The Oscars (And Movies) Are Stuck In Arrested Development

Why do people hate the Oscars? Can someone identify all the gunmen aiming their weapons at people’s heads forcing them to watch the Oscars?

The reason people don’t watch the Oscars anymore is because a lot of Millennials and Gen Xers don’t have access to cable/satellite TV. And they’re not going to pay the $65 a month to watch live TV online. So, what you have is a bunch of Boomers who are mad because many of their actors and celebrities they like are either dead, retired, or not making the caliber movies they once were.

Many people are stuck in the Golden Era of Hollywood where Burt Lancaster, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Cecil B. DeMille, etc. made movies. That era ended a good 50 years ago and since then the Oscars have been doing nothing but rewarding movies focusing on that era. Anyone remember The Artist? It won the Best Picture for 2011 and Best Actor. It was set during the Silent Movie era and was a silent movie in black and white.

When Parasite won Best Picture two years ago, Donald Trump as President criticized it and said he liked more of the old fashioned movies. It was typical. No one really wants to acknowledge that blockbusters can be well made and well respected. Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the Oscars in 2017 and 2018, said the problem is voters looked at Don’t Look Up with Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio and selected that but went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home instead.

And he said that Spider-Man was a well reviewed and well liked movie that made a fortune. So, why was it excluded? Simple, it’s the Frasier effect, which was common with the Emmys about 20-25 years where they continued to award Frasier even though the show was not as well as it once was during its first few years. I also looked at it as an issue common in Chamber of Commerce award banquets were there’s a dozen or so civic leaders who keep being recognized. And if you’ve ever been to one of those banquets, you know they’re dull.

The Emmys refused to acknowledge cable TV shows at one time. But now, it seems that’s all they do acknowledge. The Big Networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) seemed to be the equivalent of the B-movies or straight-to-home-video markets. Sitcoms and dramas only on cable or streaming services are recognized. The Emmys went as far as nominate Ellen Burstyn for what was a cameo about 14 seconds in the HBO TV movie Mrs. Harris. This caused a lot of controversy as it showed the Emmys were voting more on name recognition.

But the Oscars were once a sign of glamour and prestige. Now, it’s buried in an endless sea of award shows. You have the Emmys, the Grammys, the Screen Actor Guild Awards, the Tonis, the Obies, the Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the People Choice Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Golden Raspberry Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards (even though they don’t air music videos anymore.) C’mon, name one music video you didn’t watch online in the last, I don’t know, 10 years?

And 10 years ago, Miley Cyrus appeared as a presenter at the Oscars and people lost their minds. It was an #OKBoomer moment before #OKBoomer was a thing. She was criticized and the Oscars were criticized for trying to appeal to younger audiences. But that’s what needs to happen. When they got Seth MacFarlane to host, people criticized it. Jon Stewart and Chris Rock have done good work, but even now in 2022, they don’t appeal to younger audiences.

Everyone screams that they should bring back Billy Crystal, but his old-fashioned “You Look Marvelous!” schtick doesn’t fly anymore. Also the 74-year-old comic/actor/filmmaker even said he would return if they got rid of some of the award category. Really, Billy? Well, this year they seem to have heard you because several of the technical categories won’t be presented live.

And this has caused several well-known and respected Academy members to resign in protest. What the Oscars don’t need to do is shun the wizards behind the camera. Instead they need to be more diverse and inclusive. For an industry that is quick to criticize others for exclusion, they don’t seem to mind when they do it themselves. You can actually be too tall, too short, too fat, too “non-attractive” to get even cast in a background extra role.

Many of the moviegoers are tired of seeing period piece melodramas and Simple Jack movies. Forrest Gump wouldn’t even be in consideration today. It wouldn’t even be made without a lot of criticism. And that represents the Oscars’ biggest problem – they award actors for pretending to be disabled.

Troy Kotsur, a deaf actor/filmmaker is mostly likely a shoo-in for his role in CODA. And it’s not because he’s deaf, it’s because he nails the performance. He’s not an able-bodied actor pretending to be deaf for a role. He’s a deaf actor playing a role that is crucial to the movie. And some are saying CODA may be the upset Best Picture winner as The Power of the Dog was originally considered the front runner.

This brings me to the whether Benedict Cumberbatch will win. He should. His role is very complex. But playing a closeted gay cowboy has been done before. So, it will more likely go to Will Smith for King Richard, which is nothing more than a vanity project. Watching Smith recently in an interview on CBS, he is exactly what Tropic Thunder was mocking back in 2008. He’s the actor who only takes roles to get nominations.

Also, since the Oscars got criticized for awarding Sir Anthony Hopkins over Chadwick Boseman last year, this is an opportunity to make up. But yet, this raises a bigger question. Should Boseman have won because he gave a good performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom or because he passed away before it was released? Hopkins was great in The Father. And Boseman was great in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It was a tough choice.

Movies and actors shouldn’t win just because of what they intend to do. I found Brokeback Mountain boring. I like Crash better. But Crash is criticized because Brokeback didn’t win. However, if they weren’t in contention during the same year, would we offer the same criticism?

In many cases, movies, actors, directors and crew are nominated based on marketing campaigns rather than the Academy members watching their work. Harvey Weinstein knew how to do this back when he holding the reins at Miramax. You can almost see that in how Chicago won. And you all remember Chicago, right? Richard Gere, remember him? Renee Zellweger was in it with Catherine Zeta-Jones, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah. Remember? Anyone? Anyone?

The English Patient, which won 25 years, ago is mostly remembered more for its criticism in a Seinfeld episode. I remember watching the telecast and realized they kept showing basically the same clip over and over. The movie was over two and a half hours long and they mostly aired just a few minutes.

The problem is Oscar bait movies became well known to the general public 30 years ago and rather than make changes, the Academy embraced their own stereotypes. Movies like The Mask, Fight Club and Wayne’s World parodied them. On an interview, Matt Damon recalled an urban legend on the set of the WWII-era drama Fat Man and Little Boy, which was about the building of the atomic bombs, that the cast and crew were taking bets on how many Oscar nominations they’d get. If it’s true, they all lost money, because it was zero. And that movie was ripped apart by critics and bombed (pardon the pun) at the box office.

In 2014, two sociologists at UCLA, Gabriel Rossman and Oliver Schilke, reviewed approximately 3,000 movies made since 1985 and concluded the little known Come See the Paradise, which was about the Japanese interment camps during WWII, was the most Oscar bait movie from that time frame.

Sadly, it’s only gotten worse. White savior movies still get made. Movies about WWII still get made, mostly with actors way too old to be playing their real-life counterparts. Period piece movies seem to be the Oscars bread and butter. And of course, you can’t fail with a musical. While I liked West Side Story, I don’t particularly think it’s one of Steven Spielberg’s best. Spielberg, himself, is an Oscar favorite even though the Academy initially used to shun him.

And you can look at Spielberg as an example of how an industry initially shuns a young filmmaker but later sees them as infallible in their autumn years. After the success of Jaws, people said it was the more experienced Verna Fields as editor who made the movie success over the filmmaker who was 29 at the time. The nerve that a young filmmaker might actually be good at what they do. Ironically, Spielberg saw his snub for The Color Purple as a sign the Academy didn’t like him.

Yet, movies like Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extraterrestrial and even the 1977 Star Wars all received Best Picture nominations. There are the equivalent to Spider-Man: No Way Home or WALL-E and The Dark Knight, and tons of other blockbusters that went unrecognized.

The fact that someone has to be a certain age or at a certain stage in their film career to win has always plagued the Oscars. When Marisa Tomei won for My Cousin Vinny, people thought Jack Palance read the wrong name. Why? Because she was young. Forget that she nailed the performance and no one can mention the four other actresses nominated without Googling it. I can’t. Kevin Kline said he thought he was the dark horse for his nomination as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda and he was surprised and he won.

And while the Oscars this year are shunning the more technical awards, there’s criticism the Academy doesn’t recognized stunt work or other technical aspects that make movies so great. The sad part is the Oscars are trying to appease those who never did like them and probably never will.

While a lot of people are still wondering why the Oscars are still in existence, what they’re really bothered with is that the movie industry is going through a cycle as it’s had for many decades. I’m sure in 10 years, people will be saying something different.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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