Friday, January 21, 2005

Too Late For the Big Show?

Sasha Stone, the champion editor of Oscarwatch has an article up linked above where she again bemoans last year's date change. She feels that it's not fair to the films to not have that time to gestate a little and be screened, etc... for the voters and that the date change essentially "broke" the system. (Read it for a more reasoned explanation than my paraphrasal)

While I agree that the system is to some extent broke, I think the date change could, given time, actually fix it. I've been called an elitist and a snob from time to time for my taste in film. But the truth is, I'm actually pretty populist in my thinking about the Oscars. I WANT them to be for everyone. So, to me the date change is very postitive because it is more inclusive. It allows moviegoers to play along with their imaginary ballots (I have noticed that people who have seen movies and have definite favorites are FAR more interested in awards shows than those who have not) and in the old system when you had a lot of movies getting wide releases in mid february and being considered the best of the previous year -- Well, it wasn't just a faulty calendar at work. It was also exclusionary. The masses could only see the movie if the Academy bestowed it's blessing. If Hotel Rwanda did not have enough "time" to rally the troops, perhaps MGM/UA could have released it following its Toronto buzz? It could have been all the rage for as long as Sideways has been for example.

Just as I have no sympathy for latecomers to movies who arrive after the film has begun and can't find a good seat, I have no sympathy for films that are released the last weekend of the year hoping to be considered for that year's Oscars and miss out. Seems to me to be a greedy way to do the Oscar thing and a sure way to assure that we get a lot of nominees that might not age well. Some of the worst movies ever nominated have been Christmas releases. They might be cute or fun but a few months later the bloom is off the rose. Chocolat anyone? Working Girl?

So I think it would -in a strange way -do regular moviegoers a great disservice if all three of these The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, and Hotel Rwanda were nominated. Because it would convince studios to keep doing the 20 releases in the last week of the year to qualify thing that is so exclusionary to the average moviegoer. If the studios had enough Oscar years where their last second golden child was banned from the big five (like Cold Mountain) they might actually start letting people SEE the movies.

Let people SEE the films! That's my rallying cry. If I had my way you'd have to be in release by November to qualify. Give the films time to be viewed and time to be considered and THEN and only then can they be considered the best of something. If Hotel Rwanda and Million Dollar Baby are considered best of 2004, I just have to wonder what happened to the other 358 days of the year...


Anonymous said...

Hey! Don't hate on Working Girl. Cheesy as it is, I still love it and if you don't you can get your bony ass outta my sight!

I agree, however, with your assessment of the Oscar season.

Anonymous said...

Last year the early date brought lots of surprises on nomination day, there was only one december release nominated for best picture (while two years ago ALL best picture and best director nominees were released the last week of december) and according to my taste the most deserving nominees actually won (except for Zellweger - I agree with you there).

So how can anyone call this early date a failure? It was a wonderfull move!!!

If the admired Hotel Rwanda isn't nominated for any major Oscars, it is NOT because of the early date, but because of the awfull way MGM/UA is releasing it.

So I agree with you completely! Except for Working Girl, which I kinda like.

Sijmen (Geert)

Anonymous said...

Yes, although you are Nathaniel and revered, you must cease with the Chocolat and Working Girl bashing.

Anonymous said...

In my mind, there can never be ENOUGH Chocolat and Working Girl bashing. Keep it up Nathaniel.

- Ali

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