The Oscars has long been the most prestigious awards ceremony in the film industry. Individuals have spent their lives clamoring after the little golden statue in an attempt to achieve the highest accolade possible. But, in the end, it’s all just a farse.
I don’t mean to shower contempt upon all those greats who have truly deserved the praise that an Oscar undoubtedly brings. Indeed, I look back at the great names who have won the prize after some astounding performances, some breathtaking direction and unbelievable hands-on work like cinematography or editing and I am full of respect and awe for their craft. But I can similarly look back and witness some absolute travesties!
For a more modern readership, I’m sure you’ll remember The Hurt Locker pipping Avatarto the Best Picture post in 2009. While I was not a huge fan of either movie (in fact I stopped watching The Hurt Locker out of complete boredom) I will admit that Avatar‘s breakthrough in cinematic convention and the huge success it earned at the box office was well worthy of the award. Going back a little bit in time to 1999 it was a sham that the ditsy Shakespeare in Love could possible triumph over Spielberg’s grisly Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. And then, from waaaay back when in 1942, people are still scratching their heads and wondering how Citizen Kane could lose out to How Green Was My Valley.
And here’s the problem with all of this: there are too many awards ceremonies. The Oscars have become too predictable, and, in an attempt to spice it up a little bit, it seems as though the Academy of motion Picture Arts and Sciences have to throw in some curveballs just to keep things interesting. To get people talking. To pull in some viewership.
And, in the process, we get some unexpected and rather disappointing results.
Last year Anne Hathaway and James Franco (the latter of whom was nominated for an Oscar himself) hosted the event in an attempt to ‘youth’ it up after the geriatric duo of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin the year before. Backfiring horribly, last year’s show got some of the worst reviews in history. So, very predictably, they’ve done a complete 180 and gone back to a man who have hosted the Oscars on 8 occasions. The 63-year-old Billy Crystal is a safe choice if ever there was one and will become the oldest single host since Bob Hope in 1978. So instead of appealing to younger audiences, the HFPA have chosen a man that the youth will struggle to connect to. Indeed, the only thing receding faster than Crystal’s hairline will be the viewership of the younger demographic.
Recently, Crystal has faded into obscurity; his last interesting job being the voice of the character of Mike in Pixar’s 2006 film Monsters Inc. Crystal tweeted: “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show” and many may well be having to rack their brains to remember his name when they see his face on their television sets come the 26th of February.
And so, tragically, the Oscars have lost some of the prestige with which they have always been associated. There is no Ricky Gervais tearing up the stage like there is in the Golden Globes. There are very few surprises due to the plethora of awards ceremonies before the ‘big one’ and if they are, they are often rather sub-standard.
The only positive in all of this is that maybe, just maybe, this year’s favourite, The Artist, will be beaten to the stage by one of the other films nominated for Best Picture. Because never, in the history of filmmaking, has there been a film more up itself than Michel Hazanavicius’ silent, black and white piece of self-indulgence. Well maybe there has, but let’s still hold our thumbs!