Monday, February 23, 2009

A Little Oscar Ranting

Okay, so I'm gonna preface this bad boy with a bit of a warning--this post is going to be somewhat insane, and, ultimately, pretty useless. But, I need to write about something for today, and maybe this post will make someone chuckle. In any case, here's another warning about today's insane rant:

I don't like the Oscars; I never did, and I never will. You see, I view the Oscars as nothing more than a room full of crazy rich people congratulating themselves for playing dress up. Cynical? Sure. True? You can't deny it.

That said, I tried to watch the Oscars last night. I really did. But, alas, I only made it to about three minutes into Wolverine's song and dance number. And, yes, fine, I understand that Hugh Jackman is an entertaining performer and that his opening act was good and funny and whatever,'s Wolverine.


And dancing.

And singing, while dancing.

So, beyond early channel flipping, I didn't watch last night's ceremony, and while this would normally preclude me from writing about something...well, this time it won't.

And here's why.

The Dark Knight made a billion dollars. In a recession. In the recession to end all recessions. Which means, ostensibly, that there were more than a few people who chose going to see Batman vs. the Joker over buying groceries.

And it wasn't up for Best Picture. Why? Because it was a comic book movie? Because Titanic made similar money and it got a Best Picture award back in 1997? Because too many things blew up during its running-time? Because Christian Bale sounded like he was constipated the whole movie?

Well, perhaps any or all of those reasons played into the flick not being nominated for a major award, other than Heath Ledger's Supporting Actor nod and win (and I'll get to that in a minute). Now, like I said, I think the Oscars are stupid, mostly because they are voted on in a very subjective way.

And, believe me, I get that film is art, and that the performances themselves are art, but my problems with Oscar are the same as my problems with the comics' industry "Oscars," namely the Eisner Awards.

I mean, who can say that one piece of art is "better" than another? Does that just mean a voter liked one film over another, or a particular comic art style over another? Face it, there's just no scientific formula, no college basketball bracket system, nothing beyond someone's (subjective) opinion.

And that doesn't sit well with me.

But I guess that's a whole 'nother argument. So, lemme stick to my Dark Knight rant. Clearly, I don't have the answer for why this movie wasn't up for Best Picture, but I will say that it was a good movie, and clearly one of the most important, and most-watched, movies of 2008. Heck, even its DVD sales are record-setting!

And, for those reasons alone, I think it should have been up for an award. If it doesn't win, fine, at least it was recognized as a crowning achievement in adapting a comic to the screen.

Anyway, rant over, but before I wrap things up, I wanted to say something about Heath Ledger's win last night. I'm stealing this thought from a Kevin Smith podcast, but I think it really puts Ledger's performance in perspective.

Ledger took a character who had already appeared, quite memorably, in a previous movie and made you completely forget about Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the character in 1989's Batman. Now, taking anything away from Nicholson is pretty much impossible...taking the Joker away...well, that's just incredible. So kudos to The Academy for recognizing that.

Oh, and Spicoli won another Oscar. So that's something.

1 comment:

Flashman85 said...

I've heard it suggested that Dark Knight wasn't nominated because the massive ticket and DVD sales already gave it enough recognition.

I don't know if that's a good enough excuse, but I would argue that Heath Ledger--in terms of both his incredible performance and especially his death--is the driving force behind Dark Knight's incredible popularity.

I discussed this a while ago on KP's Take, but the short version is that I believe Ledger's death gave the film more publicity and appeal than it otherwise would have gotten.

Yes, Ledger's performance was stellar, but if he were still alive, would the film have been any more popular than, say, Iron Man, or any of the Best Picture nominees that it outgrossed? For a while there, it was like every time I turned on the TV the news channels were always talking about Heath Ledger and the new Batman movie.

Also, was Dark Knight an altogether excellent flick that was at least as good as any of the Best Picture nominees, or was it a good movie elevated to the heights of greatness by resting on Ledger's shoulders?

If you argue the former, then I can see a valid reason to be upset. If you argue the latter, then Ledger's posthumous Oscar win is as close a Best Picture win for Dark Knight as it deserves. And if you argue that the money the film made proves how good a film it is, then I'd say that all its record-breaking and money-making is recognition enough. 'Tis better to judge the thing by how you measure it.