It is awards season. I usually don’t pay much attention to the various award shows. The Golden Globes are often fun to watch but I have never watched an entire broadcast of any other show except The Oscars.
For those who don’t know, I am a film buff who ran away from home to Hollywood as a teenager with the hopes of becoming a film director. I spent 2 years in L.A. and managed to direct a music video for Latin MTV before coming to the painful conclusion that I was better at watching movies than I would be at making them. I left Hollywood in the rear view of my Chevy Blazer but I remained fascinated with film and continued to watch the Oscars every year.
I don’t however watch the Academy Awards uncritically. I have often been flabbergasted by the films and performances not nominated or those that failed to take home a well-earned trophy. Take a look at the list below and make a mental note as to the better film:
The Dark Knight or Slumdog Millionaire?
The English Patient or Fargo?
Dancing with Wolves or Goodfellas?
Raging Bull or Ordinary People?
Kramer vs. Kramer or Apocalypse Now?
The Oscars for Best Picture went to Slumdog Millionaire (The Dark Knight was not even nominated), The English Patient beat Fargo, Ordinary People beat Raging Bull and Kramer vs. Kramer beat Apocalypse Now. Inexplicable! And I could go on and on. How is it that Heat was not even nominated for heaven’s sake!?!
The Academy did it again this year by failing to nominate the phenomenal Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Drive but giving nods to the mediocre War Horse and the insipid Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
The 5783 members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote on the nominations. Most of the members are former nominees although a few dignitaries have been quietly included by secret ballot nominations. My former bosses, songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, were voting members when I worked for them (Jerry even let me fill out his ballot for 1990. I placed Goodfellas in the #1 spot). At the time, I didn’t think much of the membership requirements but given their repeated flubs I think the Academy needs to consider welcoming certain critics and even a weighted portion by popular vote. After all, the Academy has many sins to atone for and, like individual sinners, I don’t think the Academy is capable of saving itself.