That’s right. I’m unofficially boycotting it. When it comes on TV, I’m gonna change the channel. Maybe watch Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). Or a cooking show. Just not the annual debacle that is the Oscars.
Why am I so adamant? Well, I’ll tell ya. This perspective only comes after years of viewing the event on the telly and disagreeing with the choices—as well as suffering through the interminable tributes and musical numbers, which only served to extend the show’s already inordinate length. Does anyone remember the Paula Abdul-choreographed dance spectacle “inspired by” The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)? Where gaily dressed performers ended up in some kind of pile onstage? Hm? That’s the kind of quality I’m talking about. Junk masquerading as entertainment. And I’m not about to succumb to that trap.
OK, I admit these are just minor points when compared to the real reason why I’ve been frustrated with the Oscars. That has to do with the poor selections that voters have registered over the years, ranging from Gone with the Wind (1939) to Moulin Rouge! (2001) and beyond. I’ve come to recognise that winning an Academy Award is not necessarily a measure of good taste. It’s frequently an instrument of politics, in part determined by who’s done what in the past and whether they’ve said and done the right things. Masterpieces frequently are overlooked. I mean, c’mon. Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1985) won its sole Oscar for Best Costume Design. What gives, huh?
Yes, I’m a little bitter. Guess I’m still stewing over the fact that Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) lost out for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year to The Lives of Others (2006). It’s hard to get over that type of thing. I’m trying, believe me.
The important thing to think about, for me, is that an awards ceremony should not be a determinant of quality in the cinematic world. Not that it’s always a sign of garbage, mind you. But that a win or a loss isn’t necessarily an indication of a film’s true worth. Plenty of great actors and actresses haven’t won Oscars for their performances. Lots of great movies haven’t landed the fabled statuettes, either. Does that make them any less valuable? Should we enjoy them not as much?
I don’t think so. I’m still going to rate Seven Samurai (1954) over most movies that have breezed through the Academy Awards, even though this wondrous Kurosawa flick hasn’t an Oscar on the shelf. And I’ll continue to be plenty pleased with Philippe de Broca’s That Man From Rio (1964), though the Academy passed it by, too. The lack of this honour doesn’t lessen my appreciation of these pictures. In fact, it doesn’t affect that factor in any way. I remain a fan of these movies. And I know I’m not alone.
Does that mean we should discount the Oscars altogether? Frankly, I don’t think so. It’s quite a marketing scheme, and films that land the hallowed golden idol often find it a boon when it comes to adding days to their theatrical lifespans. It’s a widely viewed spectacle and offers solid publicity to the movies and players mentioned on it.
I just think there are so many more that go unmentioned, and although I realise you can’t broadcast everyone in one program, so much is left by the wayside that it has become irrelevant for me.
So I’m going to watch something else next year when the Academy Awards make their small-screen appearance. Perhaps it will be that Star Trek marathon, if it’s on. Maybe I’ll find something else—a good, unheralded film, for example. I think watching something like that would be a nice way to give myself the feeling that I really am making a difference, despite the fact that I’ll be a very tiny statistic in the Oscars’ ratings results. It’ll be a private statement, for sure, but a meaningful one. Plus, it’ll involve a bonus: I’ll be able to go to bed without wondering how long it’ll take for the Best Picture to be announced. That can’t be a bad thing, right?
Let the Oscars be your movie guide? Nah. I’m letting my own feelings do that now. And I’m really happy about it, too.