There is a long tradition of the Oscar voters voting for actors even when those actors have poo-poo’d the awards. Why? Because there probably isn’t a single person in the Kodak, either in the audience or on stage who doesn’t think the same thing. The only people who really think that much of the Oscars are the fans, and the journalists who always start an obit with “Oscar winner so-and-so.” Even Joaquin Phoenix, someday, will acknowledge this. But Sally Field put it best when she won her second Best Actress Oscar (I think she might win a third for Lincoln): “You like me.” That’s really what it is. They like you. And for that one shimmering moment you have some deserved power in Hollywood to do with what you like. Someone just handed you a big check and said, here, go do something with this. It’s that, and being part of Oscar history.
The Oscars really do mean something for up-and-comers, however. It would mean the difference in the career of, say, Ava DuVernay or Benh Zeitlin, or Ann Dowd, or any struggling artist who has trouble raising money or getting called for parts. Pardon me for saying that Joaquin Phoenix ought to consider himself lucky, first in having an easy entry into showbiz in the first place, and second, for having critics, audiences and Hollywood love his work. Once you evolve past yourself? As in, get over yourself? You can begin to let the love in.
But Phoenix’s heart is in the right place when he says:
“I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s total, utter bullshit, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other … It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world.”
And recalling the nightmare of publicity when you have an Oscar favorite and you have to schmooze he wrote: