For 51 weeks of the year I place little value in the Oscars, or any other film awards ceremony. Over the last ten or so years I’ve seen the little bland statues handed out on what is clearly popular or political motivations and have subsequently lost what little faith I held in such accolades.
However, this is never enough to stop me from being caught in the whirlwind leading up to the night of nights for the film industry. Reading the list of nominees will guarantee a source of heated debate between film fans and critics. It provides a renewed license to stand toe-to-toe to discuss the merit of nominations and ultimately creates what is affectionately known as the Oscar buzz.
It’s a phenomenon that’s hard to resist it. Film has become a pivotal part of our society, providing us with insights into the imagination of creative minds from across the globe. We develop an affiliation with particular directors, actors, genres, and film studios and will hotly contest anyone who opposes.
Yet, even after all the excitement of the Oscars, the actual event usually proves to be an anti-climax for me. I’m often disappointed with the results, the ceremony is painfully long, I’m constantly reminded of films and talent that have been completely overlooked, and there’s always an actor or actress who’s nomination is questionable (sorry Nicole Kidman, I’m looking at you). At the conclusion of the evening I often take away more negatives than positives. However, this year I have a feeling of strange contentment.
The positives carry a wonderful value for those lucky enough to be touched by the Oscars. A nomination for a relatively unknown actor or film maker is a true blessing. When those nominations are bestowed upon Australians, I can’t help but wave a little Aussie flag and cheer. Seeing local illustrator, Shaun Tan, honoured with such high praise serves as a reminder of how the Oscars can shape the film industry for the better and isn’t an exclusive club for those with budgets large enough to solve world hunger. A nomination for Jacki Weaver has also opened the floodgates of job offers where she was previously largely unknown, even in her home country.
One element of the Oscars I find particularly fascinating is the Academy’s embrace of both tradition and 21st century trends. This was particularly evident in the choice of hosts this year. James Franco and Anne Hathaway provide examples of the fresh, young talent in Hollywood offering a brand of humour and entertainment designed to draw in enthusiasm from a younger audience. That is, those of us who don’t remember when it was impossible to even entertain the thought of anyone other than Bob Hope as host. Franco and Hathaway did a fine job with the difficult roles they were given and have contributed to, as Franco said in opening the ceremony, “bridge the gap between the older generation and the newer, younger generation”.
This year’s nominees for best picture illustrates the value of all schools of film. While The King’s Speech took the award seemingly holding the mantle squarely in tradition’s corner, a glance over the rest of the nominees provides us with a unique insight into the state of film today. The Social Network crushed any expectations of a B-grade production upon the announcement of “a movie about Facebook”, True Grit shows us westerns are far from dead and look better than ever, Toy Story 3 broke some very stubborn barriers for animated features, Inception saw a science-fiction feature slide into the category, and Black Swan shows us your messed up story can produce a memorable film experience. While I personally haven’t seen all the nominated films (yet), it’s difficult to argue that any of them don’t deserve their place. My pick for the gong was True Grit, but I may just lay down my sword once I see The King’s Speech.
While I’m quite satisfied with the result of best picture, actor and actress, I must confess to a little hulk moment for both supporting awards. Not necessarily because the winners didn’t deserve their golden men, but purely because I have an old love affair with Geoffrey Rush and a new one with both Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver.
The Oscars is a strange beast. It’s a dirty machine of self promotion and media hype that never fails to make us believe this year is going to be something special. While it still has an uncanny knack of boring us to tears, I felt satisfied the major gongs have not gone to waste. Congratulations to all the winners, especially to Natalie Portman, Colin Firth and all involved in Black Swan and The King’s Speech. Mr Darcy certainly has come a long way.
Nice write up. for me True Grit and Inception were my films of the year, but I can see why they didn’t win any of the major gongs. The Kings Speech and Black Swan were both excellent movies but were not quite my cup of tea.
Almost my thoughts exactly. I certainly wish I’d seen more of the nominated films though. I will have to make time to see more next time. It would definitely would have made the viewing experience more enjoyable.
I’m still not sure about Franco and Hathaway hosting. I don’t think it was there fault, but I think the hosting job needs a certain ability to quip, which i felt these two just didn’t have. I can see what they where attempting to do, and I like the effort, but just felt it didn’t quite work. Bring on Kevin Spacey or Sandra Bullock as hosts next year!