20 years ago I predicted Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would win Best Picture and I learned a hard lesson that helped me not predict Roma to win last year. And that reason, which you already know if you’ve been reading this site, is that it has films in other languages have their own category thus enabling voters to spread the wealth. Well, even though they did what they could do with Crouching Tiger and Roma, they choose to go all in on Oscar Sunday. They finally found a film they believed was better than any of the other movies up for the top award. To my mind, after that, I think they ought to obliterate the category. It’s antiquated anyway and it’s unfair to the other international nominees when a film is in both categories because it automatically becomes the winner (it would have won anyway). Either which way, times have certainly changed. In good ways, in bad ways.
It is by far more fun to come off of an Oscar year feeling like a winner because you picked the right movie in a hard year to call. Bragging rights are part of the high of being in the Oscar world, especially you are a Type A personality where it REALLY MATTERS. Of course, it doesn’t really matter. None of it matters. Unless, to some out there, it might. And to some out there, it does. But in the grand scheme of things, no matter what happens at the Oscars there is still a real world to confront with real problems. And so, after another year, we retreat into our corners and go into hibernation for 7 months until the next Oscar season rolls around.
Now’s a great time to thank the readers, many of you who have been coming back for 20 years to read what I and others have to say, and to let us know what you have to say. To thank you for entering our contests, tolerating our ads, and devoting your time and effort to contribute to what has to be the most prolific and articulate movie comment section anywhere online. Thank you for the kind letters you send, the thoughtful corrections when we make mistakes, for often having our backs when we find ourselves in a terrible fix, as we sometimes do. Thank you for reading, listening, debating, and predicting along with us these many years.
I have spent half of my life doing this strange job that I somehow invented for myself back in 1999. I’ve watched an entire industry bloom around me and I know that it’s probably time for me to step aside and let the many new voices on the Oscar scene take over. I’m not quite ready to do that but I’m closer than I used to be. I’m not sure I have anything to say about the Oscars with the way they’re starting to change, the factions they’re trying to satisfy, and their pursuit of new objectives they appear to be concerned with. I really only know how to cover the Oscars one way: by focusing on the qualities that add up to the highest achievements in film—without factoring in what sometimes seems to be their quixotic desire to right the wrongs of society (which they can’t). The art of film matters to me a lot, even if I tend to be more focused on studio films than any other kind. I learned to love movies when American cinema was in a legendary golden age. I grew up during the culmination of New Hollywood, watching movies five miles wide on enormous screens in movie theaters only Hollywood could build. Maybe some of that thrill wasn’t film as art. Maybe it was filmgoing as an unforgettable experience.
But by far the best thing about running this site for half of my adult life has been interfacing with you, dear readers. We’ve been through a lot together. The Lord of the Rings series. Brokeback Mountain. The Dark Knight, which led to the ballot expansion. We were on the frontlines of that one, weren’t we. We only have ourselves to blame. We’ve seen miraculous things together, like the first woman to win Best Picture and Best Director, the first film by a black director to Best Picture. And now, the first film in a language other than English to win Best Picture. We’ve somehow managed to survive html to blogs, forums to comment sections. Comment sections to social media. I don’t know about you but when I want to remember my life I just have to remember what won Best Picture that year and it puts it all into perspective for me.
I do feel, and have always felt, that this website has been a communal experience of give and take between writers and readers. Closing out this year, I have to thank all of those who have contributed to this site, in addition to you readers. The first of those is our fearless editor, Ryan Adams. To quote a line from Fried Green Tomatoes—there are angels out there masquerading as people and Ryan is one of those. No one else knows each and every one of you in the comment sections like he does. No one cares as much as about the integrity of the many voices that pass through here as he does. He’s made me a better writer, a better person and by god, one day he will make me a better tweeter. So thank you, Ryan.
We said goodbye to our good friend Jazz Tangcay who is a shooting star over at Variety. We all miss her around here, social butterfly that she is, and we miss her on our podcasts. That was a huge loss but she is thriving. Thank you, Jazz. Then there is our good friend Clarence Moye who has now stepped up a bit to fill Jazz’s shoes and this year came out to LA to cover the Globes and the Oscars, and even attended parties and spoke to actual celebrities. Clarence is a great guy with great instincts who does double duty as co-editor of ADTV. So thank you Clarence! And speaking of ADTV, co-editor Megan McLachlan, Joey Moser, and David Phillips are the most prolific team of writers that also have now come over to the film side. David has his own fan base on Twitter and every time he posts a new piece they tweet “A new Phillips just dropped!” Megan, who is secretly a hard-hitting journalist and not destined for puff pieces (It’s true, Megan) has done great work this year, as has Joey. Thank you Megan and Joey and David. And then there is Jalal Haddad, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with a few times. You wouldn’t know this about him—actually this is true about all of the ADTV crew, but he is funny. Really really wickedly funny. Thank you Jalal for putting up with me after two bottles of wine. Most recently we’ve welcomed Kevin Dillion, Shadan Larki, and Ben Morris into the AD fold, and it’s a testament to their talent, wit, and dedication to see them fit right in like members of our family. Thank you, Shadan, Kevin, and Ben.
And then there’s Marshall Flores who somehow manages to do contest forms when we aren’t even looking and is always available to proofread my sloppy copy in a timely fashion, which is always appreciated. But you probably don’t know that he is also a reliable texter when I’ve forgotten something, or when a candidate for president is about to drop out. You’re a good friend, Marshall, thank you.
Oh what would we do without Rob who runs the annual Awards Daily Oscar ballot – which is a lot harder than it looks. He barely had time for it this year but made time anyway. Thank you Rob. And Dora Kappou who has continued to appear as yet another angel to update our FYC gallery. Thank you Dora. And Tony Su who covers Cannes and Venice, making Awards Daily global. His reviews are always a pleasure to read. Thank you, Tony. And Paddy Mullholland, who covers the London Film Festival. Paddy can pack more sly insight into a single sentence than some writers do in five paragraphs. Thank you, Paddy.
We have lots of voices that pop in and out, who send us articles and stats and information that is always helpful and always appreciated. Thank you to everyone out there who does that. We do read all your messages and often share them with each other, even if we sometimes might not write back.
And with that we say goodbye until it all starts back up again. It’s been a great 20, Oscarwatchers. Let’s see what’s coming next.