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Finn`s Wake : And The Oscar Goes To
© Mark Finn
February 14, 2004

When I was a wee lad of twenty, I used to follow the Oscar Race with same fervor that Pete Rose used to track his Fantasy Baseball team. To me, this was important stuff; it was our measure of culture, our night of glory on the world stage, and a chance for art to triumph in the face of commercialism.

I rooted for every genre movie that got a nomination in special make-up effects, sound editing, and costuming, knowing in my heart of hearts that if these won in their categories, they could boast "winner of 3 Oscars" on the covers of the videos and DVDs. That, I was sure, would kick the door open for the acceptance of these films to a much wider audience.

Man, was I naive.

Here's a blurb from The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences website:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional honorary organization of over 6,000 motion picture professionals, was founded to advance the arts and sciences of motion pictures; foster cooperation among creative leaders for cultural, educational and technological progress; recognize outstanding achievements; cooperate on technical research and improvement of methods and equipment; provide a common forum and meeting ground for various branches and crafts; represent the viewpoint of actual creators of the motion picture; and foster educational activities between the professional community and the public-at-large.

I didn't expect to find a full member's list, but after reading the above I got even more frustrated. Over six thousand members, all from within the industry, and yet as a collective I wouldn't be surprised to find out that every one of them has their head stuck right up their ass. I would be even less surprised to find out that they have blindfolded a chimp, spun him around, and forced him to fling poop at a wall chart. Whatever sticks gets the Oscar.

Why track it? Why watch? If they are just going to placate people, distribute awards after the fact, and snub their own, why not just dial it back to a formal banquet without all of the showy pomp and circumstance. So someone wore a tacky dress -- big deal. Someone said something dumb and inflammatory. Whoa, that's never happened before, especially where pinhead celebrities are concerned.

I realize that most of this ire comes from a distinctly bad taste in my mouth called Superbowl 38. Nevertheless, why should I waste my time? It's not as if I had anything to do with the movies nominated (side note: I DO know someone who was a stuntman in Master and Commander, so for him, I'm rooting). I didn't write or direct them. These awards don't mean anything to me personally. Sure, I liked some of the movies nominated, but to pretend that ME liking the film translates into The Poop-Flinging Academy Monkey hitting the film with his offal is a pretty big leap in logic.

My favorite thing the Academy does is the Whoops Oscar. This is awarded usually to a good-to-great actress only after they didn't give it to her last year, the year she really deserved it; and in doing so it always manage to snub an actress who deserves the award. They rarely think ahead; they always react.

Right after that comes the Gimme Oscar, usually given to an old, about-to-die actor, for a mediocre part, after the Academy realizes: This person has never won an Oscar for anything in forty years.

Then there's the Huh? Oscar. Out of the blue, someone you've never heard before suddenly wins an award. No one has seen the film, and it's in limited release in LA and New York, but the Academy is all over it like white on rice.

This goes hand in hand with the Non-Oscar. The best example of this, although there are many others: six thousand people strong, and no one saw Hoop Dreams? Sure, it was a documentary, but that's beside the point; anything up for consideration usually gets sent in VHS (now DVD) form to the members, along with a big DO NOT DISTRIBUTE messages running along the bottom of the screen. So why didn't they even nominate the movie? I didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now.

These members of the Academy, these six thousand plus, are nothing more than insiders who are so caught up in the fishbowl world of Hollywood, playing silly political games and scrambling to say and do the right thing, that it's a wonder any of them have time to see any movies. I'll bet you anything that while everyone else chews on their knuckles and waits for Oscar Night, there's a swift and furious flurry of campaigning that goes on between members for favorites and darlings. I imagine it being a lot like when the Senate or the House of Representatives get together and try to secure enough votes for a resolution to pass.

And as for genre films, well, I've given up on hoping for acceptance among the Californians. Who cares what they think? Years ago, after the first Matrix movie premiered and it was deemed revolutionary by all who saw it, did we get smarter, more intellectually engaging movies, or did we get more wire-work Kung Fu action? Thank God for independent films, or we'd never get any new blood into the machine.

That said, I'm positive that Return of the King will take home the best picture (which used to be called best production, and a better name it was, at that) Oscar, if for no other reason than everyone has howled at the academy for overlooking the trilogy in the last two years. As a production goes, that trilogy has dwarfed (like how I worked that in? Dwarfed? Hah!) any other film series to date. The entire country of New Zealand made those movies. Now that the movies are finished, I think the Academy will have to acknowledge that fact. Let's see if I'm right. I'll also go out on a limb right now and say that Charlize Theron will be overlooked in Monster so that Diane Keaton can win for a fluffy comedy. This will ensure Theron's Oscar next year when she plays the Villainess in the third Charlie's Angels movie.

I love movies, and I feel it is capable of doing wonderful things: touching us, making us laugh, scaring the bejeezus out of us, and best of all, it does it to a group at the same time. That's pretty cool. And there's a part of me that wants to support the Oscars. I may watch, but I sure won't care who wins. Why bother? The insiders have that track already covered. I say, if you have an Oscar Party, make it a drinking game or something: Pick your winners, and every time you get it wrong, you have to take a drink. Every time they show Nicholson laughing in the audience, everyone drinks. You get the idea. Someone should get something out of Oscar Night. It might as well be a hangover.

Oscar.com gives a list of all of the nominees, along with a lot of hype. Enjoy!


Mark Finn is the Games Editor for RevolutionSF and the author of two books of fiction: Gods New and Used and Year of the Hare. To get the latest info, rants, and missives from Finn, send an email to finnswake-subscribe@yahoo.com.

 
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