Uncle Oscar Stoops to Conquer

Hi world, I’m C and it’s my turn to post.  Like M, I had something else I planned to talk about, but the news has preempted me.

Now, E is the big Oscar Fangirl, but no one interested in the entertainment industry could help having an opinion on the biggest news in Oscar history, since… well, probably ever: Number of Best Picture Nominees Goes From 5 to 10.

My opinion?  Shameless, tacky ratings-pandering.

There was a time in history when the Academy Awards were given to great movies, whether they were comedies or tragedies, popular hits or lesser-known artistic triumphs.  In 1934, It Happened One Night (a family favorite, btw) won the awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Picture.

It Happened One Night is a romantic comedy.  When’s the last time you saw one of those win an Oscar?

Today, instead of awarding movies people like and have actually seen, four times out of five the Oscars celebrate small, depressing art house films which only people like E go to see (and she only sees them because they’re nominated for Oscars).  Even when a heartwarming film that people really love wins or is nominated, it’s usually 1) dark, and 2) relatively obscure.  Think Slumdog Millionaire or Little Miss Sunshine: these films may be lovely, but they’re not for everyone.  And that’s what the Oscars are determined to be: NOT FOR EVERYONE.

Which is why this new move is so low.  Why nominate ten films?  So people will watch the show, of course.  Because you know how it will be.  There will be the five real nominations, and then there will be the five crowd-drawing nominations.  Star Trek will probably be nominated.  Sorry, Virginia: Star Trek will not win.

But I bet the fankids won’t feel so sure about that.  They’ll tune in because, supposedly, there’s a chance.

Now maybe you’re saying “What about Return of the King?”  But it took a juggernaut of three groundbreaking, remarkable blockbuster fantasy hits before the Academy condescended to honor one.  And did they get any acting awards?  Of course not.  Benjamin Button is acting.  Fantasy is not acting.

Maybe I sound bitter.  Maybe I am, a bit.  I’m sick of the attitude that because something is popular, funny, belongs to one of those things called “genres,” or God forbid, appeals to more women than men, it’s automatically lesser quality.  The Academy are the people who relegated animated films to a ghetto category after their elitist world was shaken by Beauty and the Beast being nominated for Best Picture.  They couldn’t risk that happening again!

And now they’re going to nominate Star Trek to get you to watch the show.  How will they live with themselves?

Oh right.  By only giving AWARDS to films that make you want to put your head under a blanket and cry.

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7 comments on “Uncle Oscar Stoops to Conquer

  1. E says:

    Um, chickie, I hate to break it to you, but Benjamin Button IS fantasy.

    On the other hand, I doubt that the Academy would admit that, either. It’s elitist fantasy. And it’s a truly great movie. It should have received more acting nominations than it got, even. Not that this negates your point about ROTK. That still rankles.

    You know what I would have liked to have seen on Oscar’s shortlist? Spiderman. But honestly, I don’t think even with 10 slots, it would have gotten in, despite being one of the best reviewed movies of it’s year, and one of the biggest money makers of all time.

    • C says:

      I just replied below. I’m not sure I hit the right button since I don’t seem to have actually “replied” to your comment.

  2. C says:

    It is NOT fantasy, it’s “magic realism.” Which is much more okay with the elitists. But you’re right in that I should probably have said “high fantasy.”

    Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Iron Man – in my opinion those were all nomination-deserving movies, in that they transcended the cliches of the summer blockbuster and were polished, thoughtful, clever, surprising, and hugely entertaining. I don’t, for instance, see where an Academy that lauded Titanic so lavishly has a leg to stand on in not honoring movies like those.

    • E says:

      You are completely right. Well, except about “magic realism”. “Magic realism” is just an elitist/academic term for fantasy which aims to make it palatable. What’s the difference, for example, between urban fantasy and magic realism in principle? So little as to be insignificant to all purposes except that of assuaging the pride of those who think themselves above fantasy. I stand my ground.

      • C says:

        I used that term advisedly – BB is trying to be the elitist kind of fantasy that people who look down on fantasy enjoy. That’s not a criticism of the movie (which I haven’t seen and know you love) it’s a comment on the marketing choices made regarding it.

        Technically urban fantasy and magic realism are about the same (except urban fantasy tends to feature a lot of Faery Courts for whatever reason), but you must agree the way they’re packaged – and the intended market – is different.

      • C says:

        Okay, the more I think about it the more I must own I do think of those terms as connoting different things.

        Urban Fantasy: high fantasy transposed into contemporary city settings. Often influenced by European tales and legends. Examples: Dresden Files, Cassandra Clare, that Charles de Lint book we both read.

        Magic Realism: modern, often small town setting where scientific laws apply except for one or two unexplained exceptions. Pioneered by South American and ethnic American writers. Often whimsical. Examples: Benjamin Button, Pushing Daisies.

        I will agree that the line is frequently blurred, though.

      • E says:

        I’m not sure if I’ll be replying to your reply – but, here goes.

        When I said “in principle”, what I meant was that while there IS a distinct difference between the way magical elements impact the modern world in Urban Fantasy and in Magic Realism, that’s not a sufficient enough distinction to render one contemptible and the other a marvel. I meant that a distinction for those who think they’re above fantasy but can admit that they like a good story when they’ll deign to watch it. Which is to say, anything that doesn’t include elves. People breaking the laws of physics or raising the dead, now that’s okay, but throw in a wizard? Beyond the pale. And I think that’s a specious distinction;I mean, you could call Ned the Piemaker a wizard or a superhero and you wouldn’t be wrong. You’d just get a certain type of prejudiced person to stop watching if you did.

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