But the last one I had who was getting my hopes up
I might have been a little fast to dismiss
I think he let me down when he didn’t disappoint me
He didn’t always guess right but he usually got my gist
I didn’t watch the oscars this year. You probably won’t find this surprising if you’ve read my article entitled ‘why the oscars are an insult to film’ I wrote a few months back. Or you’ve, you know, spoken to me about it in real life. But I didn’t ‘boycott’ them, or expect them to disappoint – rather I simply was watching a Scorsese film, and had little interest in the overstretched ceremony or it’s stars (if Lars von Trier was there, maybe I would’ve watched). But since I wrote that article, I’ve had a change of heart. I don’t believe that the oscars are an insult to film, just that they should be ignored. I recently unfollowed a film critic I admired on Twitter because, for the last few weeks, all he’s tweeted is a list of the worst oscar decisions. It was tedious and spiteful. The oscars brought out the worst in him because he’d focused on the worst of the oscars. It’s become more of an expectation amongst critics and film fans alike now, that the oscars will no doubt disappoint. But isn’t this the case for any award ceremony? Has there ever been a year where everyone was pleased with each category? Do we even need this kind of separation between audiences, that they’re all rooting against each other’s favourite films? Every year the oscars succeed in taking a shared experience – cinema – and fragmenting it. This is the real oscar travesty. It’s not that I don’t think film should be celebrated and technical innovation recognised, it’s that this can – and is – done without the academy.
Every year, the world of anglophonic film criticism revels in lists of ‘worst oscar snubs’ or ‘oscar travesties’ like they’re the little guys; they’re the independent record store owners standing up for The Smiths or Pixies because the big awards don’t recognise them when, in actual fact, the most common films brought up (Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane, Singin’ In The Rain, any genre or animated movie) have huge fanbases, so what’s the purpose? It indirectly results in the most hateful time in the ‘film calendar’, whatever that means. Dozens of films are ripped apart because, we feel, they aren’t worthy of their award, it should be stripped of them and given back to those who deserve it – then all order in the American film industry will be restored. These types of discussions are, largely, meaningless making them not worth having, yet they are endless in their number. It’s because we all like to live in an elitist bubble of culture. I like to call it a ‘favouritist culture’: we hold the belief that my favourite film is better than your favourite film, or my favourite band is better than your favourite band. Is this ignoring one of the key purposes of art, or entertainment, in the first place? It should bring us together, unite people from different ethnicities, generations, upbringings, genders, intelligences – the mutual love of a movie is pure, and in that purity lies a series of bonds which links us together (and yes, I know that some movies are meant to drive us apart: the point is appreciation is vast and powerful). But before this starts sounding like a Scientology recruitment session, I suppose I am being as arrogant as all other movie critics in telling them how they should act, but maybe it’s because I’m defensive of cinema. It’s not about getting over oscar travesties, it’s about disregarding them completely, and continuing to broaden our film tastes – after all, there’s no ‘foreign cinema’, just ‘cinema’.
I believe film shouldn’t have to seek academy recognition, nor be disappointed when it fails to receive it – as Mark Cousins says: ‘movies are a multi billion dollar global industry now, but what drives them isn’t box office or showbiz. It’s passion and innovation.’ Great films often don’t come to us with awards and statuettes, but via friendship, family and fascination.
Things I stole from:
Film Crit Hulk has been a particular influence on my approach to film criticism.