Friday, February 12, 2010

And Then There Were Ten...

As I’m sure you can tell by now, Magglio and I have a much different approach to this blog. I like to research a topic, think about it all from all angles, write slowly and edit carefully. Magglio likes to just post, post, post, keep our traffic numbers up and get more and more people reading the blog so everyone will rub his ass and tell him it’s special. What does this have to do with anything? Actually nothing, but he can be a little bitch, huh?

Anyway, one of the predominant questions I’ve been getting over email and in the comments is: “hey, Jericho, why haven’t you reacted to the Oscar nominations yet?” So I’m going to do that today. Why? So you’ll rub my ass and tell me it’s special. I mean, come on, I’m obviously a bitch too, but not like Magglio, that guy’s a fucking bitch. He’s like the Brad Pitt of bitches and I’m more like Channing Tatum. I digress.

One of the craziest things about having a blog is that sometimes I can’t remember if I posted about a certain topic or just ranted about it in private to friends. For example, I fucking hate that the Oscars expanded to 10 best picture nominees (reasons why to come in a second) and have been vehemently protesting against the move since it was announced. When I got the idea for this post, I went to A&M and searched around for the entry where I railed against the new format. To my surprise, it didn’t exist. So maybe this is the first time I’m putting these thoughts to paper, but trust me when I say that nothing is new here, the Academy shit the bed and I've been angrily sleeping in it for months.

Before we get into this, a quick preface: I realize how ridiculous this looks on paper, after all is said and done the Oscars is just a fucking TV show, but it aspires and portends to be so much more and saps like me buy in. If anything, the Oscars succeed because it manages to transcend the “it’s just an award show” mentality, we care about them; we regard Oscar winners with a sense of nobility and accomplishment; in short: the Oscars matter. When they diverge from that course and do something so obviously whore-ish, it affects the validity of the whole thing. They turn it back into a TV show. Maybe that’s at the root of my frustration; we all ignored the elephant in the room and refused to pull back the curtain to see the strings; now the Academy has done that for us. Okay, I’m down from my horse, let’s break this down, here are the 3 big reasons why I hate this decision:

1. It's All About The Benjamins
They are diluting a proven process purely to boost ratings. History has proven that the numbers of viewers increase proportionate to the popularity of that year’s films. When a lot of people see and love a movie they watch the show and pull for their favorites to win. It’s no coincidence that the highest watched telecast was in 1997 (Titanic, Good Will Hunting, As Good As It Gets, cumulative box office of nominees = $1 billion). More films means = higher cumulative box office + more starts attending show = higher ratings. It’s that simple. I don’t like it, but it’s easy to dissect their logic.

2. Yeah, But What About Those Pesky Screener Things
Expanding the number of nominees doesn’t address the fundamental problem with the nomination and voting process: there is no way to verify that every member has seen every film in question. Every year, the Academy will send 25 or so movies out to its body, they watch the films and then fill out a nomination form, the votes are tallied and the nominations announced. How do we know that each member has watched every film? I honestly don’t know how they address this but it’s a major problem and adding more films to the mix seems to make this even more complicated.

3. The Fucking Blind Side? An Education? Precious? Fuck You?
Finally, and this is the biggest problem in my opinion: what if there aren’t 10 movies worth nominating? In the irony of ironies, they are introducing the new rules this year to make amends for last year when two enormously popular and successful movies were passed over (The Dark Knight and Wall-E); except for the fact that this has been a fairly underwhelming year for movies. Look at the list:

- Avatar
- The Blind Side
- District 9
- An Education
- The Hurt Locker
- Inglourious Basterds
- Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
- A Serious Man
- Up
- Up in the Air

Other than Avatar, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds, is there anything we’ll be discussing 5 years from now? Isn’t that what a best pic is supposed to do? To illustrate this point, I did a little research and in my opinion, only 4 times in the last 20 years did we have a year good enough to validate having 10 pictures nominated.

Here they are, the films are listed in no particular order:

Good Night and Good Luck
Walk The Line
A History of Violence
Constant Gardener
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale
The Upside of Anger

Million Dollar Baby
Finding Neverland
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine
The Incredibles
Before Sunset
Man on Fire

Good Will Hunting
As Good As It Gets
LA Confidential
Boogie Nights
The Apostle
Wag The Dog
Jackie Brown
Donnie Brasco
The Game

Forrest Gump
Pulp Fiction
Legends of the Fall
Nobody’s Fool
The Paper
The Lion King
Quiz Show
Ed Wood
Bullets Over Broadway

A few thoughts before I wind this down:
- 4 out of 20? Looking forward to batting .200 for the next few years, Academy?
- How good were 1994 and 1997? Holy shit those were good years for film.
- Yes, I don’t have the 2005 winner, Crash, on that list. That movie sucks.
- Will I watch the Oscars this year even though I just spent 1,000 words killing their new gimmick? If you don’t know answer then clearly you aren’t rubbing my ass enough. Now come on, tell me it’s special. Please.



Anonymous said...

Do you think The Game has aged well? I remember it being such a crazy concept back then, but how would it show these days?

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Casey Lewis said...

Do I think The Game has aged well? Sorta. Any movie that relies on a major twist will get watered down the more you watch it, but the the concept, direction and editing are so good that it definitely belongs in this conversation. The better question: should The Game have been nominated for best picture over The Full Monty? Um, fucking A yes. Fuck the Full Monty. I wouldn't fuck it with your dick.