Oscar is the buzzword in Hollywood right now. You can’t go a day without a major publication running a story on how one film or another’s Oscar chances stand-up. I’m guilty myself, having written a series of articles updating my own predictions. Once September hits any movie conversation will inevitable lead to this, and there’s nowhere you can go to escape it.
Much like the incessant and irrelevant coverage of the still three years away 2016 presidential election by CNN, MSNBC and Fox, the Oscars are now something that is brought not only in the fall, but at any time of the year -- in some cases mere days after the previous year’s ceremony wraps. Many have claimed in the past that the Academy Awards are political, but now it seems, they are Hollywood’s own version of politics.
A film’s every move is intensely analyzed from the first stills to its finale box-office tally. There are ‘For Your Consideration’ ads and parties thrown by publicists hired specifically to push a film’s awards agenda. Sometimes even smear campaigns are launched. All of it boils down to the final weeks of the season, were more often than not, things are narrowed down to two films truly vying for best picture.
You know what, that’s what actually makes it kind of fun. Rather than real politics, we get to play this game of what film will be able to nab people’s votes and why and it has no actual effect on anything. At the end of it all we label a film ‘the best of the year,’ and it’s a nice adjective to have for filmmakers and provides them with more opportunities to do interesting work, but outside of that the title means nothing.
Look back over the last five best picture winners. Out of all of them, how many times has your favorite actually won best picture? Not that much probably. The actual quality of a best picture winner is irrelevant; much like a candidate for president, it is the little things beyond their actual platform that lift them up or bring them down. Critics were less than thrilled with “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “War Horse” but they had the credentials of Oscar films, so they got nominated.
That’s why critics, and now even filmmakers, will make their own end of the year top ten lists. They know most of the time their number one won’t play for best picture, but they get on the soap-box for a minute and say why they think it should have been, then go back to figuring out who the Academy will label year’s best. But even knowing this, people still get into heated debates about who will win or who should win.
The Oscars can be infuriating, uninspiring, and seemingly never ending. There can be so much that happens that eventually leads to a result we figured on three months earlier. They proclaim their presence with pomp and circumstance only to be old news less than a week after they’re over. It’s politics, but surprisingly fun, and the 2013 edition is already well under way.