Just hours until the Oscars. And if you’ve been following my informed coverage, you know I don’t really think much of them this year.I mean, if “Children of Men” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” aren’t in contention for Best Picture, what’s the point of it? Why should we pretend that “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Queen” can match “The Departed” — or even “Letters from Iwo Jima” — as cinematic accomplishments?
(No disrespect to “The Queen”, but that film is a delivery vehicle for two tremendous performances, and if Michael Sheen didn’t rate an acting nomination, well, that says everything about the Academy’s regard for the picture as a whole.)
But still, people are asking me about what they should see, and what movies have the best chance of winning. I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again: Go see “Children of Men” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”, on the biggest screens you can find, and then tell me the Oscars are the ultimate arbiter of cinematic quality.
My friend and colleague John Harkness at Now has long explained that the Oscars should be given the same weight as any other industry awards — the prizes are nominated and awarded by a subset of professionals whose values and standards are not necessarily reflective of the world beyond their industry. Just like critics’ associations, but with an entirely different set of evaluative criteria.
The awards are an opportunity to focus attention on the industry, and a chance for some additional marketing, and only peripherally exist to highlight a film the masses might not have otherwise encountered — again, I’m thinking “Pan’s Labyrinth” here — and nothing more. If you thought “The Marine” was the best film of 2006, and Robert Patrick got totally hosed for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, the Oscars aren’t going to change that. And I might even agree with you on the second thing. Dude is awesome.
Me, I just like watching the ceremony in high-def, the better to see who’s had surgery since last time. And it’s a great excuse to eat junk food with a clear conscience — it’s part of the aesthetic, baby!