the oscars shouldn’t matter.

In less than two hours, it is the biggest award show of the season. THE OSCARS. The time when people would get out their wine and snapchat the day of preparing for The Oscars with specialized snacks  to looking at what the celebrities are wearing on the red carpet. Maybe we’ll even bring back the mani-cam, cause it’s 2017 and…that is a topic for another day.

I have a confession to make. I’ve never sat down and watched The Oscars. (GASP) I understood and was disgusted last year because of #OscarsSoWhite.  I’ve watched clips of speeches that I’ve heard were either inspirational or tear-jerking. I’ve seen the highlights of the monologue, but I’ve never watched the Oscars fully as it was because, I didn’t understand what the big deal was.

Ironic because my entire blog is about issues or topics within Hollywood that people tend to shrug off when I believe it should be considered a big deal. And maybe it’s a deviation from the usual but here I am, confused as to why this golden statue seems to mean the pinnacle of success? I mean I understood it to an extent that this was an award show showcasing movies that have been critically acclaimed but why is it that an Oscar seems to be a bigger deal than the Golden Globe or the SAG award. Is it really just because the Oscars is the oldest award show or is it because the public just have a perception that getting an Oscar matters when in reality, it shouldn’t.

Knowing that this is my first time, I did what any reasonable person would do.  I googled it. I learned a brief history of the Oscars, how much an Oscar costs, who votes for the Oscars, and revisited the hot topic of #OscarsSoWhite, and finally, I learned how the Oscars voting system worked. And the strange and confusing voting system is exactly what I am going to be talking about.

VOX explains it best that with the instant runoff voting system, the Oscar for Best Picture won’t go to the one with that may deserve it, rather it may go to the one in the second or third space because it had the broadest support. But a movie is the best because it’s supported the most as a safe movie. A movie is suppose to be a work of art that stirs something in you. “Bold and polarizing” movies that may have been the topic of conversation for months (Moonlight) may not get the award simply because it didn’t play into the safe hands of Hollywood (La La Land).

So if the Oscar’s goal is to give the “highest honors in filmmaking”, why are we not giving it to the movies that have the strongest opinions? Why not give it to the movies that may make people uncomfortable or leave the theater speechless? Now, I’m not saying that every award has been given incorrectly throughout the award’s history, but I can’t help but think when people keep telling me that La La Land will win, about movies like Moonlight or Lion that seem to be better than a musical about Hollywood.

It’s no wonder that people are saying how La La Land is just Hollywood patting itself on it’s back. And yet films like these, that seem to fall short in comparison to movies like Moonlight and Lion, will win because of the strange voting system that denies movies that have a more passionate response (both positive and negative).

So if the voting system doesn’t really mean anything,what are we watching the Oscars for? Are we just watching an exclusive group of people voting for one another to collect as many golden trophies as possible? With this voting system, it’s not the Best Picture award, it’s the award that didn’t piss off too many people and gave the audience a couple of giggles or two. Why does one award matter so much? Why does the Oscar seem to matter more than any other film award besides the fact that it’s the oldest and it’s tradition.

I still don’t know the answers to those questions. I see the merit in awarding movies and people within the film industry. I see that this is a platform in which people can bring up issues. Like when Marlon Brando refused the Oscar and gave Sacheen Littlefeather a chance to speak on Native American rights. Or when Leonardo DiCaprio spoke during his win about climate change and how there needs to be more attention and care given in regards to environmental rights. I understand that importance of the award show then, but are those small moments worth the immense praise the Oscars get? Especially when those moments aren’t planned by the award show but rather the people who see it as an opportunity to speak about these issues.

The Oscars shouldn’t matter but it does. And one tiny blog can’t change anything about that but maybe it can spark a conversation (even among my peers) on if this voting system within the Academy is actually an effective way to truly honor the movies that deserve such praise or if it’s just hollow and shallow. And maybe a movie doesn’t have to win an Oscar or even be nominated for one to be considered great.

UPDATE:

LA LA LAND was called the winner, and then it was actually revealed that Moonlight was the real winner for best picture.  There are not enough words to contain my joy that this movie won. And this reaction that I am having, I still do not understand why I’m having it but I guess that’s why the Oscars are a big deal. The emotions behind it, the anxiety of wanting your favorite to win–or maybe in the end, it’s all just for show and it simply doesn’t matter.

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3 thoughts on “the oscars shouldn’t matter.

  1. stephenmoellersblog says:

    Well, when I saw this topic, I was instantly drawn-in due to the subject matter. I cannot find anything that I have a major problem with in your blog. In fact, one of the things that I watched all of the Academy Awards for was not to watch the “best films of all time,” but rather as like a history lesson. You bring up a really good point that I, the aspiring Oscar historian, have wondered for years: why are they considered so highly? In fact, some of the best films of all time never win any Oscars. Alfred Hitchcock is widely considered the best director of all time by many, yet, he never won a single Oscar. Also, great actors like Montgomery Clift and Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson have never won. I have mixed emotions about the preferential voting system – it does not always reward the riskier movies (like last year, The Big Short got snubbed because of it I think), but it does usually give a solid consensus result. Now I do want to clarify – I know I’ve hated a lot on La La Land. But, it is a decent movie that certainly deserves its merits. It just, in my opinion, was not anywhere near the best and I do not understand nearly all of the hype it is getting.

    Some of the best films of all time never got any respect from the Academy. Singin’ In the Rain was not nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and Citizen Kane was snubbed for political purposes.
    To me, it does not entirely matter what the message is – it’s how strongly it is communicated that makes the difference for me. By this, I mean take the example of the 2002 Oscars. Many people hate Rob Marshall’s Chicago because it (a musical) beat out The Pianist (a Holocaust biopic). However, I love Chicago and believe it is one of the best movie musicals of all time. I felt it may have been communicated even better in its message than The Pianist (which is a wonderful, fantastic film). It would be unfair to hold Chicago back, just because it does not speak as serious or as somber of a message as The Pianist. That’s where I would caution scrutiny of the themes (although it is a super important component). However, for the most part, I would agree that the value of the Oscars are LARGELY inflated. It also definitely does not nearly recognize foreign language films nearly as well as they should (i.e. Frederico Fellini’s “8 1/2”).

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  2. stephenmoellersblog says:

    Ok I felt it was my civic duty to comment again after that huge blunder to end the ceremony. I honestly think that one mishap really signified how much of a joke the Oscars are. I didn’t like “La La Land” that much, but its producers/crew did not deserve to be just abjectly crushed and blindsided like that. That was wrong on many levels. “Moonlight” was good, but nowhere near the level of “Hidden Figures” or “Lion” or “Hell or High Water”. Not even close. All of this calamity just sort of reiterates this question: WHY DOES THIS CEREMONY MEAN SO DAMN MUCH!? Like whoever won was not going to take away the merit and the greatness that each film had. “Moonlight” didn’t just become ‘better’ because it won. In the moment that ‘La La Land’ was revealed to not be the winner, it didn’t become a ‘worse’ film. It all just seems like such a conundrum to me every time I watch.

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    1. kjoany says:

      While I was happy that Moonlight won because I absolutely loved the film and I thought it was brilliantly done, I was still shocked at the HUGE blunder that the Oscars did. It was embarrassing and since it was the last and (debatably) one of the most important categories, I felt bad for the producers and the entire cast and crew that went up there. It’s humbling but at the same time, they didn’t deserve that sort of attention. But at the same time, the bias I had with wanting Moonlight to win caused me to tear up when it was revealed that they won instead of La La Land.

      But I like the comment that you made on questioning why this ceremony mattered. I thought all of those movies that you’ve mentioned were amazing movies that were so different and so well made and just–I still don’t know what the big deal is but I can’t say that I’m not happy with the result that Moonlight won over La La Land. I agree with you that films that don’t win the Oscar doesn’t mean they are worse films, but the it’s in the perception of it all.

      This being the first Oscars I watched live and fully, like usual I didn’t like all the winners, especially having to deal with music or the best actors category, but it was interesting to watch it and hear the speeches without knowing the results already.

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