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November 20, 2009


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Also, Frank Zappa hated beer.

Tom Russell

I think you're on to something with your three stages for the American cinephile's process of dealing with movie awards.

And yet, I've often found myself completely unable to get past step one: Pulp Fiction lost to Forrest Gump? Scorsese to the guy who directed Chicago? Oliver! won best picture, but 2001 wasn't even nominated?

Or maybe it's more that I skip back and forth from step one to step three, without every stopping at step two.

Sometimes, I think of the Oscars as some amorphous body with its own dubious but predictable taste. It's kind of like my Grandmother, who is really the sweetest little old lady you'll ever meet, but who considers "Amityville 3-D" a "classic": I can't really see things her way, but I understand her and her taste in film enough to know why she feels that way.

Michael Adams

The worst thing about this award season is that so few films are worthy of any awards. The Oscars' top ten is bound to have some dogs because, well, that's what's out there. Color my excitement level opaque.

Would love to corner some Oscar voter and demand why he voted for Forrest Gump, American Beauty, or Crash. What exactly did he see that made them award worthy.

One of your liveliest and most amusing Topics columns, GK.

Tom Russell

"The worst thing about this award season is that so few films are worthy of any awards."

Which will in theory (fingers crossed) make BASTERDS a shoowin.

Tom Russell

By which, of course, I mean "shoo-in".


The Siren

As others more in-the-know than the Siren have written, Academy voters are mostly old and not very adventuruous. And even the young 'uns often vote for those they like and/or those who employ them or are seen as likely to do so. Some years back the WSJ ran a controversial article where they polled a small group of real voters to try and get Oscar predictions. The most eye-popping revelation wasn't a prediction, it was that Buddy Hackett was an Academy member. I mean him no disrespect and may he rest in peace, but if you close your eyes and imagine Buddy Hackett, in costume for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and voting on every Oscar, it explains a lot.

All the same, an Oscar does matter to most film people I think, as indeed any peer-conferred award would matter to people in that industry. If you spent a lifetime building coffee tables and then got an award from a very exclusive group of coffee-table-builders, you would be happy too.

Thanks for pointing out that How Green Was My Valley is a very good movie. It isn't Citizen Kane, but I think its reputation has suffered unduly because it won that year.

Thanks also for the following line: "Also, suburban housewives think that Antichrist is designed to make hip urban film critics feel better about themselves when they're on their way to have abortions!" which I will probably be laughing about for a long, long time.


Yeah, the Oscars are dumb, but they're dumb fun. I never miss 'em.

Tom: If it makes you feel any better, the guy who directed CHICAGO didn't win. Polanski beat him.

I hope you're right about BASTERDS, but I fear it's award moment may have passed, except for Waltz's inevitable nomination (and win, I hope). Maybe if some critics' groups come through for it.

Tom Russell

J. Bryant: Wow, now I feel like a dummy. :-)

Re: the Academy's make-up, which is, indeed, often old dudes and dudettes. It reminds me of a story I read in one of those trashy film gossip-type books. When confronted the opening of Soderbergh's TRAFFIC (which, like a substantial chunk of the film, is in Spanish), several members of the Academy apparently stopped watching and complained that they had been sent the Spanish-dubbed version by mistake.

Eric Stanton

I have to second the Siren's thoughts re the line about "Antichrist" and its perceived effect on hipster critics en route to their abortions. My office mates were just wondering why I was snorting out loud. Of course the Siren is no mean quipster herself - because if I "imagine Buddy Hackett, in costume for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, voting on every Oscar" it does indeed explain a lot.

So now I'm trying to picture the late Mr Hackett in the throes of a comparative analysis of The Hurt Locker, and A Serious Man, and Inglorious Basterds, and Precious A Film Based on A Novel Titled Push by an Author Named Turquoise Or Something, and who knows what else, and ......I have to say I have a new appreciation for the challenges involved in the Oscar prediction racket.

Shawn Stone

The trailer I saw for NINE today is clearly the opening salvo in the Oscar campaign, because Judi Dench was the only actor shown speaking in the swirling montage of, well, Rob Marshall's idea of what a Fellini movie is. And Fergie got as many close-ups as Kidman.


Weren't the Oscars invented to show that Hollywood was about more than just money and sleaze, they cared about ART and ISSUES too? So the best picture is always something drearily worthy that flatters their perception of themselves as members of "the Academy".

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