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Viau’s View/Scott Viau

Oscars are fun, but ultimately meaningless

February 14, 2013
The Daily Mining Gazette

I love the Oscars. I always have. Ever since I was a little kid and would record them on VHS tapes and then never watch them again. But you know, they're really not indicative of what films ultimately stand the test of time. What they do is exemplify what was popular at the time and what, for however brief of a moment, connected with the voters.

I suppose the biggest and most obvious example of this is "Citizen Kane," a film hailed far and wide as not just one of, but the best film of all time. I like "Citizen Kane," but even I wouldn't (with my mighty film minor) go so far as to say it's the best of all time or any film for that matter.

Watching a movie is such a personal, yet social, experience and it affects us all in different ways. We sit together in a dark theater with strangers or in a softly-lit living room with friends, and let the story envelope us.

What we walk away with is going to be something different to each person. It's impossible to say with any certainty what film is the best of all time.

But I digress. While "Kane" was nominated for a platter of awards, including best picture, it only walked away with best original screenplay. "How Green Was My Valley" took home the award that year a film we don't hear nearly as much about, and to be honest, I've never even seen it, although it's on my list, which I'll be probably never finish.

My favorite film of all time is a toss-up between "Magnolia" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" - two films I love dearly. But even combined they received barely more than a few nominations.

They were never frontrunners at the Oscars, but I'm glad the nominations may have given them that extra bit of exposure they may have otherwise never received.

And that's the benefit of awards. They bring to light movies that might otherwise languish on the store shelves, digital or otherwise, where no one would ever see them.

True story: Ellen Burstyn is an actress I like quite a bit. When I saw she was nominated for a movie I'd never heard of, "Requiem for a Dream," I quickly looked up information on it, saw it was a book, read it and fell in love with author Hubert Selby, Jr. I found his phone number (don't ask how) and called him to tell him how much I admired his work. He's my favorite author.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2004. But because of her nomination, I found an author I love and was able to speak with for a brief moment.

Every year on Oscar night those who love movies gather around their TV sets, hoping that the film they've enjoyed the most will be the most honored, but it rarely happens that way. The Academy Awards and entry into the hall of winners is a club and those who can make the biggest impression, create the most hype and campaign the hardest are allowed access.

It doesn't have much to do with the quality of the movie but with the quantity of publicity and schmoozing.

Actors and actresses make voters fawn over them, hoping they'll see how different they are from the character they've played, which proves how good of a performance they gave.

It's also ridiculous that a film can win that can take home best picture sometimes doesn't get best director and vice-versa. I?can think of a few examples of this:?Steven Spielberg won in 1998 for "Saving Private Ryan,"?but when it came time to announce best picture, it was "Shakespeare in Love"?that took hope the prize - a film that is fun and entertaining, but had nowhere near the power of "Ryan."?

"Chicago"?was a surprise that helped to kickstart the musical craze when it won best picture, but its director Rob Marshall was left out in the cold. Roman Polanski took home the statue, deservedly. "The Pianist" was an amazing film. But it doesn't make a ton of sense when the awards are split like that.

How can a film be declared the best of the year when the director that made it so takes home nothing.

What's the criteria for judging a film as the best picture of the year??Is it story??Cinematography??Acting??A combination of all of them??There's truly no rhyme or reason to it. The only sure bet is that the academy loves mentally handicapped people and period dramas.

So don't fret. Although the movie you wanted to win might not, know that in the long run, it doesn't matter. While it could go unnoticed today, tomorrow it could develop an entirely new life. Upon its release, Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" drew mixed reviews. Now critics hail it as one of his best. The same thing goes for "The Shining."

There's no accounting for taste and falling into an argument because someone thinks a movie is better than another is inconsequential.

We're all entitled to our opinions and even though some people are placed in the higher ranks of film criticism, it doesn't mean their opinion is an unstoppable force. It's just a louder one.

 
 

 

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