Here’s my absolutely 100% guaranteed lock of the night for the upcoming Academy Awards: It will be boring, meaningless, and a waste of time for everyone involved.
I love movies more than most people do. At this stage of my life I could use my accumulated Movie Watcher points to make a down payment on a Toyota Corolla or finance a vacation to Toronto if they would accept my AMC card. I go almost every week and I see everything from indies flicks about gay cowboys eating ice cream to broad romantic comedies where people of a certain gender may or may not be into someone of the other. I read movie blogs all the time. I can usually tell you what new films are coming out on any given Friday without having to consult Fandango.
But for all the love I have for Hollwood’s output, I have an equal amount of scorn for award shows like the Oscars. From the vapid commentary on what the starlets are wearing as they walk down the red carpet to the awkwardly phrased acceptance speeches the entire broadcast strikes me as a supreme waste of time. I’m all for recognizing outstanding work in screenplays, direction, and acting but the whole affair is such an overblown exercise in celebrity obsession. Too much attention goes to dissecting hairstyles and dresses or explaining the dating choices of the attendees and not enough on the actual content of the work that the show is ostensibly designed to recognize.
Hugh Jackman is hosting this year. While I would be hard-pressed to say an unkind word about Wolverine, I don’t know that he can successfully hold the attention of the viewer through the whole broadcast. Past hosts with extensive comedy experience like Jon Stewart and Dave Letterman have had trouble keeping the show moving forward so Jackman will be in good company if he stumbles.
But my problems go beyond annoyance with the pomp and circumstance that surround the ceremony and into the conceptual core. The Academy makes some odd choices in the way it picks nominees, trying to split the difference between rewarding risk-taking heartfelt turns in little seen films like The Visitor and recognizing the Oscar Bait showiness of Artful Roles like Brad Pitt’s portrayal of the titular Benjamin Buttons. But nobody saw the former and the latter was as safe and conventional as it could be. That dichotomy between the unseen and the overseen lies at the heart of why the Academy Awards can never truly become a means of either recognizing the best or rewarding the riskiest.
Add to that the smug, self-congratulatory tone that can’t help but seep out of a four hour telecast of actors honoring themselves and you have a truly unbearable night of television.