars, which confirmed my sense of how it all works. You write so well, and with such discernment about film, thank you!

  2. I’m writing this post-Oscars, but you make some valid points. Some of the movies in question felt a little bit like ‘medicine’ movies … they’re good for us, but they’re hardly escapism. Can’t blame the casual movie goers who wants to avoid ’12 Years a Slave’ for a date night movie. What hurt the Oscars for me this year was its utter predictability. Let’s face it. If you track the previous dozen awards shows you pretty much know who will win on the big night.

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