Why I'm an Oscars grouch.
The Oscars are stupid.
Sure, there's probably a more delicate way to kick off this rant but let's just embrace the rant nature of it and just get to the point.
Art is subjective. There's no such thing as a "Best Picture." There's no truly objective way to judge a film. Take editing for instance. When "The Big Short" was nominated for Best Editing, some editors I worked with lauded the choice saying, "I noticed a lot of interesting choices they made," to which other editors responded, "But you shouldn't notice those choices! If you notice the editing, it's bad editing." So who's right? Neither, but both! Because there are differing schools of thought, neither of which is definitively right and wrong.
(Tangent: When I was at The Broad Museum recently, I was looking at a piece of abstract art, wondering what made it "art", and the write-up commented something to the effect of "It broke the rules of abstract art", which stunned me since I thought the entire point of abstract art was that there were no rules.)
Another example is Best Actor. How do we define the BEST acting job? Denzel Washington gave a great performance but he had the words of August Wilson in his arsenal. Might Ryan Gosling be a better choice since he won over audiences with a character that wasn't as fully developed? Or what about someone in an effects-heavy movie who spent most of their time acting on a green screen set and having to imagine the world and characters around them. Better yet, I'm sure there is some actor out there who, despite having a novice director, barely-there script, and coked-up co-stars gave a top notch performance.
Making matters murkier, there are industry whispers that a few Best Actor/Actress trophies should have gone to the film's editors instead of the actors. Word is that certain Academy-crowned actors actually gave terrible performances but the editors scratched together their best takes and made them look better than they were.
The Oscars having any esteem becomes outright comical* when one looks at the rationales that Academy voters often give for their choices. Last year, a director told Entertainment Weekly that he was voting for Leonardo DiCaprio because "Any vegetarian who will eat a raw bison liver for art has my vote." What the hell does that have to do with acting?! Which brings up a whole 'nother issue - awards for degradation. Academy voters often give awards to people who go through massive weight changes for a role or punish themselves. Is that acting? Is that "better" than someone who just went into a studio every day but created an amazing character and performance? When did acting become a war of attrition?
*Sorry, did I say comical? I shouldn't have when discussing the Oscars since it mostly ignores comedy.
This year adds another element of annoyance for me; the calls for actors to not be political. Supposedly, actors and filmmakers should just graciously accept their trophy and move on. I'm sorry but if you give someone a microphone and access to 30-40 million eyeballs, I think they get to say what they want. I'm sure if a conservative won and spoke in favor of Pro-Life values, the same people who are telling liberal actors to shut up and just accept the award would be falling all over themselves about how courageous and selfless an act it was that the person spoke out for the unborn. Either way, isn't an impassioned political speech, whether you agree or not, more interesting than listening to people thank a bunch of friends and co-workers you don't know?
I'm all for The Oscars being Hollywood's Festivus in which winners get to air their grievances. (Or, on a more positive tip, thank groups of people in the industry or in the world who are overlooked and underappreciated. Or promote their favorite charity.)
And in the end, the Oscars just don't mean anything. People are up in arms because La La Land has more Oscar nominations than revered, classic musicals. Who cares? How does that affect anything? It's not like if I try to watch "L.A. Confidential" my TV will automatically switch me over to "Titanic" because it won Best Picture that year. Hell, none of the three films tied for the most wins (Titanic, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Ben Hur) are in AFI's Top 50 of All-Time. (And no, art listicles aren't any better than awards unless they're used as a source of debate/discussion.)
At least the Grammys, which are also stupid, deliver enough musical performances to make the show worthwhile. The Oscars usually have more staid musical performances and then relies on a stand-up comic to deliver their best PG to PG-13 material... DURING A 3.5 TO 4 HOUR SHOW!
Count me out.