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Concerning the Oscars....


Good Morning My Confidants....


There are a lot of you out there who seem to be pretty bitter about them...or at least say surprisingly nasty things about something that can easily ignored. I don't I never paid the least bit of attention to sports ball until the Chiefs started doing so well. And even now I don't watch it ever. There really is a lot of nasty things I could say about it, but why go there? I just don't care.


So why so much ire and disdain? Why are awards that people don't care about so much on their minds?


For years and years and years, especially when I was young, and when I was in my teens, the Academy Awards drove me crazy. Nothing I wanted to win ever won.


I would get so mad, screaming at the TV. And I believed what everyone else was saying, that the Oscars are all rigged or were popularity contests or whatever they were blah-blah-blahing about. In fact, I had heard many times that actors and actresses campaigned to win.


I was mad that One Million Years B.C. wasn't nominated, what movie could possibly be better than that one? I mean, it was "...a roaring box office success, whilst simultaneously making Raquel Welch an iconic poster girl and Ray Harryhausen an even bigger hero."* In my 6-year-old mind, it should have won Best Picture.


And it had a Pteranodon, for goodness sake! Did the Academy of Motion Pictures see that? A Pteranodon! If that wasn't enough to win the gold, it fought a Rhamphorhynchus! Mid-air! Holding a cave girl (although I, for some strange and at that time unknown reason was looking at the nearly naked cavemen rather than the girl in the tiny fur bikini). Certainly, that was far better than The Sound of Music or Doctor Zhivago, right?


(Funny things is, that I absolutely loved The Sound of Music and had the soundtrack at five years old—how did no one know I was gay? LOL!)


Or how about Jaws? My 15-year-old-self thought it deserved the Best Picture far more than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Nashville, right? I was sooooo mad! Rigged! It was rigged! And how distressing, when I actually saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, that I recognized, even at fifteen, how powerful it was--although I wasn't mature enough to deal with its ending.


Now, I do think it is possibly that a lot of campaigning has been done through the years when it came to voting time. Studios, for instance, that could afford to send copies of their movies out to the entire Academy, because many voters—because of what they did for a living—had time to go out and see the nominees. How many people must have voted for a film or actor or actress (etc) because that film they watched at home was one of the only ones they saw.


Thing is, the Academy Awards started falling under more and more criticism and viewership started going down more and more each year, getting to a place where most people didn't give a shit who was even nominated, let alone won.


A number of years ago—2009 at least—a lot of changes started being made, the least of those changes being that they increased the number Best Picture nominees from five to ten. "The best picture Oscar has historically been won by deep, meaningful, often independent fare, and these are certainly movies worthy of such fanfare. With limited spaces for Oscar nominations, though, this has given rise to concerns about elitism and popular movies perhaps being too "mainstream" for the big prize. Awards Daily suggests that the iconic The Dark Knight missing out on a nomination—and the discourse and outrage that followed—prompted this change." *


But it is my belief that by that time, the damage had been done. I mean, Brokeback Mountain didn't win for Best Picture? And Crash did? Crash? Really? Did anybody even see that movie, let alone think it should have won Best Picture? (personally, I thought it was very that made-for-TV-quality and certainly didn't deserve the title, especially win the other nominees included Capote and Munich)


But here is my point of this entire essay...the Oscars have changed. A lot.


And my perspective really changed when about 23 years ago, and I was living alone, and worked at a place very close to a huge theater, and I started going to a lot of movies (I would go every other Friday when it was my turn to get off early, and I would see as many as three or four movies in one night!), I began to notice a trend. Bit by bit, especially since 2009, that I had to agree—although sometimes reluctantly, that almost everyone or everything that was winning...deserved it.


Because once the nominees started becoming more and more worthy, and not just a popularity contest, and once I started making sure that I saw as many nominees as possible (the ones had hadn't already seen), I was seeing something I hadn't expected.


By going to see all the nominees, I was going to movies that "weren't my type." Or at least what I (or anyone who knows me) would have thought was my type. I mean, I hate subtitled films! SO MUCH! Because half that time the line of script is off the screen before I have a chance to read it—and I am a pretty fast reader—and because if I am busy reading the lines, I can't watch the actor's expressions.


But the movie Amélie blew...me...away! I left the theater floating at least a foot off the ground. It changed me. And had it not been nominated for Best Picture, I would never have seen it!


Suddenly, my repertoire of movies was being expanded. My mind was opening to all kinds of movies, tropes, countries, story-telling techniques, and far more. I had always been a movie lover. But I was becoming a film lover.


Suddenly I was clearly seeing that a nominee for Best Pictures means all the aspect of the movie, and not just which story did I like best. A Best Picture nominee means that not only was it entertaining to watch, but we saw the underpinning of why we (perhaps) unconsciously loved a movie all the more: the editing, production design, sound, makeup and hairstyling, costuming, and far more—not even counting the acting and direction—that altogether make a BEST Picture.


And while that can be endless debate about that, I admit—yes sometimes begrudgingly when there is a movie I really want to win—that movies like Green Book might have deserved it (over my choice of A Star is Born or Bohemian Rapsody) or The Shape of Water (or my very fervent desire for Call Me by Your Name) or Spotlight (instead of The Martain) or 12 Years a Slave (over Gravity). And everyone one of these winners are movies I would never have seen, or at least probably wouldn't have seen, if not for their nominations.


Although I do admit I wasn't a big fan of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) or Moonlight or Parasite (at least for "Best") and I think inside of ten years, no one will even remember them, but they certainly will remember A Star is Born or Black Panther or Dune).


My point is, for every person who lovingly tells me in vivid detail why they hate the Academy Awards (which is of course "yucking my yum" if I made the post people are commenting on), I come to see that in their reasons they, 1) haven't seen most of the movies, 2) have no desire to see most of the movies, or, 3) are pissed like 15-year-old-Ben not winning for Jaws because their favorite movie that year (and possibly the only movie they even saw).


I disagree with everyone who says it's all rigged, that it is a popularity contest, or worse.


The Academy Awards were created to recognize excellence in film-making, and they are nominated by their peers. Their fellow directors and producers and actors and actresses are nominating movies and performances of their fellows and to honor them.


So for everyone who hates the Oscars?


I guess really don't care.


Because I don't like (I try not to waste emotional and mental and spiritual energy on hating anything or anyone) watching football or reality shows or cars or Hawaiin pizza or cats (although I love other people's cats) or video games or tarantulas or looking at pictures people post of their open wounds.


This is a big beautiful world filled to overflowing with all kinds of things and we can all love and appreciate whatever appeals to us.


My biggest reason for even writing this was to give my thoughts to a lot of the naysayers and their reasons for naysaying. My counter point so to speak.


And just to share something that I really love.


Because that's what my blog is about after all!


And it's why I am learning bit by bit, when I see someone post about something that isn't my cup of tea to simply keep my opinion to myself—except I really do wish people would put spiders and blood down in comments so people can see them if they want to and don't have to be SHOCKED when such disturbing images appear on the screen, especially when they haven't had their coffee yet. It's quite a shock! I mean, people have to know that a majority of people don't like to look at either and it's not something that you can just scroll on by.


But that is a horse of a different color and a whole different essay!


So until next time...what do you love?


I'd love to know.


Namaste,

BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas



** The Real Reason the Oscars Expanded the Best Picture Field from 5 to 10 Possible Nominations: https://www.grunge.com/774727/the-real-reason-the-oscars-expanded-the-best-picture-field-from-5-to-10-possible-nominations/





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Great post. You have challenged yourself and grown so often. There are lots of years the film that is the longest lived or best made or most popular doesn’t win. The biggest problem I believe was that the Academy wasn’t getting younger or diverse members but in recent years they have pushed for that which is really bringing diversity. The expansion of Best Picture to 10 exasperates the issue of left out actors and directors because they still only have five nominees but that would most likely always happen.


I’ve had many head scratching moments but I don’t bet, vote or work in the industry. If I’ve seen a film it always makes a win and acceptance speech sweeter. Every…


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For no particular reason, I stopped watching the Oscars some years ago. Now that I think about it, I may start again! I do love looking through the winner's lists to see if there's movies I may have overlooked that are worth seeing. We don't go to theaters for first run movies (I have reasons, alas) so there's usually a LOT to catch up on!

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Will Jones
Will Jones
07. Feb.

It seems pretty simple. If someone doesn't like the Oscar's, or anything really, then don't watch them. No reason to deride others who do enjoy them.

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