OSCAR 2010 Snoozefest Begins: 10 Films Versus 5? Let’s Try 2 Instead
OSCAR 2010 Snoozefest Begins: 10 films versus 5? Let’s try 2 instead.
by Jason Kasperski
Today, movies are less influential than they were 20 or 30 years ago. It is no longer a ‘long form’ world of novels, plays, films or albums. It is now a bite-sized one of text, You Tube videos, itunes playlists and other idioms that a 120 minute film does not fit into.
Which gets us to this point: do you even remember who won Oscars last year? I mean, off the top of your head without looking it up on Google or Wikipedia from your laptop or smartphone?
You don’t have the foggiest idea do you? And neither do I, and I am a lifelong, confirmed movie addict.
Because we no longer care about these awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to create some buzz and jack this year’s best picture format back to 1943. Hey, that’s a great idea, right? We can now have 10 films nominated for best picture as opposed to the elitist 5. That should spark more interest with the masses and encourage higher participation and viewership across the country, and, as the Academy sees it, the world.
Except it’s not working. If the purpose of the move was to add more audience favorites as opposed to critical raves, well, sure that happened. The Blind Side and District 9 are fine examples of that. But, according to the current odds on who has a chance to win best picture, the addition of 5 more movies has not added more competition to the race. It has simply diluted it.
It’s called a race for a reason, and that’s because Las Vegas and London handicappers actually post each nominees chances of winning and take bets on the outcome. The films themselves do not compete, it’s the army of actors, directors, producers and all of their studio-financed publicists that jockey for position in front of potential Academy voters at screenings and special events. That’s where the race is actually run, and it is from this observable forum that odds are calculated.
Right now, Avatar is out way ahead. You’d have to wager nearly 125 dollars just to get back 100, which, as most of you know, makes no sense and is not a good bet. The Hurt Locker is number two, with the odds closer to even money. Beyond those two films, the remaining 8 barely register. The Blind Side is an audience winner but is a 30-1 shot to win the statue. A Serious Man and Up are both 50 to 1. According to past years, these posted odds are extremely reliable and accurately predict the winners.
It seems to me that some Academy votes will be spread out over the spectrum. But had there been only 5 films instead of 10, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker could have benefited and picked up more of that diversified vote. I’ll bet James Cameron is happy about the extra nominees because it allows his gargantuan Avatar to rise even higher above the pack.
But that leaves us with this year’s Oscar storyline: Avatar wins and no one cares.
There is a way to change this. If they want to make the Oscars more interesting I say make it like the presidential election and have only 2 candidates. Yes, 2! The entire country would then be polarized by the warring studio factions and forced to root for one team or the other. They can even print colorful t-shirts with raunchy slogans and hold all night rallies in public squares.
This could make the Oscars and, in turn, movies relevant again. Ten versus five? Forget it. This is not 1943, this is the 21st century where we like our competition to be a take-all bloodsport. This year, it should be Avatar versus The Hurt Locker with only one left standing on March 7th. A battle royale not easily forgotten.
Instead, when next year rolls around, the same question will be asked in restaurants, cafeterias, and barrooms that is being asked now: hey, who won last year?
Jason Kasperski is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles