Hey everyone, the Oscars are on this weekend! (Crickets.)
Come on, don’t you want to know who won best picture? (More crickets. In the distance, a garbage can tips over, and a cat screeches.)
OK, let’s be honest: For a lot of people, the annual pomp and circumstance of the Academy Awards is met with a tasty bowl of “who cares?” Bringing them up in public inspires all kinds of snarky comments and snide criticisms, and frankly, they’re pretty justified.
It’s easy to hate the Oscars. It’s easy to say you’d rather eat cold chili and listen to a toddler bang pots and pans together for three hours rather than spend five minutes listening to another millionaire Hollywood celebrity in borrowed jewelry lecture you on society’s ills.
Even as a movie critic, the prospect of watching the Oscars fills me with a certain degree of dread. It’s an awards show for movies that often seem laden with all kinds of non-movie-related baggage. And yet, there they are, every year, with us watching. Or at least we used to be watching. There are signs the numbers are down significantly.
Last year, viewers braced for the inevitable torrent of Trump hate. This year, the #MeToo movement is bound to take center stage, and it’s odd to think that somehow Hollywood will manage to get on a finger-pointing soapbox for its own homegrown scandal.
The producers insist that they want to back off on the political content, and I’ll believe it when I see it. I don’t fault anyone for speaking up for what they think is right, but for a lot of people, movies are supposed to get our minds off the world’s problems for a while.
Obviously, I love movies. And I’m not one of those people who insists “they just don’t make any good movies anymore.” Sure, there is a lazy fixation on sequels and remakes and franchises, and every year a lot of movies will make you wonder what our world is coming to. But there is still great stuff out there. You just have to know where to find it — or wait for someone like me to find it for you, I guess.
So can you hate something so closely connected to something you love?
Every year, a friend of mine invites me to an Oscar party he hosts with his wife and daughter, and every year I attend, but not because I’m interested in the neck-and-neck race for best supporting actress or best adapted screenplay. I go to see friends, to have great food and to get harassed by this guy named Ken who reads movie trivia questions during the commercial breaks.
If it wasn’t for the party, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be watching. I’ve never watched the Golden Globes or the SAG awards (is SAG even televised?). But since I have been watching the Academy Awards, I have to admit that for all the rubbish, somehow, in fleeting moments — like the “In Memoriam” montage — the Oscars do remind me of why I love movies so much.
Of course, sometimes the craziness does pay off. With all due respect to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway and the poor folks behind “La La Land” and that guy from PricewaterhouseCoopers, last year’s best picture goof was hilarious. In a world of Netflix and Hulu and DVRs, last year reminded us why live TV can still be worthwhile.18 comments on this story
Like a lot of big-name culture events, the Oscars are popular for the same reasons they are hated, which means they probably aren’t going to change. The red carpet nonsense will still inspire thousands of “what were they wearing?” articles, random winners will continue to use their acceptance speeches as a televised soapbox and the academy will continue to hand out recognition to films most people will never see. It’s shallow, polarizing and ambiguous by design, and until the numbers get bad enough, it will remain so.
So, can you love movies and still hate the Oscars? Absolutely. And I think Allison Janney should win best supporting actress.