Whether you love or loathe the Academy Awards, there’s no doubt that winning one of those heavy gold statuettes can be a career-changing experience for those in the movie industry.
It’s not surprising then that the announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has lifted the number of nominations for Best Picture from 5 to 10 for 2010 has drawn interesting responses from fans and critics alike.
Some film professionals are delighted that the pool of competitors is being deepened, declaring that this decision will allow more cinematic contenders to vie for what’s undoubtedly the most prestigious prize of the night. Hope for the Australian film industry has even been expressed – but apart from this year’s winner of Canne’s best film, Warwick Thornton’s Sampson and Delilah, that wish is more akin to chasing rainbows.
Remember Welcome to Woop Woop anyone?
Others are more cynical, citing the poor ratings the broadcasting of the Academy Awards have received over the last few years (2007 being an all-time low), and the subsequent loss of revenue as the real driver of the decision. More films, equals more ads and more advertising dollars.
Others quite rightly say that the Oscars are just one big marketing exercise anyhow, and it’s the studio films with the big money and corporate push that can get their product in everyone’s faces that triumph, so what’s the point? This year’s champion, Slumdog Millionaire undermines that to a degree, but that’s one movie among many.
Box office receipts don’t always match the critics’ accolades. Sometimes, winning Best Picture can drive the general public away as it signals a production out of touch with what’s considered entertaining to the masses.
After all, apart from reviewers like Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, (who are paid), film academics, teachers and a few dedicated movie groupies, who clamours to see the winner when there’s a new James Bond or the latest Bromance competing?
Certainly, the populist push encouraged by interactive digital media such as Twitter, FaceBook, blogs and YouTube suggest that the Hollywood elite are out of touch with their viewing audiences and what they want.
Accustomed to interacting with the entertainment industry through voting and real time commentary, with shows like American Idol and Australia’s and Britain’s Got Talent, award ceremonies like the Oscars, the way they compose their shortlist and select the winners, can seem old-fashioned in a very analogue way.
Unless you have straight actors playing gay characters – ‘gay for pay’ (Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, Milk), or able-bodied ones being physically or mentally disabled (Rain Man, I am Sam, Born on the Fourth of July, Forrest Gump, A Beautiful Mind), or beautiful women wearing disfiguring make-up or downplaying their looks (Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball, Charlize Theron in Monster or Nicole Kidman in The Hours), then chances of getting any award, let alone best Picture, are slim at best.
And what about films that not only tell a rollicking good story, but have amazing Computer Graphic Imaging? It appeared that Peter Jackson’s Return of the King would have put that gremlin to rest in 2003, but generally, science-fiction, fantasy, animation and even action movies as well as comedies (one comedy has won in 30 years - Shakespeare in Love in 1998, an even then, it was period film and Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett should have won) are now snubbed when it comes the ultimate honour.
So with that in mind, what movies are guaranteed to never make the top 10 list for Best Picture next year? These are my early picks:
1. The Hangover (no well-known actors disguising their good looks);
2. Star Trek (though the really bad accents might increase their chances);
3. Flash Gordon (because it never should have been remade);
4. Watchmen (while based on a graphic novel, too close to comic book to be a contender);
5. Harry Potter (if it’s going to get one, it will be like Lord of the Rings and it will be for the last film);
6. Transformers 2 (Megan Fox looks way too good);
7. Up (animated, but what a film!);
8. Astro Boy (coming later this year and starring Nicholas Cage – hence it won’t win a thing).;
9. The Boat that Rocked (too British and funny);
10. Cowboys and Aliens (the title says it all).
Are 10 nominations better? Not for audiences. Not when it’s going to make the broadcast even longer than it already is.
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