Some Thoughts About the Oscars...
Everyone that knows me, knows that I am a movie buff. Truth be told, if I was not in the music business, I would almost assuredly have to be in the movie business. Even if I was the janitor at Pixar or some other major studio, to be around this art form that has always fascinated me would definitely be in my life cards. In looking at why this is, the answer is rather obvious.
No, it is not the fame or the chance to be around beautiful people all of the time, although I must say, that does sound appealing. But rather, it is the collaboration that sounds most exciting, as working on something together rather than working on something alone has always been the best part of any artform to me. This is why I tune into the Oscars, because unlike every other televised awards show, the Oscars show all of the other awards, i.e. writing, makeup, costuming, editing, every technical field award that otherwise would never see the light of day on any other program. No one knows who these people really are. They are not the stars we read about in the papers. None the less, they all contributed to the bigger picture. They all collaborated on something together. They all are artists
There were some great moments last night, but I do have one big beef to pick, and no it is not the one that everyone is talking about. Here are some thoughts about last night’s Oscars.
1. The Oscars are not going to last on network television much longer. Of all of the yearly programming television events, the Oscars are by far the worst in terms of ratings. This of course was the reasoning behind many of the problems associated with this year’s telecast. Ratings equates to money, a lot of money in fact. I read that the average commercial for the Oscars cost around 2.6 million dollars to air. This is on par with the Super Bowl, an event that attracts more than three times the audience. There is simply too much available good content on t.v. these days for people to care about a bunch of Hollywood celebrities wearing expensive clothes, looking beautiful and congratulating themselves. Furthermore, the fact that producers have not figured out that Sunday night viewing might not be the best to attract the most viewers, is astounding. Here are a couple of suggestions for the Academy. First, try moving the show to a different day of the week where it is not competing against new episodes of the best television shows for any network. Secondly, try moving the show to a new platform like Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix. This would be a gamechanger and I am willing to bet that within a few years we will see this happen.
2. The academy still has a big problem of playing it safe, and a couple of the awards stood out to me as staying in the SHALLOW. (you see what I did there?). There were actual boos in the audience when best editing was announced for the winner, Bohemian Rhapsody. I even gasped at this announcement, telling my wife this was lame, considering the other nominees were leaps and bounds bigger feats in the editing department. Editing, for anyone that knows film, is truly what makes any film work, as the editing process has the power to make a film truly great or really terrible. A great example of this is the David Fincher cut of Alien 3, a completely different edited and much better film than the chosen 21stCentury Fox studio version. So, while I am sure most people did not notice or care about this award, most people in the biz know that this was the popular choice not the right choice. This idea speaks to the best picture category and how the Academy of Motion Pictures screwed up again in picking the safe pick, not the right pick. Will this picture stand the test of time and stack up as a classic? Doubtful. In fact, I would argue that almost every other film would stack up better over time than Green Book. But, just like Dances with Wolves beating Goodfellas, Forrest Gump beating Pulp Fiction or even The Shawshank Redemption, Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan or Crash beating Brokeback Mountain, the academy simply has not learned from its mistakes and probably will continue making the same mistakes.
3. This ceremony proved to be the most diverse across all categories in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and age. Yet, this may be the most controversial ceremony in recent memory because apparently the wrong picture won best picture causing multiple people to get up and walk out before speeches were delivered, one of them being Spike Lee. All things considered, can we not agree that regardless of feeling about the situation that there is a thing called class. Go ahead and add in professionalism, graciousness, and collegiality parts while we are at it. That the decent thing to do above all in this highly watched situation was to lose gracefully, and that many people in the audience did not, is very telling of the place we are today. When most speeches preached acceptance and being a decent human being, this spectacle was anything but.
4. Which brings me to my biggest beef about the Oscars this year. The biggest shocker left out of the race this year, just so happened to be my favorite movie of the year. And, it was a documentary none the less; a documentary detailing the life of a true American hero, artist, innovator, and human being. I am talking about Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary about Fred Rogers, a man responsible for the creation of PBS and for all of us that grew up with him, a chance to be liked, understood, listened to, and loved. He brought an awareness to the importance of childhood development, that launched into American conciseness the deepness of human interaction, stemming from love, patience, grace, and understanding. This man grew up as a minster and his life mission was the care for children. How many people do you know in the entirety of your life grow up this way, with this vision? Being a parent myself, and losing my father this year, I wept watching this film that at its core was about human decency or doing unto others as they would do unto you; the golden rule of life. And yet, this film wasn’t scandalous enough or offer an edgier subject matter for the Academy, even though the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards, it won Best Documentary Feature to go along with its countless other awards and accolades for the year. Take a gander, and you will see that almost all critics have this film on its end of the year best list, yet, Mr. Rogers was just too damn nice to be included, which ironically was one of his missions in life. His son even suggests that, “It was truly difficult to grow up with Jesus Christ as my father.” Considering where we are in the world today, and how people act towards each other whether it is a scene of celebrities on national television being sore losers, or world leaders showing less character than Gordon Gecko from Wall Street, I think it would have been nice to celebrate the legacy of Fred Rogers at the Oscars, because we truly could use a little Mr. Rogers decency right now. Do yourself a favor and check out my favorite movie for the year. Just make sure you bring some tissues!
If you have not seen these films, do yourself a favor and check them out. They are all good and mostly available through online streaming platforms!
2. First Reformed
3. I’m Sorry to Bother You
4. Leave No Trace
5. You Were Never Really Here
6. Eight Grade