Oscar Morning

Let me lay down a little truth about the Academy Awards that people get up in arms about every year, that is always true, and no one ever seems to remember.

  1. Oscars are very rarely given for a single performance (or first performance) unless that performance simply cannot be ignored.
  2. Sometimes this backfires on the Academy and they go back and correct the mistake by giving an Oscar to someone who should already have one. If you think Whoopi Goldberg’s performance in Ghost is better than her performance in The Color Purple simply because she has an Oscar for it, this bullet point is for you.
  3. Oscars have traditionally gone for a body of work or a personal achievement as much as for a performance in a particular film. Is Al Pacino’s best work in Scent of a Woman? Is Scorsese’s best direction seen in The Departed? The Academy has been getting away from this in recent years, probably as the voting body moves more into different generations.
  4. Oscars also tend to go to someone who had a great year rather than simply one great film. If you see someone on the ballot like Matthew McConaughey who not only did great lead work in one film but also had a compelling short appearance in a second acclaimed film, pick him or her on your ballot.
  5. There is always a supporting acting award given to kick off the show. It used to always be Best Supporting Actress, if memory serves, but in recent years, they’ve been mixing it up.
  6. The previous winner in the opposite sex acting category will present the Oscar.
  7. Whoever’s hot, young, and good looking right now will present the technical awards in the middle of the show. When you say, “Who?” as a presenter’s name is announced and that presenter is under 30, you are officially old.
  8. At least one Living Legend will be onstage and everyone will stand, as well they should.
  9. The crowd is more likely to stand for Best Actor than for Best Actress.
  10. The host who pleases the crowd in-house will be invited back. The host who pleases the crowd at home while the in-house crowd is silent will never be back. The host who pleases both may get a somewhat permanent gig.
  11. Someone will always wear something odd or unusual, be it shoes or a gown or a color oh-so-originally referred to as “baby poop (color)” or any pink as “Pepto Bismol.” The person is usually a woman and doesn’t care what anyone else’s opinion is.
  12. Someone will be left off the In Memorium film. This is the first year that the theater sound was silenced for broadcast (I find it very hard to believe they all sat on their hands after James Gandolfini), something I’ve advocated for decades. We don’t need an Applause-O-Meter of Death. There will also be at least one “I didn’t know (this person) was still alive.” Well, she’s not now.
  13. Something will break Twitter or Tumblr.
  14. The morning after the awards, everyone becomes a film critic, with Compelling Arguments about why this performance, technical work, script, or film wasn’t “the best” and why. Most of these people have seen only the film they want to defend or they simply like the person they want to defend. It fine – and fun – to do it but don’t get rabid about it. It’s not mathematical. It’s subjective. There’s voting and favorites involved. That’s half the fun. It is a popularity contest (see also Applause-O-Meter of Death) and that’s okay. Don’t bring your latent high school student body president or prom queen bitterness into adulthood, please.
  15. Money and a good campaign can pull an upset. This is known as the Shakespeare In Love Principle or The Weinstein Rule.
  16. Blockbusters get their due in montages, not awards, except in sound and sound mixing, possibly make-up, and maybe Best Song.
  17. The old rule is that Best Picture and Best Director match. This is no longer true.
  18. If you want to know what the truly “best” movies of any given year are, check out the screenplay nominees, both adapted and original.
  19. Some of the best movie being made and best performances are in animated films. Look for some kind of performance Oscar to be created for actors doing voice work within the next ten years.
  20. Someone’s going to disagree with one of these. I give as many fucks as Leo has Oscars.

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