76th Academy Awards: Call Me Oscar the Grouch
by Michael Walls
me Oscar the Grouch, because after staying up past midnight,
on a school night, to watch the Academy Awards this year,
that’s how I felt the next day.
The Oscars have been getting out of hand for years now,
but after this year’s show, I’m officially
through with them. It has become nothing more than a gigantic
PR show for Hollywood’s flavors-of-the-year, publicity
for the DVD market, and shameless photo fodder for every
entertainment TV show and newsstand magazine. It has nothing
to do will excellence in filmmaking or acting or art in
Unlike past years, I actually saw 3 out of the 5 movies
nominated for Best Picture. And all three deserved to
be nominated. But, considering Lord of the Rings
didn’t even register a best acting nominee (acting
and writing being the two critical elements in any film
to be considered “art” in my book), I’m
not sure what criteria the “academy” used
to select it as the best movie of the year. I certainly
enjoyed it, but thought Seabiscuit and Master
and Commander had better acting.
Putting aside the “acting” element, I understand
that the technical side of filmmaking is finally (and
justifiably) being recognized, and is probably the basis
by which Lord of the Rings made a clean sweep
of the Oscars. But, how is it that Lord of the Rings,
a tremendous epic trilogy, requiring thousands of artists,
professionals, general production personnel, years and
years of shooting and post-production, and costing truck
loads of studio money – wins the prestigious and
coveted Oscar, then has to stand in the same room next
to a guy named Adam Elliot who has just won a similar-looking
statue for a short animated film named Harvie Krumpet?
Talk about diluting the Oscar gene pool. No offense to
Mr. Elliot – I’m sure Harvie Krumpet
is a delightful little stop-motion film. But, crips
– what a downer for a guy like Pete Jackson. Imagine
walking around at the after-party with your “Best
Director” Oscar for Lord of the Rings tucked
under your arm and bumping into Adam Elliot with his Oscar
in hand. “Oh...hey there Elliot. Uh...congratulations
on...uh...Davie Krumpet was it?”
Doesn’t seem right.
Another question. Are we rewarding art or entertainment?
It doesn’t matter to me – I’m just asking.
I believe art can be entertaining and entertainment can
be art. I guess I’m just wondering why “comedy”
(which is entertainment) is never really considered “Oscar”
material. Is “comedy” not “art?”
It seems the way the Academy Awards work, comedy actors
need to put out a serious dramatic role in order to be
considered a nominee for an Oscar. Examples are Robin
Williams and Tom Hanks, and this year’s classic
comedic actor-turned-serious Oscar nominee, Bill Murray.
Bill should have been nominate in 1980 for his portrayal
of the shell-shocked greens keeper, Carl Spackler in Caddyshack.
That performance was absolute Oscar material if there
ever was one. No one could have pulled off that role but
Murray. Try to imagine highly regarded and serious actors
such as Redford, or Newman, or Connery, or Pacino playing
the role of Spackler. Couldn’t be done. But because
“comedy” isn’t considered accomplishing
or artful – Bill Murray needs to jump genres to
get recognized by the “Academy.”
Next, let’s talk about hypocrisy, shall we? I know
a lot of actors and Hollywood people get involved in politics
and social issues and feel that they can help make a difference
in the world because of their high public profile and
social status. And guys like Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and
Susan Sarandon, like to get their digs in and spout off
about what people should do to make a difference. Well,
going to Academy Awards for these people is like a priest
hitting a strip bar on the way home from church.
Aside from the growing belief that the Oscars are becoming
corrupt because of the tremendous commercial incentives
(movie studios actively campaign for their movies and
stars as if they were presidential candidates), the amount
of money thrown around on the day of the Academy Awards
is shameful. This year’s gluttonous perks included
$100,000 worth of goodies for all nominees.
So Sean Penn and Tim Robbins walk off with an Oscar each,
plus a bag full of useless and frivolous items (such as
a vacation package to New Zealand and a diamond studded
bra from Victoria’s Secret) totaling $100K. Tim
likes to talk about victims of domestic violence, yet
his liquidated gift bag could feed a welfare family for
If they were serious about their “causes”
they would strive to change this gaudy extravaganza.
Lastly, let's talk about the show itself. It’s too
long. Come on – let’s be honest – 99%
of the viewing population only care about 7 of the awards.
Best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress,
best picture, best director and best screenplay. And even
more honest, the simpletons don’t even care about
the director and screenplay.
The rest of the awards are annoying background noise,
time fillers to drag out the show, give obligatory nods
to the behind-the-scenes people – that no one knows,
cares to know, or will ever remember.
“…and the award for Best Sound Editing
Uh...good time to use the bathroom – maybe
swing by the fridge and pick up some ice cream.
do they bother? I mean, I appreciate the technical people
and believe they deserve awards. I appreciate them and
often respect them more then these snotty movie stars.
But honestly – nobody likes to listen to a geeky
sound and visual effect genius, who doesn’t get
out of his dark room and mingle with the public often.
I’m not watching the Oscars for them. I’m
watching the Oscars to see which high-profile movie star
makes a jackass out of themselves, or to get a few chuckles
from Billy Crystal’s banter, or to see who wins
the big seven. So, why make me wait until midnight?
you what we need next year. Start off with a 45-minute,
red carpet show, lots of skin, lots of borderline 7-second
delay edit moments, followed by a 5-minute Billy Crystal
opening, then 30 minutes of blubbering acceptance speeches
from pre-selected winners (the drama of the envelope is
passé), and a 5-minute Billy Crystal closing. That’s
it. This way 99% of the population gets what they came
to see, we can all be tucked into bed and sleeping by
10pm Eastern Time, and we can be refreshed and happy the
next day around the office water cooler.
Walls is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine)