By now, I’ve seen many of the main Oscar nominees – all but Munich for the Best Picture category – but I’m strangely neutral about who I want to win. Most years I either desperately want a particular film to win (Pulp Fiction: because I adored Forrest Gump, but c’mon), or desperately don’t want a particular film to win (Titanic: I enjoyed it — OK, shut up, I cried — but I thought its box office appeal far outweighed its overall merit). I’m often doomed to disappointment.
I know I keep saying how much I love awards ceremonies, but I’m not masochistic enough to watch them all the way through. Sometimes they’re on in the background while I do something else (I painted my kitchen during the 2003 Oscars) and I pay attention only when an award or celebrity I care about is onscreen (I raced from the kitchen, paint-splattered, when I heard Mexican cutie Gael Garcia Bernal’s name unexpectedly announced from the living room).
Sometimes I get together with friends to watch and bet on the outcome. The rule is we have to guess in every category, even the ones no one cares about or understands, so our attention wavers less those years as we mark off our scorecards. Besides, it’s amazing how wagering, alcohol, and catty conversation can smooth out the boring bits.
Anyway, life always — well, almost always — comes before TV, and I might miss a good chunk of this year’s ceremony in order to go lose at volleyball. But I won’t let that stop me from sharing some random pre-Oscar thoughts:
- I find it odd that Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for supporting actor for Brokeback Mountain, when in a movie about a straight romance, either he or Heath Ledger would have been a contender as lead actress (well, not Gyllenhaal or Ledger, then, but you know what I mean). Sure, it gives them both a chance to win, but it’s a little ludicrous that in the same category, you can have a co-lead as well as an actor who gets 10 minutes of screen time, like William Hurt in A History of Violence. But like the is-it-comedy-or-is-it-drama debate with the Emmys, there seems to be no good way to enforce consistency.
- None of the five best picture nominees had a female lead at all (though you could argue the ensemble of Crash doesn’t have any leads). The discussion about gender disparity in Hollywood isn’t going away any time soon.
- The last thing we need is additional awards categories and the resulting additional ceremony length, but it’s too bad that well-executed comedy very rarely gets recognition from the Academy, pitted against weighty themes like homophobia, racism, terrorism, and media responsibility. I’d rather replace the comedy-doesn’t-get-its-due lament with the is-it-comedy-or-is-it-drama lament …
- … so, I know it’s not going to happen, but I’d like the Oscars and Golden Globes to marry and have an awards ceremony baby to replace them both. The Globes DNA would provide a televised show of only the categories I care about, a culture of fun acceptance awards, and a separation of drama and comedy. The Oscar DNA would provide the prestige and not-laughable voting membership.
- A prediction: following the almost-inevitable low ratings of this year’s awards show, some will point the finger at host Jon Stewart’s niche appeal, forgetting the absence of a Lord of the Rings or Titanic blockbuster. He’s a brave man, but I suspect he’ll get comedy out of it either way.