In his latest always entertaining Oscar column, Movieline’s Stu Van Airsdale takes me to task on my suggestion that this year’s Oscar race will render the critics irrelevant in a way we’ve not yet seen. ¬†Like, not ever. ¬†Usually even films like Crash, Shakespeare in Love and Braveheart, which scooted through to a Best Picture win at the last minute, had SOME critics awards behind them. ¬†Yes, I am talking not about REVIEWS but about critics AWARDS – not just awards but top ten lists.
Mr. Van Airsdale also brings up Rotten Tomatoes:
Furthermore ‚Äî and not to ascribe some definitive critical faculties to Rotten Tomatoes, but the site seems germane since we‚Äôre all so obsessed with the Academy‚Äôs own alleged hive-mind function ‚Äî why should critics feel so disenfranchised to see a 95%-approved film (e.g. King‚Äôs Speech) win Best Picture over a 97%-approved film (Social Network)? If that‚Äôs the case, why are we not going to war on behalf of Toy Story 3 (99% approved) or True Grit (tied at 95% approved)? Must this really be a two-horse race at this point? And if so, who‚Äôs ultimately responsible?
All a high score on RT tells you is that most of the critics gave the film a positive review. ¬†Metacritic, which has been known to be off on many occasions, helps to clear up just how enthusiastic critics were towards a particular film and this year, The Social Network is top of the top. ¬†But why stop there. ¬†It’s won not just critics associations (as Stu notes, “relatively tiny bodies that go through rounds and rounds of voting”) but weighted voting from the Critics Choice and larger voting bodies like the National Society of Film Critics and the Southeastern Film Critics. ¬†Sure, nothing compared to the thousands who vote on the guild awards and the Oscars.
Finally, Movie City News’ list of top tens of the top ten films has Social Network nearly doubling the next second highest scoring film. ¬†There is no way around this, folks. ¬†Yes, all of the films in the Best Picture ten were well reviewed. ¬†Going by Metacritic you have: 1. The Social Network, 2. Toy Story 3, 3. Winter’s Bone, 4. The King’s Speech. ¬†The King’s Speech is a very well reviewed film. No one is saying it isn’t. They are all well reviewed. Only one has emerged as the unanimous choice for Best Film of 2010. ¬†It’s worth putting this on the record because we will be mulling it over for years to come – everyone will wonder how the hell Oscars 2010 went down the way they did, how the scales were tipped so dramatically from one phase to the next.