Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars: Winner vs Worthy


So past Oscar nights have definitely had their ups and downs, their tight races, those wondrous dark horse runners, and those obvious wins and upsets. And it's no secret that politics and current events play a role on the academy's votes. But what about those slightly obscure points that factor into the voter's bids? The actor's overall likability, tallying up the past nominations, and even pity for losses that should have been wins?

Now, the Oscars are annual awards that focus on the previous year in film-making, and they recognize and reward spectacular achievements in that year's films alone. In other words, these awards are not meant to mark lifetime achievements, overall career successes, or impressive resumes that have been built up over decades. It doesn't matter how great you were in a film made 5 years ago, or that you were great in the last 20 movies you've made. You can still lose. It doesn't even matter that it may be the first film you've ever made, or that your career up until then was blown to bits by box office bombs. If you have one moment in one picture where you were undeniably fantastic, you are eligible to be nominated and even win. At least, that's the way it should be.

No one can fully eliminate the human margin of error in voting. Many of us even make the awards' season mistake of casting our own personal votes for actors we favor, either because we loved all their other films or just because they seem nice. We've also thrown out votes for those actors who irritated us once in that film they made 20 years ago or because they've simply gotten in trouble in their personal lives and have lost our respect. Sometimes we think people should win simply because they've been nominated so many times in the past, we scream "will someone PLEASE just give them one??" We rarely can watch a film objectively and freely hand out accolades for those who truly deserve it. So can we, in all seriousness, expect the academy to be able to vote with 100% objectivity, every year?

The discussion circulating the WWW this year was whether or not Sandra Bullock deserved to win, despite her being the front-runner fave. Now I haven't seen the Blind Side personally, but I will say I've been rooting for Sandra simply because I do love her, she's got that awesome personality that makes you feel like you could be BFFs if you only had the chance to hang out. She's made some great films in the past, and made some flops, for which she won a Razzie and showed up in person to humbly accept her award; which by the way, makes us love her more. But is her performance Oscar-worthy? Meryl is her main competition, whom, having actually seen Julie and Julia, I feel she is, as usual, O-W. Not to mention the fabulous underdog, Gabby from Precious who has virtually been buried and forgotten this year as Sandra and Meryl ping-pong award honors back and forth betwixt themselves. So with the Oscars literally just moments away as I write this, will the favorite or the worthy take home the golden naked man this time?

Favorites who don't necessarily deserve to win take it home all the time. The 2002 Oscars began a minor-chain reaction when Halle Berry won for best actress for Monster's Ball over Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Despite the obvious favor of drama over musical, at the risk of sounding racist, it was no coincidence that Berry won as the first African American woman alongside Denzel Washington for best actor, during an evening which included an honorary Oscar for Sidney Poitier. However, though many felt Kidman was snubbed, no one was willing to badmouth the first best actress award for a black woman, or mention that Whoopi Goldberg should have been the vessel for that moment years ago in The Color Purple. Since Kidman lost, she got what I like to call the Pity Oscar for her role in The Hours the following year (Goldberg received her Pity Oscar for Ghost). Don't get me wrong, Kidman was fantastic in the film, but Oscar worthy? Technically she didn't even qualify for Best Actress, given she had less on-screen time than her co-stars Streep and Julianne Moore, who were both shoved into the Supporting Actress category. Of course, Kidman's pity win pushed Renee Zellweger out of her deserving win for Chicago. So naturally Renee received her Pity Oscar the following year for Cold Mountain. Again she was fantastic in the film, I love Renee and I loved the movie, but some thought Shohreh Aghdashloo should've won for The House of Sand and Fog. Unfortunately she didn't have a high profile film the following year to receive her Pity Oscar and thus lopped off the chain of Oscar compensation.

Others have obviously won due to those lovely politics or agendas: An Inconvenient Truth thanks to global warming crises, Sean Penn in Milk, thanks to the recent Gay Human Rights Movement, pretty much any movie involving the Holocaust (yes Kate Winslet won partly because it was a Holocaust movie, partly because she has been nominated 6 times in the past, and partly because she was awesome).

Will we ever get to a point where we can vote for those sole performances, despite politics, current events, personal feelings, and providing compensation for screwing actors out of rightful awards because of these issues? I'll be rooting for Sandra tonight, but I will own the fact that I am totally biased, and part of me wants her to lose so I can simply be proven wrong that Oscar is in fact, just and fair. Time will tell.

1 comment:

Dee said...

I haven't seen many of the movies you mentioned but I agree, Kidman should have won for Moulin Rouge. She was fabulous. That was a sad year for the Oscars. People who should have won were pushed away. I love Halle but no, she shouldn't have walked away with so much that year.

I've given up on these award things just for the reasons you cite. It's a political game now. Not awards based on merit. It used to be. But as many things in this world today the "should be" isn't the actuality.