Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Winner Isn't...

Okay, without getting into too much depth here, it's been a while since I posted and I thought Oscar night would be as good a time as any to say that I really don't like that they've gone back to saying "And the winner is..." instead of "And the Oscar goes to...". To some of you this might sound like loser talk, but you've just been told that you're among the top five performances of that year. That, in my book, is a win.

And there has already been all kinds of uproar about Avatar not winning and about Sandra Bullock winning and... grumble, grumble, blah blah blah. That's why they have the People's Choice Awards.

You know what other movie didn't win best picture? Citizen Kane. You know what did win that year? You don't? For the record: How Green was My Valley. Did you ever see it? You know what other films didn't win? The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington didn't, the same year Gone with the Wind did.

Okay, yes it matters. But ultimately, it doesn't matter.

But here's the bottom line: the Academy is just as predictable as it's not.

Sometimes they pick the box office favorite (cf. Titanic), or the one that everybody expects to win (cf. Slumdog Millionaire) and sometimes they take the surprise (cf. Crash when everybody was sure Brokeback Mountain had it in the bag). What's predictable is the chance to make an easy political statement: Crash vs. Brokeback was a case of "What's a bigger issue for everyone in America today: gays or racism?", which is shortly followed by Sean Penn in Milk (because let's give the gays the voice that they complained about losing to Crash).

This year, without any intended denigration to the people who do this in real life, it had to be The Hurt Locker for that same reason. Racism is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Crash. Homophobia is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Milk. Feminism isn't where we thought it should be, so here's an Oscar for Kathryn Bigelow. Our president is promising to bring the troops home, but we need a reminder, so here's an Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

So if it's really about what movie is the "best," or what performance is the "best"... well, let's face it. It's not about which is the best. It's about which is best *for that year*, and *under those political circumstances*.

And if you don't agree? You can cool it and make your own awards ceremony.

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