Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Oscar Gripes

 I'm not even sure where to start with my Oscar gripes this year.
The snub of Lady Gaga for Best Actress is galling. House of Gucci was one of the few Oscar-hyped films I made a point of seeing this year - along with Being the Ricardos - and both were shut out of the Best Picture category. But I really thought Lady Gaga was a lock for another Oscar nod this year. 

Then there is the Original Song category where you could have just picked every song from Encanto and left it at that. But while Encanto is filled with wonderful songs that are tearing up the pop charts like the sensational "We Don't Talk About Bruno" and "Surface Pressure," what song does the tone-deaf Academy nominate? - the Spanish language "Dos Oruguitas," which is a wonderful song, but nowhere near the best song in the movie. 

And then there is the Best Director category where it seems we are setting up for the 12th year in a row where a non-American director will win the statue. The last American director to win an Oscar was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. This year there are only two American directors nominated - Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson - while the Oscar is likely to go to New Zealand's Jane Campion.

And we also seem to have a new requirement where the Academy has to nominate a foreign language film every year for Best Picture. This is the fourth year in a row where one of the precious Best Picture slots goes to a foreign language film - in 2018 it was Roma, in 2019 it was Parasite (which even won the Oscar that year), in 2020 it was Minari, and this year it is Drive My Car.

Meanwhile, the Academy continues its long-standing policy of ignoring movies that are popular with people who actually spend money going to the movies. If a film earns more than $100 million at the domestic box office it is guaranteed to be ignored by the snooty voters of the Academy. This year it is Spider Man No Way Home that got snubbed after raking in an incredible $572 million in a Covid year! 
The whole point of expanding the Oscar nominations from 5 to 10 was to make more room for popular films like SpiderMan to get some recognition and maybe attract more viewers to watch the annual shindig. Instead, Academy voters now just fill all 10 slots with art-house cinema that few people have (or will) see. The most popular nominee this year is Dune which earned just under $100 million at the box office which seems to be the Academy's cutoff point. Any film making over $100 million is only eligible for the Best Visual Effects trophy. 

Dune is also the only nominated film that I have seen so far. I may get around to seeing a few others at some point like King Richard, Don't Look Up and Nightmare Alley. But most of the other films just aren't all that appealing. They are not "popcorn" films that you would want to see again and again. They are more like "eat your vegetables" films. You know they are good for you, but you still don't like it. I've seen a lot of Oscar-winning films that are like that - where the reaction is 'Yes, this was a very good film. Please don't make me watch it again."

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