The Academy Awards are Basically a Popularity Contest
I love pop culture, watching movies and television and listening to music, and of course following the glamour that surrounds those industries.
But I don’t take any of it too seriously. World peace – that I take seriously. Violence in society – I lose sleep over that.
The glitz, the awards, the kudos, even the critics appraisals of films don’t affect me in changing my opinion, or in idolizing the wrong people. I am not saying that I was that mature in the past, because anyone who knew me when growing up knew I was absolutely obsessed in idolizing many music, TV, and movie stars of the day.
Now I can admire the work of say, a Jennifer Lawrence, a Meryl Streep, etc, without idolizing them. Emma Thompson is someone whose work I admire but who has possibly questionable opinions on things I personally hold dear. (like Israel) So that’s why I try to avoid thinking these stars are so great.
Because I study what Hollywood and the critics like, I can usually guess the Oscar nominations. I was pretty accurate this year, I must admit. For example, I know that Oscar voters nominate veterans for a stellar performance, and they then get the sentimental vote, but it is only if they haven’t been previously recognized. The voters sometimes reward for a body of work, rather than a role. They resist nominating ones who gave a good performance, but not the best of their career, if that person has already had a bunch of accolades. So this year, I pretty much eliminated Tom Hanks and Robert Redford from the best actor categories. (Meryl Streep is an exception and is in a class by herself, and it looks like Jennifer Lawrence is heading in that direction too)
It is fun to guess and predict, but I don’t take these awards seriously. I watch more for the fashion and to see the celebrities all in one place, hear some of the self-depreciating humor about them all, and to study the winners of the lesser known categories.
Why that last thing to study you may ask? The stars, they get their high salaries, idolization, magazine covers, free gowns and loaned jewels, swag bags for presenting – they get it all. The “other category” people do not – the documentary filmmakers for one. They are far more interesting to watch.
Do any of you remember yearbooks of the past? Where someone was voted “Most Popular,” or “Best Looking” or “Best Dressed” or “Funniest” or “Most Likely to Succeed?” Invariably, the students selected for the categories were those high profile stars of high school who were like the celebrities of our small worlds in high school. They certainly didn’t need more recognition, accolades, or affirmations that they were too terrific for mere words, yet they got those awards and mention in the yearbooks.
That’s how I think of all the award shows. Stars LOVE pats on the back – not just those by critics, but those by voting academies. The awards go to the darlings, or most popular of that year. So it’s not really that important. Now sometimes the darlings are unexpected, and that is pretty great.
The Golden Globe awards really crack me up because the body of voters is under 100 and is the foreign press writers who cover things in Hollywood. So does it really matter who they vote for “Best” of in each category, or is it simply a matter of which stars are nice to them when they go to interview them for a foreign publication.
Occasionally I am thrilled when a small film, a dark horse that really, really got to me, is rewarded in a big way and is voted most popular that year. It doesn’t mean it is important, but I like making those discoveries and then congratulating myself on my great taste. This happened to me when The Artist (thanks Karen for correcting) was chosen as best film two year ago, as I was so tickled and charmed by this film, as well as the male lead for best actor – whose name I already forgot. (See how important it is?) Update: Karen also named him Jean Dujardin
It happened when that Italian guy won for Life is Beautiful. (See how we forget these lesser knowns? That’s why I root hard for them!)
But mostly, I eat my popcorn, watch for the fashion, the faux pas in speeches, the humor, and yawn a little bit when Lord of the Rings or Titanic wins everything big.
Yes, it kind of irks me that we are recognizing and glorifying all those “Most Popular” kids – the actors of the industry, but it gives you something to look forward to in February.