Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Oscars Are Not A Popularity Contest

Ahhh, the Oscars. It seems like once the nominees are announced, the complaints start.

"I've never heard of most/any of these movies!"

"Why don't they ever nominate movies people actually watch?"

If you find yourself saying this, ponder the following question: how much do you know about the Nobel Prize, or Pulitzer Prize? Probably no more than I do, which is virtually nothing.

Here's the deal: the Oscars are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In essence, this means that the Oscars are for achievements in exactly that: motion picture arts and sciences. The Oscars are NOT a popularity contest the way the People's Choice Awards and MTV Movie Awards are. If all you want from your movies is entertainment, stick with those awards shows.

Now, yes, it is true that popular movies are also sometimes nominated for Oscars. "Titanic" is a good example of that, so are "Avatar" and "Star Wars: Episode IV." Unfortunately this seems to lead people to believe that other movies they like should have been nominated, like "40 Year Old Virgin" or "Letters From Juliet." There's nothing wrong with these movies, they just don't have the kind superior achievents in artistic and/or scientific fields that the Academy is going to honor as being outstanding.

Oh, I can hear it now: "Scientific? In movies?"

Uh, YES. Do you like 3D movies? Cool special effects? Digital sound? CG so good that it looks like real life? Those are all scientific applications in the movie business, and they deserve recognition.
They are the backbone of the film industry.

"Artistic?"

Of course! Not in just the obvious ways, either. Screenplays require extensive work to produce a memorable and well-executed story. Editors spend endless hours piecing different shots together to create just the right effect.

I like my movies to be entertaining, but I also like them to be of high quality film-making in every aspect. I like them to make me think. I like them to inspire me, and I'm sorry, but movies like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" don't.

I have nothing against people who just want their movies to be entertaining. There are plenty of that kind of movie out there. Just please do me the courtesy of not complaining about your cookie-cutter movie not getting nominated for an Oscar when you are a "People's Choice" kind of person anyway.

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