Bias, Spite And Agendas: So Much For The Best Picture Oscar Having Anything To Do With Picking The Best Picture

Apparently Queen Anne was not sufficiently woke.

For the first time in a decade, I may be tempted to watch the Academy Awards broadcast this year just to witness the certain fiasco in store. After severing its bond of good faith with half of America by going full “resistance” the last two years, and alienating another large chunk with #MeToo posturing and hypocrisy, then capitulating to affirmative action cant by seeking “diversity” in its designations of excellence, the once-popular national celebration of the American institution of Hollywood is unraveling in rancor and political correctness. This year it will have no host, because no one is willing to suffer the Hader gotchas and social media bullying that such a role will now necessarily entail. The Academy has split its membership with the decision to relegate the less glamorous awards to commercial breaks this year—less glamorous, perhaps, but in essential areas like film editing and cinematography. Actor Seth Rogen summed up the logic of this decision neatly by tweeting, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people whose job it is to literally film things.”

Then again, why pay any attention to awards that are decided with logic and reasoning like those exposed by the New York Times’ recent anonymous chat with 20 Oscar voters? Any illusions that actual merit and excellence drives Oscar honors were shattered by admissions like these…

  • Several voters said that they were inclined not to vote for “Black Panther” for Best Picture  because it was made by Disney-owned Marvel. Disney films have dominated the box office in recent years.

“And now we’re also supposed to give Disney the Oscar for best picture?” one voter from a rival studio told the Times.

  • Spike Lee is nominated for directing “BlacKkKlansman,” and the habitual race-baiting director’s film is not generally regarded as an Oscar frontrunner. Some voters told the Times they were tempted to vote for Lee anyway because they felt his acceptance speech would be great theater.

    Imagine voting an award based on who will give the best acceptance speech.

  • The Queen biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is a controversial nomination in part because it was directed by Bryan Singer, who was accused of sex with underage boys in a recent article in The Atlantic.  In this case, the voters have their ethical priorities straight and it is the Times film critic, Brooks Barnes, who is the ethics dunce.

He writes, “In a surprise — or not, given the way that Hollywood likes to sweep problems under the rug — most voters said they would not hold Singer’s involvement against the film.” No wonder Hollywood’s ethical instincts are terrible, with critics like this. What do accusations of personal conduct have to do with the excellence (or not) of Barnes’ film directing?  Here the movie critic is calling for bias!

Here’s my bias: Barnes is evidently an idiot. In the same article he writes, “This Queen biopic, directed by Bryan Singer (at least until he was fired for erratic behavior), ranks as one of the more puzzling best picture contenders in memory. (And that’s saying something, considering that the talking-pig movie “Babe” was a contender in 1996.)

WHAT?

“Babe” is one of the most creative, original, perfectly-rendered film masterpieces of the last 50 years. It not only deserved its Best Picture nomination, it deserved to win. “Braveheart,” the winner that year, was fine, but I’ll watch “Babe” (and another loser, “Apollo 13”) any time I can when I need a lift in spirit. A critic who disses “Babe” has nothing to say to me. His artistic and spiritual values are completely alien.

  • Regarding “The Favourite,” voters told the Times that though they loved the movie, they didn’t want to “throw their vote away” by voting for an underdog. A voter is supposed to vote for the film that the voter thinks is the best. This isn’t an election.

Other voters said that they hesitated to reward the period film about royal intrigue because it didn’t send a positive message about women. The movie is set in the early 18th Century! Anyone who votes using this as a criterion is too dumb to participate in the awards.

  • A studio executive told the Times that he voted for “Green Book” because he was tired of being told what movies to like and not like, and “Green Book” has been criticized for its racial tone.

This is called voting out of spite. Spite is not an ethical motivation.

  • Then there’s Netflix hate. “Do we vote for “Roma” because we think it’s the best? Or do we withhold our support — regardless of the film’s artistic merit — because we see Netflix as a threat to moviegoing?” some voters mused.

Pssst! If you think “Roma” is the best picture, you vote for it as Best Picture. Who produced it is irrelevant.

Bias makes you stupid, but admitting bias and acting on it anyway makes you stupid and despicable.

 

11 thoughts on “Bias, Spite And Agendas: So Much For The Best Picture Oscar Having Anything To Do With Picking The Best Picture

  1. I would defend the studio director’s decision to vote for Green Book: It is a movie reminds me of The Odd Couple in the manner that it shows the growing respect that the characters develop for each other. Why anyone would label this movie as rascist shows how bankrupt The Oscars have become.

  2. I haven’t watched the Oscars in years…BO–RING. Thus, I have no real interest other than to watch the news the next day and see who stepped on their tongue the worst (yeah, I know it isn’t ‘tongue’, but I’m trying to keep it clean).

  3. Re: Netflix nomination hate? I don’t think that voter would have thought any differently if it was Netflix or Amazon or CBS all access for best picture. TV movies were never considered for Oscars, and streaming bypasses the theater public viewing communal experience completely, more like TV than theater.

    I can understand the ambivalence, as streaming seems to break up even the communal aspect of broadcast where everyone watched Uncle Milty or the last M*A*S*H at the same time. It’s convenient, but everyone goes home and consumes and even binge watches asymmetrically. I’m not sure that’s a good trend anymore, there’s not enough bringing us together and there are too many shows I find repulsive. (GoT especially) With shows nominated on pay channels that cost more than a couple of tickets, how can there be a fair playing field when it’s all made into gated communities?

    I’m getting tired of more are more services that want another subscription. My budget isn’t bottomless. Why not put all tv movies up for Oscars now? Hallmark channel would be a powerhouse. How is that different than Netflix?

    • Why on earth shouldn’t a TV movie of sufficient technical and artistic merit be considered for an Academy Award? I don’t understand this criticism, at all. The viewing public has been watching films in their own homes at their own convenience for decades, between VHS tapes, pay-per-view, DVDs, and so forth. The loss of the communal experience of theatre-going and a few big TV shows aired weekly at the same time might be lamentable, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with assessing an individual film’s merits. And what really is the complaint about subscription fees? My monthly subscription to Netflix offers many fine films and TV shows, mostly not produced by Netflix, for less than a single ticket to a show at any local movie theatre. Refusing to consider a film because it was produced and distributed by a streaming service is petty. Imagine refusing to award the a literary prize to a novel published and distributed through Amazon Kindle, simply because it was not printed on ink and paper by a traditional publishing house and sold in cozy bookstores! (And how often do we read books communally?)

      Roma, the Netflix movie, did in fact have a (limited) theatrical release, by the way. It’s also a beautiful and poignant film.

      • Actually, a literary awards do not consider kindle or online only the same as hardcopy published. Home release is months later and rarely has (and probably should not have more than a dozen) the electric buzz a good movie theater… not enough people.

        A lot is that copyright isn’t necessarily assigned in epublishing. It’s still copyrighted, but the timestamp is harder to prove if there is a challenge because the media is plastic and pliable. Even membership in a professional organization like the SFWA requires things like a money trail. If the story I self published in 2015 suddenly sold a hundred thousand online should it be eligible for a Hugo five years later? Books and movies are different animals. A kindle only is far less likely to award as that is not a ‘wide release.’ And I can borrow a kindle&story at my local library before the award, but set up costs for pay channels are closed playpens. I can afford a single 10$ ticket, but not HBO setup. With the proliferation of streaming services, we’re reaching the point of eliting ‘mass media.’ Everyone likes making fun of opera on PBS as elitist, but how much is ISP/CABLE/STREAMING adding up to already? More are still on the horizon like Disney+. And each channel added makes viewerships smaller. Where’s the limit? I like freedom of choice that home viewing brings too, but we’re tipping into diminishing returns and less grouped experiences: we study, work, and watch in our family pods. I’m glad you liked Roma, but I see this as part of the trend of fractionating the culture more, not making bridges. Too many choices can be as stressful as not enough.

        Oscars has always seemed to be about the theater and communal. Golden Globe

        • If a literary prize is set up only for literature published in a particular fashion, that’s fair. Likewise, if only films that have had a wide release in movie theatres, and were not available on a streaming service, eligible for the Academy Awards, that would fair as well. Perhaps a better analogy would be if the novel were published by Amazon and available in certain book stores in limited print edition, but otherwise were distributed as a Kindle ebook.

          But Roma meets the prerequisites to be nominated for an Academy Award. Since they are met, the film must be judged on its own merits, and not rejected for extraneous concerns about Netflix or the idea that streaming services are fractioning the culture.

  4. Never a big fan of award shows.

    Oddly, I had friends who would sit through the Super Bowl to watch the commercials. They would also sit through tons of commercials just to see who won the Oscar.

    -Jut

  5. I did not know that some of the technical awards were being cut off for commercials. I know people in that side of the business (nothing big, but they’re honest and knowledgeable workers) and I will refuse to watch the awards under that condition.

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