JAWS is, clearly, the more well-regarded and recognizable film today, but it losing the 1975 Best Picture race to Milos Forman’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST isn’t a complete travesty. While only one of those movies is credited with creating the concept of the ‘summer blockbuster’ (think large mechanical shark) both films are magnificent — and beloved — examples of quality moviemaking. You may, however, be surprised to learn that JAWS director Steven Spielberg and actor Robert Shaw (Quint) failed to even be nominated by the Academy for their work.
The only consistent guarantee when it comes to Oscar nominations — outside of Meryl Streep — has been the arguments for, or against them.
Is ANNIE HALL a better film than STAR WARS? Was SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE a greater achievement than SAVING PRIVATE RYAN? How about TITANIC over L.A. CONFIDENTIAL? And can anyone honestly tell me that 2005’s CRASH (or DRIVING MISS DAISY, or THE KING’S SPEECH) is worthy of all the praise it received?
Art is subjective, but, more importantly, the Academy Awards have long been known for their issues — political, and otherwise — when regarding the nominees and eventual winners. Organized fear of communism and socialism derailed some potential victories in the distant past, many stars have received ‘make-up’ wins for earlier oversights, and, quite arguably, there is more than one current Best Picture nominee that is a statement rather than an acknowledgement.
Because judging works of art against each other is not an exact science, the Oscars have a long history of questionable wins that do not hold up against the test of time. You know, GOODFELLAS didn’t win Best Picture (DANCES WITH WOLVES did). And FORREST GUMP beat out PULP FICTION and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. It’s easy to remember how Marisa Tomei had to deal with unfortunate (and tasteless) rumors that her 1993 Best Supporting Actress win for MY COUSIN VINNY was a mistake, but we seem to forget ‘suspect’ wins by Jack Nicholson (AS GOOD AS IT GETS) and ORDINARY PEOPLE (it. beat. RAGING BULL).
[For the record, Ms. Tomei is a goddamn goddess in that movie, and deserves every bit of credit for the testimony scene alone; regardless if I fell in love with her on A DIFFERENT WORLD. Fight me.]
While we might hope for the best performances and productions to be honored, nominations and wins often go to the savviest marketing campaigns (this was the other thing Harvey Weinstein was known for in Hollywood). There was a time before Miramax became a major player when independent films couldn’t truly compete against major studio efforts. And, now, we all get to awkwardly ignore that step forward.
I expected BLACK PANTHER to be the first title announced last Tuesday morning, but I was rather shocked to see BLACKkKLANSMAN alphabetically take that honor. You could make an argument for Spike Lee’s first accessible movie in awhile, I guess, but as strange as it was to see those Best Picture nominations, laughter ensued as soon as BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY joined the crowd. It’s not that I think they are terrible (or even bad) movies, but it was more of a reminder how little I/we should care about the night Hollywood pats itself on the back.
Enjoy the show and pageantry, but don’t worry or get upset when it comes to the winners and losers. Much like what ends up on the big screen, it’s all just an illusion.
Stop taking things so seriously… they are MOVIES. Mindless or not, message or not, they are just meant to be entertaining everyday distractions that take money out of our wallets. So, relax a little.
But, really, BLACK PANTHER getting nominated is a fucking joke.