Well, Oscar has come and gone, and with his naked goldenness, another movie season is setting into the snarky sunset. It was a weird year, one were no single title dominated. In fact, both the competing awards shows and the Academy seemed ready to rewrite history as one acknowledged winners that the other could be bothered to even nominate, and visa versa. With Argo walking away with the top honors, in spite of such equally impressive works as The Master and Holy Motors, one can argue that the voting membership is still locked in safe, commercial mode. Even the snubs seem set up to send a particular message, one that tempts fate by suggesting that even the most rock solid lock of a pick - in this case, Ben Affleck as director - is far from a given.
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Like the proverbial bar bet where everyone believes they’re right, pointing to Oscar and acknowledging the many missteps in reward judgment they’ve made is an exercise in communal commentary. For all the times AMPAS shows drive and determination, they more often than not resort to politics, pandering, and the lure of overpowering publicity. And then there are those cases were personal preference, not universal aesthetics, lead to isolated and individualized criticism. Again recognizing that the voting membership is comprised of all previous nominees, along with occasional invited inductees, the insular nature of the beast is pretty darn obvious. But as was pointed out in a previous article on the subject, some mistakes just seem egregious in nature.
We critics love to give Oscar the razz. After all, they get it wrong so many times that, inherently, we view it as an out of touch, deeply political body whose process allows art to die at the hands of studio artifice. Recognizing that the voting membership is comprised of all previous nominees, along with occasional invited inductees, the insular nature of the beast is pretty darn obvious. But there are other instances where the Academy bungles its business so badly that you have to wonder if senility hasn’t set in, a kind of all encompassing lunacy that adversely affects the aesthetic of the constituency. It’s the bungles that burn our biscuits the most, slights and celebrations that mock the very nature of film.
It stinks. It hurts. I may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but it’s also been known to cause a burning, itching in the heart. We’re talking about love, that most meaningful (and often meaningless) of emotions, that ambiguous and vague feeling of fondness that, like the Supreme Court and pornography, is often hard to define but easy to spot once it’s present. A lot is made out of love. There are sonnets and songs, poems, prayers, and promises. We often wonder what we’d do for it, why we can’t find it, and when we do, why it fades and then floats away. Perhaps love isn’t really that great after all. It does drive humans to distraction - and disaster. It also becomes a beacon for those without it, a holy grail perched on top of Mt. Everest that no one, including the lost and/or lonely, can ever hope to uncover.
A couple of weeks back, we acknowledged the wealth of rock documentaries out in the cinematic marketplace, even claiming that at least ten (and there will be more in the near future) warrant consideration as some of the artform’s best. We felt confident we’d made some wise choices, set up the parameters to excuse the lack of performance-oriented efforts, and expressed our desire to match director’s intent with final product. And what did we get for our attempt? What happened when we unleashed our chosen few onto the Messageboard masses? Well, let’s just say that there was an equal balance between favorable responses and those who saw fit to point out our personal (and professional) flaws, selection wise. In essence, we were idiots.
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