Why bad things can happen to good movies

By Julie Hirshan | jhirshan@flagler.edu

The Oscars selection process, like so many other things in life, isn’t fair.

Every year when the nominations come out, I am always surprised by which movies and actors have been nominated and which have been left out. I think that certain movies are deemed Oscar-worthy right from the start, while others are eliminated before they are even released.

It has a lot to do with certain people attached to certain movies. Famous directors usually get their movies automatically nominated in at least a few categories, and big-name stars tend to dominate the nomination lists.

These seem to be the same people who are nominated every year, and with few exceptions it is easy to guess in advance who’s going to be taking home the statue.

There are movies that seem to be nominated in every category. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button could win in any of 13 categories, from acting to sound mixing. How can a movie possibly be that perfect? Also, why can’t we save some room for other movies that aren’t amazing in every way? Movies that stand out in just editing or visual effects or sound mixing can’t compete with a giant like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button if it’s nominated in every conceivable category, save for animated feature.

Comedies and musicals are mostly overlooked, except with nominations for things like music. Acting in these types of movies can only be recognized with nominations for supporting actors, like Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder this year.

Some of the movies on the list I won’t even be able to see before the awards show. Slumdog Millionaire, with nominations in 10 categories, originally opened in limited release in American movie theaters. Most others haven’t hit the DVD racks yet, so if you missed them the first time around when you didn’t realize they were going to be Oscar-worthy, you have to wait until after the award show on Feb. 22 and wonder what everyone else thinks is so great about them.

And this year, unfortunately, I think that there has been too much hype surrounding The Dark Knight, specifically because of Heath Ledger’s death. I did enjoy the movie, but I’m not sure that it would have gotten so much attention otherwise. Now I’m afraid that the Academy just nominated him as a courtesy and isn’t really taking him seriously as a contender for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Either that or they’re just going to automatically give it to him because they don’t want to be seen as thinking ill of the deceased.

But after I get worked up about some of these things, I have to keep in mind that these awards are not popularity contests based on the opinions of the American public in general, but rather recognition for achievement based on the votes of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They have been doing this for a long time, and they get to make the choices. I just wish their views aligned with mine more often.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Why bad things can happen to good movies"

Leave a comment