What’s The Point Of The Oscars?

Posted on Feb 21 2015 - 2:18pm by Andy Caley

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BOYHOOD will win Best Picture. Eddie Redmayne (for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING) and Michael Keaton (for BIRDMAN) are fighting for Best Actor, although Redmayne has the edge. It’s Julianne Moore’s turn to win Best Actress (for STILL ALICE). J.K. Simmons has screamed his way to winning Best Supporting Actor for WHIPLASH. Patricia Arquette will win Best Supporting Actress for BOYHOOD on behalf of all the mums out there. There is an ongoing to and fro in the Best Director category between Richard Linklater for BOYHOOD and Alejandro G. Iñárritu for BIRDMAN, my money is on Linklater. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL will win Best Original Screenplay, while Adapted Screenplay is the most ambiguous, but after THE IMITATION GAME’s win at the Writer’s Guild Awards, the safe bet would be to go for that. Technical awards aside, that’s about it.

So, why is it that we have this annual build-up for what is essentially an hours-on-end self-celebratory ceremony, with good-looking Hollywood stars thanking other good-looking Hollywood stars for making them so brilliant? What exactly is the point of the Oscars, or indeed any film award ceremony, other than another digit being added onto the winners’ salaries?

All the cynicism of ratings and consumerism aside, a healthier way to look at award ceremonies is this: if one more person decides to go and see BOYHOOD because of its Best Picture and/or Acting nominations, then that’s all the justification one needs for their existence. No matter what your opinion on the Oscars, the BAFTAS, or even the Golden Globes are, if they get people talking about films, taking them seriously on the basis that they are awards contenders, then surely that should land them a place in the good books of all film enthusiasts. Even films that are snubbed by award ceremonies gets people talking about films, films that they thought were good, and why they think they should have been recognised. No doubt that some of the box office receipts for the Martin Luther King biopic SELMA were from audiences who wanted to see the film that had so many critics complaining about its lack of nominations, not least a Best Actor nod for David Oyelowo (a complaint which I echo).

Some cinema chains have even taken to rereleasing films that have won/been nominated for awards, particularly this year with two of the Best Picture nominees (BOYHOOD and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) released way beyond the usual memory expectancy of Academy voters. But also, classics like CASABLANCA, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and GONE WITH THE WIND are frequently rereleased, and are still advertised as Oscar winners. While the intention to go and see these films on the basis of their wins may seem shallow, frankly as long as they convince people to actually go and see them (which, if you haven’t already, what are you doing with your life?), then all the showbiz and consumerism, which will lead to the eventual collapse of Western civilisation, will not have been in vain.

Make no mistake, award ceremonies should never be taken seriously. Rather, it’s what they represent that should be taken seriously: a celebration of interesting films that would have otherwise never seen the light of day. Can mainstream audiences honestly say that they would have seen BOYHOOD, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, or THE ARTIST had it not been for the glamorous award ceremonies saying that they should do? Something to think about when you’re hosting your Oscar party this Sunday.

And, if you are watching the 87th Academy Awards live, from start to finish, and are struggling to get through the vomit-inducing acceptance speeches, just know that there is actually an official guideline on how to properly accept an award. Isn’t that right, Ricky?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGflr_HFYb8]

The 87th Academy Awards ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, is on the 22nd February at 5.30pm PST on ABC in the US, and the 23rd February at 1:30am GMT on Sky Movies Oscars in the UK (Sky Movies Oscars will also be showing an Oscars Highlights at 9:00pm on 23rd February).

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