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.)
“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.