Oscars so obsolete

Thursday, February 6, 2020 - 5:51pm

This Sunday will be the first time I haven’t watched the Academy Awards ceremony live since I was a little kid. Growing up as a film lover and now pursuing film as my major, the Oscars have always been required reading in order to understand and partake in the discourse surrounding media this time of year. This weekend is also regionals for the Michigan Mock Trial team, of which I am a member. Consequently, I will be driving home from Northwestern University when the Oscars air. I’ll have to check Twitter or something to find out the results. The Oscars used to be like the Super Bowl for film majors; I assume for many they still are. But this year when I realized the Oscars were the same weekend as regionals, I barely shrugged my shoulders.

Much has been said about how out of touch the Oscars are with the general public, how uniform both the films and people nominated are and how much they fail to represent the growing diversity in the film industry and in the world at large. I agree with all of these criticisms and don’t believe I could add anything in these pages on that front that hasn’t been said by others in a better and more compelling way. But I will say that I don’t think the Oscars really provide much compelling drama anymore. That is to say, they’re super boring, both as an event and as a subject for discussion. The age of the “movie star” is more or less over. Are there any actors or actresses today who can guarantee a film will not flop simply because they are in it? I honestly do not think so. The rivalries and personalities that used to capture the attention of the nation just no longer interest me. Turns out a lot of the people promoting these things were ReallyBadPeopleTM.

Which movie should win Best Picture? What do I care? I haven’t liked a Best Picture winner in years. The best movie I saw was certainly Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” but I honestly haven’t seen many of the other nominees. There was much ado about “Joker” back in October, but the movie never interested me from the start and post-controversy it interested me even less. I liked “Parasite” a lot but still thought “Little Women” was something I’m more likely to revisit in the future. Either way, what does it matter what I, or anyone else really thinks? Did “The Shape of Water” win last year, or two years ago? I can hardly recall what happened in it. All the Oscars’prestige pictures  — the World War psychological dramas and intimate character studies — have blended together. They’ve become as banal to me as the endless stream of superhero films that permeate cinemas. And no, I don’t think they should nominate more blockbusters just to get more people to watch. “Avengers: Endgame” is no more deserving of Best Picture than an Egg McMuffin is deserving of a best breakfast sandwich award. It’s good for what it is for sure — maybe the best version of what it can be — but it’s still covered in grease and you’re pretty sure it’s not good for you. 

For a while now people have been talking about how TV has begun to outdo film as the preeminent visual entertainment medium and it’s pretty hard to disagree with that when you look at the state of both industries. The Oscars sadly are another example of a problem that has become systemic. Again, this year there will be no host (at least I don’t think there is) because I guess there still was no way to replace Kevin Hart with anyone acceptable. I don’t know, just have Neil Patrick Harris do it again if you want. It seemed to work out fine last time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that when Sunday night rolls around someone will win, someone will lose and I will struggle to find a reason to care. Let’s get some more Michigan film majors on that stage and maybe then I’ll tune in for a bit. But just for a bit. The thing is four hours long and I have better ways to spend a Sunday night.