Off to the Races…

Even though the Academy Award’s history of choosing abominable Best Picture winners dates back to this venerable institution’s inception, my first memory of living through a truly confounding upset belongs to Crash beating Brokeback Mountain. A few years later, when The King‘s Speech somehow took the prize from The Social Network, I vowed never to care about the Oscars again.

My disappointment was by no means rooted in the fact that my preferred option didn’t win; I rarely expect my idiosyncratic taste to align perfectly with those of the much more conventional Academy members. But there’s a wide gap between a difference of opinion and a completely indefensible decision. The two instances cited above are examples of the latter; Crash is average at best while Brokeback Mountain was revolutionary for its era, and The Social Network is one of the most seminal movies of and about the 21st century (I swear my disdain for The King’s Speech goes beyond the fact that everyone called me King that entire season since I’m also a stutterer; unlike most, I don’t yearn to see myself represented on screen).

For all of these reasons, I chose to break up with Oscar, even though I knew I’d miss tracking the ups and downs of the daily roller coaster ride that is campaign season. But for the sake of my emotional wellbeing and mental sanity, I needed to watch the proceedings from a more removed vantage point (and yes, I’m aware all of this makes me sound like a lunatic who desperately needs to learn some perspective).

But just like that, Oscar pulled me back in.

I can’t help it! I think these awards matter! When I was a budding cinephile back in the day, the Academy Awards were my main source guiding me towards which movies from the past I needed to watch to educate myself on the history of film. I of course subsequently broadened my horizons, but I think it’s safe to assume that future junkies will keep relying on the Oscars to accrue cinema knowledge.

And that’s why I tend to place such importance in the Academy Awards.

So I’m here to tell you that I’m back, baby!

I actually came to this decision today because of the just-announced Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. In recent years, Best Picture came down to a handful of titles. But this year, IT’S A WIDE OPEN RACE. Seriously, look at this (alphabetical) list of POSSIBLE contenders:

Call Me by Your Name
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Big Sick
The Florida Project
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

That’s double the TOTAL number the Academy used to nominate every year! We might really be heading towards a situation where every nominee has a chance of winning! How am I supposed to not gleefully follow this race?!

If I had made that list yesterday, it wouldn’t have included Mudbound (are voters really going to award Netflix, a company that refuses to theatrically release their movies nationwide), The Big Sick (I feel like Lady Bird stole its thunder as the go-to lighthearted crowdpleaser), and Three Billboards (not enough widespread support).

But that’s the power of the SAGs. Since actors comprise the largest voting bloc for the Oscars, their preferences matter. The last time that the eventual Best Picture winner didn’t receive a nomination for the SAGs’ biggest award was…1995! The second year the SAGs even existed!

Rules are of course always meant to be broken, but if this trend holds true this year, one of these five will be our Best Picture winner on March 4:

Get Out
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Big Sick
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A) None of these were considered the favorites pre-SAGs

B) For the record, I went out on a limb MID-YEAR by predicting Get Out would be nominated. I MAY HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE GAME FOR A WHILE, BUT I STILL GOT IT!

C) All of this makes Lady Bird the favorite…

But of course anything can change at a moment’s notice. Despite all that, if I had to predict the winner right now, I’d go with The Post. Steven Spielberg + Meryl Streep + Tom Hanks + a proudly-feminist story that will let Hollywood liberals stick it to Trump by awarding a tale about the noble perseverance of journalism in the face of Presidential attacks = Oscars Gold.

Regardless, what matters most of all is that there are really no stinkers in this bunch, which is a rarity for the Oscars. I still need to see Call Me By Your Name, Mudbound, The Post, and Three Billboards. But as of now, I wouldn’t mind any of the other contenders taking home the gold.

Which means, as of right now, Oscar can’t once again crush my heart this year.

Which means, I’ll probably be writing a lot more about this awards season in the coming months.

LET’S GO!

 

 

3 thoughts on “Off to the Races…

  1. Sir Ridley

    While the Oscars generally suck. They are still a huge influence on the average persons viewing habits. The difference in box office totals for movies like moonlight and room pre and post Oscar nominations and eventual wins is huge. Even the globes while deservedly mocked are still powerful box office forces for speciality theatres outside of the LA/NYC markets.

    Like

    1. Agreed on all counts, which are some of the many reasons I have a hard time disregarding the Oscars entirely. More often than not though, following along and even caring is just an unavoidably painful experience…

      Like

  2. Sir Ridley

    While the Oscars generally suck. They are still a huge influence on the average persons viewing habits. The difference in box office totals for movies like moonlight and room pre and post Oscar nominations and eventual wins is huge. Even the globes while deservedly mocked are still powerful box office forces for speciality theatres outside of the LA/NYC markets.

    Like

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