Monday, February 23, 2009

Slum Dog This Oscar

Everyone is talking about the Oscars – the annual awards show where Hollywood pats itself on the back, by honouring the best of the best by handing out gold trophies of naked men called Oscar.

Many industries have awards nights to recognize outstanding achievements in their field. But everyone knows about the Oscars – it’s so Hollywood, with long red carpets, the international press swarming alongside, and of course all those big name celebrities, piling out of equally big fancy limos.

But over the years Hollywood has succumb to its own self glorification. The Oscars – and one can easily make the argument for all the other entertainment awards like the Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes and others – are more about insider industry politics and ego stroking, than about an outstanding quality achievement.

I think I started to see this several years ago, when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was coming out. After the first one came out, and then again when the second arrived, there was buzz in Hollywood that the films were both deserving of some recognition, but they wouldn’t get any until after all the films had been released.
And then, sure enough, the year the final movie was released in the Lord of the Rings saga, it received numerous nominations, and later awards.

I lost faith in the Hollywood award ceremonies when I heard and saw this occur. The whole point of giving someone an Oscar is to recognize their achievements in that specific year – it is an annual award none-the-less! Waiting until all the movies come out in a series not only taints the awards from a timely perspective, but also colors the tone of what the Oscars really are all about – popularity and politics.

I enjoyed the first Lord of the Rings movie, but wasn’t so crazy about the others. Though all were very well done, with awe inspiring landscaped settings, incredible creature creations, and captivating special effects – who’s to say that the last movie was the one deserving of all the awards for the whole series – even though not everyone who worked on the first movie worked on the others?

When an Oscar is given to an actor, director, or even the guys that do the sound effects (called Foley Artists), isn’t that award for a specific movie, in a specific year?

Even if the same actors, directors, and other numerous people that put together the films we line-up for at the theatre worked on a series, who’s to say that their work on the last film will be the best of that year? What if another movie is more deserving? Do we not grant that better film an award, because someone else is already supposed to get the award?

Once there is even the slightest indication that an award is being held for a specific reason for someone or some group, then the whole award ceremony becomes nothing more than a sham, a fraud, something which is rigged from the outset.

And the movie-going public is ultimately the group that suffers most from this fraud. Winning an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and other such awards almost always guarantees more of the same from those who won those awards. They become more “marketable” within their professional circle, and will be offered more projects to work on.

Problem is, if the award was given to someone just because they didn’t get the award years ago when they were doing quality work, then they may end up creating more movies, but none of them really great works.

Take Mickey Rourke for example. He won the Golden Globe for his role in “The Wrestler” and was nominated for an Oscar for this role. When was Rourke last in a successful film? Without surfing the net to find the answer, just name the film off the top of your head. Go on – betcha can’t.

Truth is Rourke hasn’t had a successful film in over twenty-years, since 1983’s critically acclaimed “Diner” where he won the Boston Society of Film Critics award for best supporting actor.

The Hollywood press is summing it up as Rourke’s breakout year. If it took you or me over twenty years to finally figure out how to do our jobs, we most likely would have been sacked long before it got to that point in time.

But because the Oscars are more about popularity and politics than about actual real achievements, it’s commonplace to give out awards not based on achievement, but because it’s just time to do it.

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