March 25, 2022
As a writer in the entertainment industry, I’m supposed to care about the Oscars. My primary focus is on television, which is covered by the Emmys (as well as maybe a dozen other awards shows), yet Oscars was considered the ultimate prize and I always tuned in live for the broadcast even if it meant sitting through an hour of commercials within a four hour show.
Celebrities spent thousands on their red-carpet looks. The town was abuzz with energy for a week leading up to the big night and forget driving in Hollywood due to all the street closures. It was the Super Bowl, World Series and the Moon Walk all rolled into one — but that was more than ten years ago. Today, most seem to agree the Oscars are… meh. Almost everyone seems to be tapping nails into Oscar’s coffin.
I’ve only seen four of the ten nominated films. All from my living room couch, not in a movie theatre. Even before the pandemic, I can’t remember the last film I saw on the big screen. It may have been BLACK PANTHER, which came out in 2018 and won Oscars in 2019. But, not for Best Picture, despite being the first comic book/superhero film to be nominated in the category.
The year’s Best Picture was awarded, controversially, to GREEN BOOK, which I saw on my last day at a film festival in Austin with a view obstructed by an overhead balcony. The theatre also gave me grief for bringing my carry-on to the screening because they assumed I was smuggling in food. Maybe they thought my underwear were edible? After some debate, I was forced to leave my bag in the office placing faith in strangers that my computer would be there when the film was over. Luckily, I was able to depart for the airport with all my belongings, but with a dampened movie-going experience. I would have been much happier on my sofa with my refrigerator full of snacks that didn’t cost me more than the movie ticket.
The 2018 award highlights how contentious the dialogue has become over the snubs and losers. There are always going to be disputes whenever films are in competition, but the sheer volume of nastiness ruins the enjoyment. Both the left and the right consistently find fault with something and are able to blow the smallest peccadillo into a full-blown culture war. It’s exhausting.
Then, there is the pendulum effect. The over-correction in response to public outrage such as #OscarsSoWhite. I agree something needed to be done to address long-overdue inequities, but the so-called “solution” is now getting justifiable backlash. Consider Aperture 2025, the Motion Picture Academy’s plan to make diversity a requirement for nomination. With an almost Draconian set of criteria to meet, some of it personally invasive, I wonder how many films in the future will meet the standards for nomination.
I used to see all the nominated films every year. This year, I’ve seen less than half. I also used to read all the scripts. Not so much anymore. I hope the Oscars recover from the ennui we’re feeling this year. Otherwise, future shows risk being nothing more than a Hollywood hand-job.