Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why We Should Lighten Up on The Oscars.


We have plenty of time to be cynical about any number of things in this world.  Society as a whole has grown skeptical, paranoid, and suspect of just about everything these days, and the Academy Awards have suffered from the shift.  So many things trump The Oscars in this world of overt cynicism, but for the purposes of this piece let's look at the Granddaddy of awards season.

It's all political now.  The Academy is afraid of certain films.  These movies are boring and the Oscars are boring.  The divide between society and the Academy is a gulf.  The awards don't matter.  These are all arguments against the importance, or the relevance, of the Academy Awards.  In this age of judge, jury, and executioner at the tip of everyone's opinionated fingertips, films and filmmaking have taken on something entirely different from even five years ago.  With this new instant-gratification media - most of which I celebrate as an effective means of news and debate - negative vibes are much easier to push on the collective thought process.  No longer is it glitz and glamour, but mocking and sarcasm and waiting for someone somewhere to slip up.  Let the night be what it is meant to be, a celebration of an art.

I say lighten up.  For twenty plus years now I have been in front of my TV tuning in to the Oscars.  Surely as a ten-year old it seemed strange to my parents, but they obliged when I wanted to see as many of the movies as I was allowed and pay close attention to who won what.  Oscar Night is a big deal for me, not because of the fashion or the celebrity red carpet, but because it is an annual celebration of the medium I love more than any other artistic outlet.  Film is an important thing in my life for reasons I have never been able to eloquently explain.  And I see the Oscars in a more positive light than most people.  Not because I buy every Oscar win and succumb to the film as the greatest of the year, but because I enjoy the finality, the closure of another year of film.

There is a slim chance my favorite film from 2012, Silver Linings Playbook (an unpopular fave I am gathering), will not win Best Picture.  Does that mean I have to stop calling it my favorite of the year?  Hardly.  There were great films like Looper, Killer Joe, Skyfall, and summer films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers which aren't big players on Oscar night, and that sometimes turns people away.  I like all of the aforementioned films, some are great, and the fact they aren't nominated for much, if at all, is okay with me.  It doesn't deter me from seeing who wins out of who wasn't snubbed.  Storylines always abound at The Oscars, as predictions and snubs and surprises almost always snag some category along the way.  There is something for you to like.

That might be an unpopular opinion, but there is something for everyone out there most years.  Think about it, of the nine films nominated there is more than likely one most people have seen.  It cuts a wide cross section with history, fantasy, drama and suspense.  I don't think it's possible for a person to dislike all of the nine nominated films, and if they do then The Oscars aren't for them anyway.  The snide remarks about The Oscars feel misdirected or unnecessary for a show that s merely a salute to filmmaking in general.  True, the Awards themselves may not matter to us, to you, but to the actors and writers and producers and technicians they mean they have succeeded.  These are the awards we all get at our own jobs for various achievements, only Hollywood's work exists in a public forum.

If you don't like The Oscars for these reasons, then maybe you shouldn't watch.  I say go in with an open mind and a positive outlook.  Don't allow the sarcasm or cynicism invade into your enjoyment.  I am not particularly pleased with each and every nominee, there are snubs all over the map, but that is part of the strategic inner workings of The Oscars as a whole.  Surprises aren't always there either, but the possibility of a surprise exists and propels the drama of the awards themselves.  I have always enjoyed The Oscars and to be honest very little of my personal film preference has shifted because of them over the years.  Lincoln wins Best Picture?  Not my favorite, but I understand, because it is a technical and historical masterpiece.  This is the point, to let The Oscars happen, absorb the year-end wrap up, and go into the proceedings with the mindset of someone who loves films and enjoys looking back at many of the great films of the past year.