I watched the Academy Awards show on TV on Sunday. I loved the actresses in their gowns. Eye candy. The Naughty Vicar was demanding to be heard. I loved Chris Rock, especially that skit where he interviewed people (I recognized some so I assume some of them were actors) about their favourite movies and got answers like Chronicles of Riddick and White Chicks. Hilarious. Hollywood likes to think of itself as a community of independent artists instead of a commercial community because it give awards to high class commercial movies instead of low class commercial movies.
The Academy Awards have a life of their own. Hollywood gets together, in spite of all the competition, to promote the American commercial film industry in a lavish show of clothes, cleverness and pampered flesh. The Oscars aren’t for the films that displayed the greatest skill and effort by an artist, or even for the industry’s own favourite films. They are for the films that promote the industry’s collective self-esteem.
On the other hand, some good films – according to my tastes and standards – get nominated and I am still interested in Million Dollar Baby, Hotel Rwanda, Finding Neverland, and a few others, even if I have to wait another few months and see them on digital cable.
I read some newspaper stories to find out what was nominated and to see what the critics were saying and guessing. I realized that I had only see one movie nominated in any category. I wondered if the commentators had seen all the pictures and if they remembered them all well enough to have opinions, or if they were just sounding off to fill space. People seem to think they can comment on the chances of films without any understanding of the process and without having seen the films. On the other hand, maybe seeing the movies doesn’t help. The Oscars, like the stock market, are driven by hidden forces.
I’m don’t think that movies can be compared to one another and evaluated objectively within many of the Oscar categories anyway. Some categories involve relatively neutral tasks, but a lot of it comes down to taste and personal judgment. I liked Randy’s blog post – he had the integrity to say that he was listing his own favourites.