It’s never a pretty picture to look inside the mind of your average Oscar voter, especially those who have nothing better to do than blab about their choices. Back when I first started covering the Oscar race it was considered a rookie move to post or advertise what one Oscar voter was choosing – simply because there were so many pretending to be Oscar voters. No one is easier to fool than an Oscar blogger because they’re always looking to do three things, 1) pretend that they are rubbing elbows with Academy members, and 2) that they are the person Academy members talk to, and 3) generate filler.
You have to wonder why an Academy member would share this info with an online site. A while back, a LONG while back, the Wall Street Journal took out an Oscar poll in order to predict the Oscars. They got it mostly right but not 100%. The guilds themselves mostly serve as polls because you can get almost as close to predicting their winners just by looking at the guilds. Hey, that’s what most of us predictors do.
I would imagine that there is a large section of Academy members who like being the center of all of this puffery this time of year, and maybe they aren’t exactly working on a movie set, or showing up at an office making their assistant, wife, child, grandchild, mistress, UPS guy fill out their ballot. Maybe they have a lot of time on their hands and they’re looking at all of the coverage now of the Oscar race. There is so much coverage it looks like No Face in Spirited Away, a churning beast that always wants MORE.
Naturally they might be inclined to think, why shouldn’t someone know what I picked? Either way, for whatever reason, it’s curious to see those stories popping up during balloting. Two days and the ballots are turned in – everything will slow way down. No one is left to influence so there’s nothing left to say. But Academy members who turn up and say what they’re voting for with ballots outstanding? They are and will always be suspicious to me.
To make matters worse, those who report on them never say who they are. They can’t. They’ll get kicked out of the Academy for revealing their picks. That makes even more suspicious to me. I have never trusted them, particularly, except if it’s Anne Thompson hobnobbing with a bunch of them and a party and picking up “the buzz.” That is actually useful. But this?
Jeff Wells highlights this Daily Beast debacle one such member, “Pat” who leaves the heavy lifting thinking up to his son. The son is so bright he brings up torture porn to describe 12 Years a Slave. Oh good, he’s been keeping up with the whisper campaigns. The subject of Amy Adams having no boobs was brought up as if that matters for any reason except to remind the world how few people got what she was trying to do with that part – slim herself way down Studio 54 in the 1970s-style in order to have that lean, tan, 70s look. But does “Pat” notice that? Of course not. He’s used to be catered to – big boobs, hot young women, why bother with the details? Decoration isn’t meant to be mistaken for actual human beings.
“Pat” is almost as bad as the guy over at Gold Derby. “Demo Man” has a big old boner for American Hustle, so much so that he’s voting for Christian Bale for Best Actor. He is not talking about Amy Adams’ boobs – I guess he liked them just fine. He liked the jiggle and hustle and swagger of the film and has obliterated all of the favorites. Natch. Believe me, anyone who is going to blab about their voting isn’t going to step forward and say “I’m voting for 12 Years a Slave, Alfonso Cuaron, McConaughey and Blanchett. Yeah, not going to happen. How would they stand apart from the rest that way?
We have put our faith in a group of people who really do hold the fate of nothing less than naming the “Best Picture of the Year.” Why they would be fucking around with talking to bloggers and journalists about what they’re voting for with ballots still outstanding is beyond me. But hey, some people save string.
Why do I have a feeling they’re going to kiss off 12 Years a Slave with maybe one acting win? Maybe? I’ll leave you with what Kenneth Turan wrote in 2006 when Crash lost to Brokeback Mountain:
In the privacy of the voting booth, as many political candidates who’ve led in polls only to lose elections have found out, people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices that they would never breathe to another soul, or, likely, acknowledge to themselves. And at least this year, that acting out doomed “Brokeback Mountain.”
For Hollywood, as a whole laundry list of people announced from the podium Sunday night and a lengthy montage of clips tried to emphasize, is a liberal place, a place that prides itself on its progressive agenda. If this were a year when voters had no other palatable options, they might have taken a deep breath and voted for “Brokeback.” This year, however, “Crash” was poised to be the spoiler.
I do not for one minute question the sincerity and integrity of the people who made “Crash,” and I do not question their commitment to wanting a more equal society. But I do question the film they’ve made. It may be true, as producer Cathy Schulman said in accepting the Oscar for best picture, that this was “one of the most breathtaking and stunning maverick years in American history,” but “Crash” is not an example of that.
You can’t really make the argument that Gravity is Crash. A Gravity win is still a win for a great movie. But you can make the argument that voters recoil when it comes to righting the wrongs of the past. They would rather reward a mediocre film that makes them feel good, that has no baggage at all, that no one will remember a year from now than pick a film, a landmark film, like 12 Years a Slave.