Talking Movies

February 23, 2013

Oscar Schmoscar: Part IV

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 5:38 pm

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The annual parade of pomposity and razzmatazz known as the Academy Awards lurches around yet a-bloody-gain this Sunday, so here’s a deflating reminder of its awful track record.
 
Ben Affleck is not nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for Argo, but has already won both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for Directing. But the Academy knows best, right? I mean it’s not like the Directors’ Guild of America plumped for Affleck for Argo and a bunch of costume designers, sound editors and VFX computer jockeys decided Affleck wasn’t really a director of the highest calibre, right? Well, actually the DGA did plump for Affleck, so, yes; it has happened that a bunch of people who don’t direct think they know better than the actual directors what directing is all about. But Affleck really shouldn’t feel bad about being snubbed. The list of directors that the Academy thought didn’t cut the mustard is really quite impressive, you’d almost want to join it; including as it does Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Stanley Kubrick, Howard Hawks and Orson Welles.
 
The Academy doesn’t acknowledge the best films made during a year. It acknowledges the films that conducted the best campaign to be acknowledged. It’s infuriating to make lists on December 31st of the best films released during the year, as experienced by Irish cinema audiences, in the knowledge that the Oscar movies will arrive over the next two months; because they’ve been held back in America to crash into the consciousness of the amnesiacs who make up the Academy, and get maximum traction in the race for nominations – many of which are crucial to the marketing of these films, because these are not films that anyone will want to go see unless they have Oscar nominations attached. Which should be a clear signal to the makers: if your film will fail to sound good to audiences unless it gets nominations thru relentless pseudo-political campaigning then it probably isn’t any good.
 
We shouldn’t let it be thought that the Academy are competent to judge excellence in any category when they’re capable of judging the lazy The Descendants to be a better adapted screenplay than the sublime Submarine. This event needs to be denied the oxygen of publicity, without which it would surely shrivel down to a size more commensurate with its questionable judgement. That’s why every year this blog will never speculate breathlessly about the nominations before they’re made, comment seriously on them after they’re made, or make obsequious acknowledgement of the winners. When the Oscars are worthy of coverage, I will cover them. I look forward to the day when blockbusters, comedies, small dramas, and epic dramas that have been released throughout a year and not merely in the last three weeks of December in small theatres in Los Angeles jostle for deserved recognition. But I don’t hold my breath.
 
If you love films, you’re almost duty bound at this point to revile the Oscars.

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