Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Oscars; or, How to Buy a Statue

The Oscars are upon us once again, and of course the story this year is the broadened Best Picture category with ten nominees. Ostensibly an attempt to let audience favorites have a go alongside fiscally microscopic films like An Education, this means Avatar or District 9 could feasibly take home a statue. What this really means is Avatar will have justified its Bolivian GDP of a budget when it inevitably wins Best Picture.

The awards have little to do with artistic merit anyway. Just like the congressional candidate with the best ideas doesn't necessarily get elected, the "best" actor (whatever that means) doesn't always win the award. It's the person with the best studio campaign behind them. Of course, campaign in the wrong way, or make it too obvious that you're campaigning *ahem Mr. Hurt Locker producer* and you shoot your team in the collective foot.

I've gotta say, I'm a bit worried here. I see this as the beginning of a trend in which the year's top grosser predictably wins Best Picture, which not only takes the fun out of it but means a lot of really shitty movies will win. This all comes a year too late anyway, since Dark Knight is one of the few top earners I could imagine legitimately earning the award. Do you really want Transformers 8 to be in the running in 2023? Do you want Michael Bay to ever be nominated?

And all this is being done to get more people to watch the broadcast. This logic escapes me, because no one watches the show for the awards anyway. The majority watch for the red carpet hoohah and to see if anyone screws up their speech. You don't see after-shows of film buffs analyzing who won and why; you see E! breaking down every single outfit caught on film, and who Angelina Jolie managed to have an awkward encounter with this year (I'm looking at you, Christopher Minz-Plasse).

I say, stop broadcasting it altogether. The awards have nothing to do with us at home. They're about the honorees. If you're not in that theatre, you're not affected. So let them have their moments, and as a replacement we can just have a red carpet parade. Stars make a two-hour trek down the carpet from one limo to another in a constant cycle. Put them on display. Ask them awkward questions. E! correspondents act like they're pals with them. Then they go home.

How absurd is it to rank art in the first place? You don't see awards for "Best Oil on Canvas of the Year," or "Best Bronze Sculpture." Could you imagine? "This year's Achievement in Pretension goes to Gabriel Orozco, for his 'Four Yogurt Caps on the Walls' exhibit." Which by the way, fuck you Mr. Orozco.

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