Monday, 8 February 2010

Why I still care about the Oscars

Unfortunately a technical error has delayed the latest ‘Splendor Cinema/Duke of York’s’ podcast. In it, Jon and I, discuss the Oscar nominations predicting who should win and who will win. It should be up this week. However, there are friends of mine who would question the wisdom of devoting as much (or any) attention to the Oscars. Some really hate the Academy Awards and will say that they don’t care who wins on the big night. To them, I say, there are so many reasons to care.

Obviously the Academy Awards can rarely be looked at as the definitive summary of that year in film, especially as they ignore foreign language film in the major categories to such a degree. But the awards are of interest because they interest the industry itself. It matters who wins because they will find it easier to get work, and if a film you like wins an Oscar then more people will be encouraged to go to see it. OK, ‘Avatar’, a likely winner of Best Picture this year, doesn’t need a boost to its box office. But imagine if ‘A Serious Man’ won. It would probably more than double the number of people who see that film. In 2008, when Paul Thomas Anderson was nominated for Best Director, I was thrilled, because that sort of recognition counts for something in Hollywood. Maybe he’ll find it a little easier to make his next film, or to attract the actors he wants or whatever. I care if films I like win awards because I want to see more films like them. Mostly though, I cover the Oscars, not because of what they say about art, but because they impact upon cinema as a business in a way BAFTAs, Golden Globes and SAG awards just don’t.

In an earlier post I predicted who I thought would be nominated this time around (and was fairly accurate). Today I thought it would be a bit of self-indulgent fun to hand out my own awards for last year in film. Now, if I were a one-man award academy, ‘A Serious Man’ would win Best Picture, with ‘The White Ribbon’ and ‘A Prophet’ nominated in the category. I would also include the mumblecore gem ‘Humpday’ and the brilliant British satire ‘In the Loop’. The Best Director would be Lars Von Trier (already self-proclaimed greatest in the world: why not make it official?) for ‘Antichrist’, the beautiful and haunting movie that became so notorious last year. ‘In the Loop’ would win the screenplay award it so richly deserves (and is really nominated for) and ‘Ponyo’ would win Best Animated Film (for which it isn’t even a nominee). In terms of actors, I would award Michael Stuhlbarg and nominate Max Records (the little boy from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’). Both are intense and interesting screen performers. The actress category would be won by Carey Mulligan, for ‘An Education’, who is deservedly actually nominated outside of this fantasy.

If, somehow, you aren’t all Oscar-ed out by now, stay tuned for the aforementioned podcast later this week to hear Jon and I predict the winners and losers for the real event.

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