The Academy has released a promo as to why people watch the Oscars. We did a similar thread a while back called “What the Oscars mean to you” — the comments on that piece are great. You should read through them if you get a chance. They could make a whole book. I will post a few below.
Fro Dave in Progress:
Thank you for asking, Sasha. The Academy Awards are for me, about History. Movie History. The Big Screen and all the Hoopla that has come with it for decades has fascinated me since first discovering the Oscar in 1978.
I was a 13 year old boy and had walked into the kitchen where my older sister was doing her homework with a little black and white TV on. There was a sense of occasion; an event; glamour and excitement that was being exuded from this tiny little monochrome television set. I entered the room and glimpsed Richard Drefyuss skipping up the stairs to win for his hilarious and poignant turn in ‘The Goodbye Girl’.
What is it?’ I asked. ‘It’s the Academy Awards’, she said nonchalantly.
Little did I know the powerful seed that would be planted from that happenstance. This would grow into a lifelong passion, obsession and love. As previously shared on this site, when I had my cancer diagnosis a decade ago, one of the reasons I chose the particular treatment option I did, was to ensure I would be here to witness as many Academy Award presentations that I could; a marker of a life that still wished for many sunrises and sunsets to experience. What would my life have been without the Oscars? I have no idea, but it would be a dull existence without the sense of anticipation and thrill of not only the awards each season, but the culture that flows from it – the movies themselves. The stories; the performances, the artistry, the heart! This is a 365 days a year event. I could not be more thankful for it.
That’s what the Oscars mean to me.
I worry that they have lost their relevance to the broader public, that the pomp and circumstance, however tacky people think it is, has vanished. I worry that it is no longer about the movies but a struggle session to define and redefine the fast evolving cultural Left. I worry that they see themselves and their choices as council and direction to “fix” society rather than entertain it. I worry that there are too many people micromanaging it such that a movie that people think is good can’t be taken seriously because it isn’t an “Oscar movie.”
My friend Michael has told me he isn’t a fan of how the Oscars have changed. He thinks they have lost some of their luster because they’re “drowning in politics.”
Well.. Sasha…you outlined what most us believe OSCAR does NOT should NEVER mean and stand to us..political driven narrow minded madness..social media driven manipulation of oscar members votes and which films make the cut for best picture- being excessively pigeonholed based on the relevance of the film’s capacity as you say Sasha to ‘FIX’ America- and the world’s social woes.
It interesting you say you tuned in in the year ‘LA Confidential’ went head to head with the popular..less critically acclaimed but all round resonating epic in ‘Titanic’ for I have a bombshell confession to make i have NOT seen LA Confidential…I was on the cusp of unprecedented upheaval when i was in my teens in my personal life..at a time i could ill afford it.. Thanks to the awful chaotic unprecedented in our lifetime pandemic..i been having a sigh of relief (to order at brilliant and superbly cheap prices )- films i know be of interest to me AND that got oscar nominated. Even then films that were not oscar nominated that neverheless deserved to be nominated..Stories that resonated with the film going public..but also where filmmakers embraced pushing the boundary of an adapted screenplay to accomodate creativity over politics..and then original stories that Hollywood are losing faith in elevating to be best picture awards worthy.
LA Confidential even without seeing it..and that about to change is a case study in a film as creative and artistic at Hollywood’s best right before arguably the beginning of OScars very slow but gradual descent into overreliance of preferencing for best picture the mundane over the spectacular. Over the unforgettable. Over the powerful and creative boldness within both adapted film screenplays and elevated genre redefinition that original scripted films have shown to us the film audience the admirable inspirational capactiy to sweep up both critics and audiences alike within hollywood. All of these positive attributes that ensured Hollywood respectability and admiration..that made them respected at far higher levels than the dismal levels by film going public today..are almost gone. This years oscar race typifies the prefence for adapted stories…driven by social semi political socialist inspired agendas- exception of 2- Promising Young Woman- and Mank..But never before can i recall such a near complete lack of original or visionary bold semi- adapted stories to big screen figuring in a list of 8- 10 oscar best pic contenders.
It the capacity for a filmmaker- and film studio to take critics and audiences and the industry peers to embrace filmmakings finest hour on merit- all it artistic glory and where historical events are told..to find a way to push the visionary component- without becoming a mundane docu- style so called ‘film’ (See Nomadland a film nobody would ever comprehended would be competing in best pic category i cant believe we got to this point as far as oscar is concerned).. Historical epics have been proven to be graphic, horrific, realistic yet amazingly engaging and inspiring and visionary- see Saving Private Ryan- or tell historic story- yet have the courage while adapting a choronology of real events take a ‘risk’ to use both imagination and story telling faith in the filmmaker or through their sense of vision to reinvigorate and resurrect a once forgotten ‘Golden Era’ Epic. Yes, in 2000, Gladiator was not best written screenplay..but nobody could deny considering it was a modern revival while staying true to the bygone era of hollywood decades past it used by date at the surface, Gladiator was nevertheless a fittting tribute to bringing in the new millenium- both celebrating past golden era of hollywood and reinvigorating traditional epic filmsd with modern effects, modern cinematic devices to make the old relevant and engaging to the newer generation.. that why Gladiator deserved to win best picture and did- (And i have to say the special extended edition of Gladiator has more depth and far sharper more defined more logical screenplay in way events are explained and how key moments overlap there are less flaws in the script than the theatrical version.
1998 was the race i engaged with the first one i followed start to finish- which was extraordinary as i was doing my final year vce- or you in america would call hsc..year 12 the make or break year to do tertiary studies or take the skills from year 12 to work in your preferred area- if possible instantly..yet i had more stability in my life..and that in turn enabled me to engage in most of the oscar contenders that year..But the seed was planted as some to this day attest..and thought a number disagree with me that what to date is still regarded as the modern masterpiece of war story film making and a seminal moment in realism in cinema- period- trascending to this day through numerous realistic hard edged action films..especially ones of war/ battle settings…all derived from Saving Private Ryan’s cinematic landmark achievement..and few war films came close to rivalling the incredible success of Saving Private Ryan- has to be said BOTH COMMERCIALLY AND CRITICALLY the film still holds the record for the highest grossing war movie to date…the film is still refrenced by filmmakers who craft of specialty is to breathe realism and the visceral intensity in some actions films to date…yet 1998 leaned the way of to be fair..a very rare alternative moment that was a shakespeare inspired script to create a love story of Shakespeare..sounds wonderful right? well..i should confess it is an excellent film..but in a year that unquestionably the most critically enthused and publicly endorsed AND RSL and war veteran elevated film..that attracted even the then presidents attention..and commendations to go with acclaim beyond cinematic acclaim Saving Private Ryan Transcended into societal relevance- historical..veterans celebrated and saluted it..i mean..the film won the ‘spirit of normandy award’…now few war films if any in Hollywood would transcend the cinematic experience to be elevated by amongst the most respected of our citizens those who fought, survived the great war..I did see Shakespeare in Love once- but i was swept up rightfully in tyhe Saving Private Ryan mania..it was the war film that took the world by storm..it became a event..easily most talked about film..but the film oscar championed as the radio coverage that day stated “it was love not war” that prevailed..Shakespeare in Love vs. Saving Private Ryan 2 very high quality films..but i not only one..a race that came to give a hint of a potential worrying trend that toi date has all but taken hold of the academy..
MORALITY and societal relevance to todays sociological needs over telling great stories,, true or not, regardless that elevate themselves to a truly unforgettable experiential piece of cinema for the audience, showcasing hollywood at its innovative capabilities and best.
This is what Hollywood’s Oscars i like to think can find a way to rediscover once again…I understand not totally against that Titanic won above LA Confidential..but even then do i look back pre- 1998 to think and reflect..were oscar starting to go cool on original inventive stories? in favour of adapted lesser inventive films stories?
I written plenty of LOTR and the influence of Christopher Nolan over Hollywood..all i can say is we need more of these quality of both visionary revolutionary adapted story filmmaking and visionary revolutionary originality to breathe public relevance and credibiltiy into the oscars dont you think? only then will i have hope and optimism for OScars ability to be meaningful once again to me see? AFTER ALL THE GREAT ZIEGFRIED who founded broadway…the precursor that shaped the evolution to motion picture industry and the first expansion of Hollywood in its form since..envisioned original stories..with much‘vision for the masses’..NOT sociological idealism
I can’t remember WHY I got so hooked on Oscars, because no one I knew had the habit of following the ceremony (no cinephiles where I grew up + the telecast being too late (around 10 PM) to keep up if you have to get up early the next morning to go to work/school), but I did. I think they were replaying it on TV on a Saturday afternoon and it looked to me like the coolest thing ever. so I asked my mom to remind me when they would take place the following year.
she did, and I did start watching it, but I always ended up falling asleep in the middle of it. I didn’t mind, because although I felt it was fun, I was also very confused by the name-dropping and unaware of what most jokes meant.
this happened for five years straight until two things changed my relationship with the Oscars forever:
1. I realized I could sleep in the afternoon in order to be ready for the late night telecast
2. finally, for the first time ever, I had seen one of the nominated movies beforehand, even before the nominations came (maybe two months before, I imagine: this was huge back then, in the pre-internet era, living in a third-world country), and that was not only my favorite film of the year, but also a landmark for my cinephilia: Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables.
so, from the moment I was able to not only follow the ceremony properly but also had a favorite to root for (and consequently a foe to despise, that is, The Last Emperor, that horrible film that was nominated for all the things The Untouchables should have been), I was finally able to understand the Oscars spirit.
I’ve loved it ever since, even if most of the times they award my least favorite of the bunch, because THAT is what makes the few victories that I’ve actually rooted for the more special.
my favorite years/ceremonies/film slates were: of course the Titanic one, because I liked all movies and was fine with all the awards (and because I was introduced to As Good as it Gets, one of my favorite movies of all times), because of Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams, and Stanley Donen, and Elliot Smith; The Departed one, because for most of my oscarwatching life all I ever wanted to see was Scorsese get its due Oscar; The Silence of the Lambs one, because I was utterly SHOCKED that a film that felt so “un-Oscary”, for countless reasons, would still prevail; and the Shakespeare in Love one, purely for the surprise ending (and because I love SiL, sue me).
it’s been a long time I haven’t fallen in love with a Best Picture, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I think there’s a strong possibility that this year will be it.
2004, I was 11, caught a glance of a movie poster in theater with list of Oscar noms/wins it gets. I don’t remember the movie, but I remember being curious of what is considered the “best” film. And then I make a concious decision to try watch these Oscar films. The first one I remember is The Aviator in the theater with my father.
Some times later, I realized that lots of the films that I’ve been watching w/ my grandma and grandpa prior to that are Oscar films. These includes Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of the Arabia, Schindler’s List, and Out of Africa. My older sister also brought me to watch all 3 Lotr in theater.
I don’t think I ever watched Oscar ceremony fully, maybe not even half of it. I only watched GG if Gervais was hosting. My interaction w/ Oscar is mostly through this site.
p.s. start following this site around 2005/2006 I think. I remember loving The Departed, and Sasha wrote how overdue is Scorcese.
p.s.2. for that first several months in 2004, I thought best picture means best poster, which really confuses me.
I could simply say that Oscars were the time of the year when people were most excited about cinema, and that’s when adults and children I knew used to talk about movies and not about soccer.
Since I was four I loved cinema. At home as well as at the theatre, and I used to spend the whole afternoon at my aunt’s video store too. I have vague souvenirs about Braveheart winning and I remember the media talking about The English patient’s sweep the year after.
And then, when I was ten, the film everybody had to see, Titanic. And that’s the only year I remember e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y was excited about the Oscars’ results. Next year a lot of people went to the video store to rent Shakespeare in love and they mostly despised it. I do remember, however, in the year 2000 a lot of people talking about Almodovar’s film more than American Beauty itself and how it was gross and loathing and an insult to Spanish culture… so I guess I didn’t grew up in the most arty cinema friendly town, but anyway, who did ?… I think that was the last time Oscars went big in my entourage until high school mates were excited about LoTR. And by then, mostly every video store in town had closed, with the closest theatre 10 miles away in big shopping malls, so cinema and Oscar conversations were displaced from the town to an industrial park.
For me Oscar night’s always been a wonderful night. My brother would sneek into the living room at 3am to tune it in and he silently went back to the room, to wake me up and let me watch a little. The danger of waking up our parents frightened us, yet we stayed hooked to the screen. After three of four prizes, we went back to bed because we couldn’t risk the punishment of not watching the recap the day after. I also remember the first night of my life I couldn’t sleep a single minute, Bardem was nominated and even if I hadn’t seen the film, only imagining a guy from my country could win an Oscar was enough excitement not to have a little rest.
And for the rest, I found Oscarwatch in 2004, we were all talking (well, I was reading trying to understand English, you were all walking) about The aviator and I think it was when DGA chose Eastwood that everything went ballistic. Later on, the site dissapeared and I didn’t know why, but years after I found it as Awardsdaily by pure chance. I recognized some users, still here today, and then I kept reading until I decided to write every now and then.
Mostly to call you off, but that makes me very happy.