I hate Academy Awards, but I love the Academy Awards. Let me clarify, I hate the awards given out, but I love the show itself. This watch what you want when you want era leaves only a precious few “event” programming left. Outside of the Super Bowl, which is the event to end all events, the Oscars falls into the next category as far as having eyeballs watching at the same time. In fact, with worldwide audiences, it is actually more people watching at the same time.
The best part of events is that it gives us a collective sense of humanity. It makes us feel connected to something larger than our individual lives. Life makes it difficult to get together with large groups of friends. We all have our own goals to accomplish and things that we want to do, which makes coordinating with large groups difficult. I’ve come to realize that if you want to plan something, just plan it. It is a fool’s errand to try to get all your friends on board. However, events such as the Super Bowl and the Oscars are appointment viewing. It is something everyone marks on their calendar and makes sure to keep clear. I attended a lovely viewing party last night and the best part of the program was not Pharell’s performance, Jared Leto’s speech, or the McConnaissance completed. As great as those things were, the best part was just being around friends, eating good food, making snarky comments, and sharing some laughs. These moments become more rare as we get older, so it is important to appreciate them.
As for the part I hate, the awards. The whole concept of handing out awards for films is difficult. It creates a sense of competition and gives the awards an inflated sense of importance. Excellent films, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The awards are just the subjective opinions of a group of people. Yes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is dedicated to the film industry, but does that make their opinions greater than a farmer from Kansas named Clete? It seems easy to say yes, but the rest of the year that farmer’s opinion is the most important because he decides if something is good enough to shell of $10 to see in the theaters and if it was good enough to then buy on DVD. He is the one that helps fuel the entire industry, for film is a consumer product.
The Academy Awards is an industry circle jerk. Hollywood patting itself on the back for being so awesome. It successfully has made the public feel like these awards matter that a film or performer needs it for validation. Twitter and half our viewing party nearly exploded when Leonardo Dicaprio was shut out of winning an Academy Award, again. Personally, I was happy McConaughey. I also enjoy seeing Dicaprio lose because I know how much he wants to win. This desire to capture an Academy Award represents everything that I’ve come to despise about them. See what Leo and his fans fail to recognize is that winning that Award doesn’t change his career or make any of his performances better. One of the greatest directors of all-time, Alfred Hitchcock, never won an Academy Award. Does that make Vertigo, North by Northwest, or Rear Window less amazing? Absolutely not, plenty of people recognize the great skill he deplored in creating those magnificent thrillers.
Dicaprio has had a brilliant career and a golden statuette will not make it any better, but we’ve been programmed to believe that it is essential to being the best. Look, Adrien Brody has a best actor Academy Award and I’m sure he would trade it in a heartbeat for Dicaprio’s career. Film is not like sports. It is not a competition, but rather a collaboration. Winning awards is not essential to validating careers in the same way championships in sports are. Sure, we love to see our favorites win, but just because the majority of the Academy does not agree with our opinion of who is or what is the best does not diminish it. Therefore, during future Academy Awards Shows, lets all sit back, enjoy each other’s company, make snarky comments, and watch the show. If your favorite wins, great, but if not, so what, it’s just a silly trophy anyway.