Issues with the Oscars

Now for some general issues I have every year the Oscars come around.

The Academy Awards do not exist for your personal television amusement.

It’s not the Ice Capades, it’s not Barnum & Bailey’s, it’s not Fear Factor. It’s a presentation of the highest honor the film industry has to offer to its members, and for the nominees, all of the nominees, it’s a moment that they will never forget. I have no patience whatsoever for the whining that comes along every year from publications like TV Guide who don’t like having to sit through awards for art directors and cinematographers. I love the Academy Awards because they put the special effects artists on the same stage with Kirsten Dunst and say “These people are just as important to the industry as the actors. In fact, more important.” If honoring WETA for their incredible accomplishments on the Lord of the Rings trilogy takes too much time out of your evening when you could be watching some little fly-by-night starlet talk about her diamonds on the red carpet, take a bathroom break.

“Why do we have to have an animated feature category? My favorite animated movie should be up for Best Picture.”

Animators who say this make me want to kick them. Was your head in the sand from 1939 until yesterday? Let me explain this very slowly. Hollywood is full of shallow people who are easily threatened. Giving the Best Picture to an animated movie makes it seem like actors are not really necessary to make a good film. This is the same reason the campaign to nominate Andy Serkis for Gollum was a waste of money. Yes Beauty and the Beast managed a nomination one year but it didn’t have a ghost of a chance of winning (for that matter, neither did Ghost). Incredible animated films were left out to dry by the Academy for 70 years. Shut up and be thankful for this category, you would never have seen Ralph Eggleston or Brad Bird get their due without it. Now if the presenters would stop tirelessly linking it with voice acting…

People who don’t understand the process.

I’m hoping Chris Rock was just trying to be funny and wasn’t actually clueless enough to think that the Academy was making a conservative statement by not nominating Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911. Moore cut himself out of the race deliberately. He knew that he was a shoe-in for Best Documentary, and he was, but another Oscar in that category wasn’t enough for Moore. He was after the big prize, the Best Picture award and maybe Best Director. In Moore’s own words:

Academy rules forbid the airing of a documentary on television within nine months of its theatrical release (fiction films do not have the same restriction).

Read his statement, but don’t believe him for a minute when he says that his decision to air the movie was based on a desire to reach more people. He promoted heavily for his film to win a nomination, but it didn’t quite work out. Why? Well, for the same reason why we have an animated feature category: no one wants to put their creative work up against something made with no actors. And “Fahrenheit” wasn’t made that well, even at the standards of a Moore film. Give a documentary the big honor over Eastwood and Scorsese? Even Hollywood isn’t ready for that.

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