Oscar The Grouch
When La La Land was announced as Best Picture winner at the Oscars last weekend, you could almost hear the sounds of a million keyboards clacking as bloggers and reporters rushed to grind out their hot takes on the broken Hollywood awards system.
Except, then — surprise! Moonlight had won after all. It was all a terrible mistake, or maybe Bonnie and Clyde thought they’d have one last go at some mischief, or maybe Leonardo DiCaprio sabotaged the whole thing in revenge against the Academy for waiting so long to give him his Oscar.
Everyone went home pleased, and the Oscars were exciting again for a hot minute.
Not relevant — just exciting.
Don’t let Moonlight‘s victory fool you. It’s been a particularly disillusioning season for award shows. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Brutally Honest Oscar Voter Ballot series was an exercise in why looking behind the curtain is the worst possible thing to do.
“I did not see Hacksaw Ridge because I heard it was very bloody and, living in the era of Trump, I felt like there’s enough violence in the world,” said one voter.
Another, on Martin Scorsese’s Silence in the Best Cinematography category: “He (Scorsese) is so wonderful, but he has got to get over his Catholic guilt. I know it’s not the cinematographer’s fault, but damn.”
“I’m having a problem with what’s-her-name (Nicole Kidman) — and not only because she wasn’t the strongest thing in that movie, but because she opened her mouth politically and pissed me off,” declared a third.
One voter also picked The Red Turtle as Best Animated Featured Film in part because “I have a turtle fetish.”
If that all doesn’t make you feel unbearably frustrated about sanctioned award shows, there was a little postmortem Grammy stir when Drake lamented that Hotline Bling was nominated and won as a best rap song — when the song contains no rap.
“It just doesn’t feel right to me. I feel almost alienated, or (like they’re) trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards or pacify me by handing me something and putting me in that category because it’s the only place where you can figure out where to put me,” he told OVO Sound the day after the ceremony.
That might have been an overkill of examples, but you see my point: We put massive amounts of stock into award shows populated by anonymous “industry” judges who don’t know what they’re voting for, have no set criteria by which to evaluate things, and yet still have the power to make or break careers.
Even more alarming to me is the vast disconnect that exists between the mostly elite fare celebrated at the Oscars and what real people actually choose to watch at the box office.
Here’s an awards show celebrating the best of cinema … that hardly anybody saw … governed by a completely broken system. Is it a surprise that Oscar broadcast ratings have been steadily dropping?
Fixing the Oscars is going to take a long time. But transparency about the judging process could go a long way.
You know change is needed when they give Suicide Squad an Oscar. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.