I hate to say it. I just don’t think I’m going to like the Academy Awards ceremony this year. Of course, I could be pleasantly surprised. I think it will be an entertaining show, and I think Seth MacFarlane is a consummate showman. But, the Academy has made some boneheaded decisions that I think will do the show a disservice. This is coming from someone who honors Oscar night as his favorite “holiday” and makes the show a special occasion every year.
In terms of the nominated films, I think this is an excellent bunch, and certainly one of the most commercially friendly lineups in years. I don’t really think there’s a bad apple among the whole bunch. I do, however, think the bunch is incomplete. Why are there only nine nominated films, when the Academy can pick ten? Were there really only nine films deserving the honor? I think back to the reason the Academy expanded the Best Picture category to ten in the first place. Wasn’t it to get more ratings by giving more popular films a chance and thereby boost ratings? Okay. So where is “The Avengers,” or “The Dark Knight Rises,” or even “Moonrise Kingdom”? What about the brilliant time-bending sci-fi actioner “Looper”? These films don’t have to win; heck, no one would expect them to. But it might get people watching, and inject a much-needed mass-market energy into the often rather dour proceedings. And how do you explain top 10 beneficiaries from past years such as “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” or “The Blind Side”? There were better films than those released this year that could have easily filled that tenth spot.
Then, of course, there are the snubs. I won’t complain so much about Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director snub, but no Ben Affleck for “Argo”? That excellent film has been sweeping awards circuits left and right, and Affleck should have a shelf dusted off for his potential win. At the very least, he should be able to ride his awards train through to the big night. But, he can’t. For him, the journey is essentially over, although some have suggested an unorthodox write-in vote that doesn’t seem likely. I don’t think the Oscars should automatically hope on the awards bandwagon and praise a film just because everyone else is. And, certainly, his film has a great chance at taking home the big prize, but I feel like this is Affleck’s moment, and he deserved a nod at the very least.
There are always spirited debates surrounding the Oscars and whether the films in question deserved or didn’t deserve certain awards and nominations. I have taken part in some of these debates and think they’re healthy and productive. But, they’re always based in the opinions and tastes of those involved. But, the Academy’s decision to not include the full ten films in the Best Picture category in particular is confusing by any objective standards. If the Oscars are there to celebrate films, why not celebrate the largest amount of deserving films possible? The nominations shouldn’t be exclusive by default; and I can guarantee there were more than nine great films released this year.
And so, I shall begrudgingly watch the telecast (not live, unfortunately, work is getting in the way), and hope that the Academy loves movies as much as I do. As of now, their exclusionary policy does not have me convinced.