I’ve thought long and hard about the Academy Award nominations that came out this morning, and here’s what I’ve concluded: I saw nowhere near enough films this past year. Sure, I probably saw most of the nominees, and there were some that I purposely avoided, but it still simply wasn’t enough. I can admit that, I’m a big enough person.
Can I ask — and I know that I’m not the only one who wants to know this — why must the vast majority of these films come out at the end of the year? Is the assumption that voters are truly too stupid to remember in January and February a great movie that they saw the previous summer? Really? And, let’s face it, if the movie was truly a great movie and stood out, it should be memorable eight months later. It should actually be memorable eight years later, and hopefully 80 years later, too. If it’s something that you’re going to shudder thinking about ten years down the line then it didn’t deserve to be nominated to begin with, did it?
I’m not going to do anything as trite as to recommend an overhaul of the way movies are nominated and then selected as a winner, but that doesn’t mean that the process is without problems either. A recent opinion piece in Entertainment Weekly lamented the fact that the Academy Awards occur earlier in the year than they used to, and suggested that it was possible that voters wouldn’t vote for the best pictures, because they simply wouldn’t have time to see them all. It went on to suggest that it is entirely possible that voters wouldn’t bother with longer films like The Good Shepherd at all simply due to the time crunch.
Wow. Those people shouldn’t be voting then, should they? And, again, maybe if the “best” movies were released throughout the year rather than just at the end of it, everyone involved would have more of a chance to see them. I know, that’s probably sacrilege, but just because it’s sacrilegious doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
Mark Harris, who wrote that Entertainment Weekly opinion piece, argues in a follow-up that one of the reasons the best movies will continue to bow at the end of the year, despite the shortened campaign season, is because the studios are able to make money with them that way. Right. Good movies can only succeed at the end of the year and blockbusters can only succeed over the summer and around the holidays. That doesn’t sound likely. Sure, he goes through several nominated films that didn’t generate big numbers that were released at non-traditional times for such fare, but ignores others such as Little Miss Sunshine.
But let’s leave that aside for the moment and head to other thoughts. To top it off, I’m not at all sure that it’s right to say that Dreamgirls got “snubbed” — eight nominations is pretty good. I’m also not sure that it’s right to suggest that it’s wrong for the movie to have the most nominations and yet not get a Best Picture nomination. There is of course the fact that three of its noms were for Best Song, which probably indicates that the music is great, but not necessarily that the film is great. Additionally, couldn’t we be dealing with a situation here in which the parts are better than the whole? I’m neither defending the Academy’s decisions nor vilifying them, just pondering.
That’s right, they call me the ponderer, yeah the ponderer. I ponder around, around, around…