This is going to be the last post on this topic but there are still a few things to say. There have been a couple of interesting points made on the exclusion of 2008 biggest film, The Dark Knight. And I hesitate to highlight them only because I don’t want this to be about the inclusion of The Reader. I really do believe that if it wasn’t The Reader it would have been something else; the simple fact is, the Academy just didn’t respond to the film and that is apparently all that matters to them.
Marc Caro writing for the Chicago Tribune talks about the potential ratings nightmare for ABC, closing his piece this-a-way:
But when the Academy denies top recognition to such critically and popularly beloved movies as “The Dark Knight” and “WALL-E” (96 percent positive reviews, $224 million domestic box office, more than double that of “Benjamin Button”), it risks confirming the suspicions of those who think it has grown out of touch with mainstream tastes.
Now ABC has to hope that the millions of people who think they know better than the Academy will tune in anyway. Good luck with that.
Caro’s piece is interesting because it doesn’t just talk about the Dark Knight snub, it also mentions how Miley Cyrus and Bruce Springsteen, not to mention Clint Eastwood, won’t be showing up either. They don’t think about ratings, they don’t think about critics, they don’t think about the public anymore (they certainly used to). So what do they think about? “I don’t know, I just didn’t like it.”
Why then does anyone give a crap about these 6,000 people? Truly, therein lies the question. No one can blame the Academy because they’re just doing what they’ve been doing. Our fascination with them, our focus on their choices, our desire to predict their choices — that’s what’s weird.
Still, the Oscars bring prestige in our culture so that when someone dies it’s always “Oscar winner so and so died today.” It’s right up there with the Pulitzer and the Nobel Peace Prize. Careers are made on winning them. Projects get made because of them. An entire industry revolves around them. They shouldn’t be a big deal but they are a big deal.
The lame-brained way their balloting works, and their refusal to release their vote counts, leads people to believe that they are remarkably out of touch with their bread and butter — who the hell do they think is going to be buying the tickets to the films they produce, act in, direct and write?
Hollywood cannot thrive nor exist in its own little bubble. Not now. Not when the studios are outsourcing to India, not when their slashing jobs left and right, not when it’s so much easier to Netflix it and sit and home on your flat panel and watch the latest movie you figured there was no point in shelling out money to see. There was one movie the broke and tired people of this country did pay money to see. To the tune of $530 million. It wasn’t just the people’s choice; it also had the critics behind it, landing at number two on all of the top ten charts, behind only Wall-E. The Directors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild all gave it the thumbs up.
But those who snubbed it – the Globes and the BAFTA – have notoriously questionable taste — and it’s time to start thinking of the Oscars as having such a strong British base that AMPAS should be renamed BAMPAS. The thing is, it’s fine not to like the movie, not to get the movie, not to understand the movie – fine to be “confused” by the third act (it has taken me a while to understand it myself), but to refuse to acknowledge its dominance, its rightful place as easily one of the best FIVE films of the year, is just plain stupid.
Meanwhile, Jonah Nolan wrote a letter to the crew who put up the Dark Campaign site:
hey ‚Äî not sure who to address this to as it looks like a collective effort, but I just wanted to pass along my thanks.
It‚Äôs truly humbling that you guys would take the time and effort to try to get the film recognized. I, like you, was disappointed that Chris didn‚Äôt get some recognition this morning, but for Heath and so many of the people who worked so hard on this thing to get nominated is thrilling.
Any nominations for a comic book movie is a thing of beauty no matter how you slice it, and that takes the sting out a bit. Besides, I‚Äôve been to the big show before, and, like any of these things, it‚Äôs a little disappointing. Did you know it‚Äôs not even an open bar once the show starts? At least this time I would have remembered to bring a little cash so I could buy myself a drink after losing.
The best part of this experience is seeing other people getting passionate about the film the way that we did. It has been a truly incredible experience. So thank you again.
It’s important to note two things. The first is that Heath Ledger is now officially a part of two major oversights in Academy history. But continuing to fight for The Dark Knight, or to boycott the Oscars seems like delicious revenge, the truth is that this will do nothing but tempt the Academy to snub Ledger as well. They might just get so sick of the angry mob of fans they decide to dig their heels in and whenever they do that something very unpleasant blooms from their stodgy bottoms. Maybe it’s time to say, oh well. Let’s get on with the show.
The second thing to note is that we ourselves are to blame here for having high expectations. And perhaps for caring too much what they do.¬† They are, after all, their own little club and they can vote for what they like. Really really like. If you’re going to be watching Oscar, one must know how to hold a hand over the flame: the trick is not minding.