July 23, 2024

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Why The Oscars Suck: Best Picture Nominations

This may have something to do with today’s column. Or it doesn’t. Only you can decide.

Dear Oscars,

You suck for so many reasons it’s hard to pick just one. You are a self-congratulatory, over-hyped, out-of-touch celebration of how you don’t understand your audience. You pile heaps of affection onto movies that most of your audience didn’t see and couldn’t care about. You are bland, boring, predictable, boring, elitist, and boring. But I’ve been told I can only focus on a single area of your suckitude so I picked why you suck on your biggest award: Best Picture.

Here’s your typical Best Picture nominee. It’s a period piece that stars people who, despite living in a time of rampant disease, decreased access to indoor plumbing, and virtually no social norms on the removal of body hair still manage to look like a healthy, bathed, and waxed person wearing a costume. Your critics will fall all over themselves celebrating your authenticity.

Your story will involve a single individual facing insurmountable odds. He (let’s face it, probably a dude) is given ludicrous help by too many people to count and yet will be seen as possessing an inner strength that leads to triumphing over brutal odds and celebrating human spirit. The reality is that human spirit would have gotten that person killed and their body rolled into a ditch within about five minutes back in the day. But that’s a documentary. And you’ve never named a documentary the Best Picture, have you?

Your Best Picture nominees will be about a white man 70% of the time, a white woman trying to make it in a man’s world 25% of the time, and a hero of color the other 5%. The hero of color will never win unless you surround them by some well known white guys who bravely sacrifice screen time in the pursuit of art/something to talk about on The Tonight Show.

Jesus Pitt cares about slavery.
Jesus Pitt cares about slavery.

Your nominated films will have sweeping music.  They will have oceans and mountains and vistas.  And, the vast majority of the time, they will suck.

I am not being harsh, Oscars.  You know this is true.  It’s been true for a long, long time.

Which is why in 2009 you made a great decision to expand the nominations from 5 to more than 5. True, the nomination process is an incredibly complicated one that is done by hand and in secret, probably by white guys facing insurmountable odds so that eventually you can make a Best Picture nominated film about nominating films for Best Picture.  But at least you attempted to bring some movies into the fold that otherwise were being ignored.  Because even though the Oscars are a giant Hollywood circle-jerk, you also know it’s good for business.  Nominated films can do anywhere from 18% to 32% more business thanks to their nomination.

In 2009 you let Up and District 9 into the Best Picture category.  Two great films that otherwise would have been left out in the cold.  Excellent move.  Bold move.  Good move.  You followed it up in 2010 by including Inception and Toy Story 3.  Outstanding! Then you decided to mess it up like a cheap Marvel knock off.

Best Picture nominations after 2009.

In 2011 your most diverse film had a horse.  In 2012 your closest nomination to science fiction was Les Miserables if only because it could be retconned as a Wolverine story.

"Putting me in prison was the wrong move, bub. Lemme sing about it."
“Putting me in prison was the wrong move, bub. Lemme sing about it.”

In 2013 you tried to make amends by including Gravity but then you went back to your lame ways with this year’s crop. Because even though you have more than 5 nominees it doesn’t matter. Pick any of these 5 and it looks like any other year with 5 nominees. You have 4 boring films and maybe you let Selma sit in the front of the bus for a block or two.

Let’s recap your nominees this year:

  • White male scientist must overcome his personal condition to make giant contributions to science
  • Another white male scientist must overcome his personal condition to make giant contributions to science
  • White male soldier must overcome those five minutes he couldn’t hit a target to kill dozens of people from far away
  • White male actor must overcome being considered a joke by pretending to have superpowers while directing himself on Broadway
  • Selma
  • White male must overcome time and a seven-year contract to be filmed over a period of 12 years while becoming an older white male
  • White male must overcome his inability to drum a double swing beat
  • Old white male must overcome his old age to remember the quirky years working in a quirky hotel

If this was a true snapshot of all the movies you made in 2014 your entire industry would be voluntarily euthanized. You know that you made movies about talking trees and raccoons in space, the infiltration and attempted takeover of the US government by a secret organization operating since WWII, and super intelligent apes battling for equal social standing against the remnants of humankind while also struggling to come to grips with their own animal nature? Yeah, might be hard to remember those three films that made a combined $800 million at the box office. Hell, if Sniper hadn’t saved your sorry asses the only way your entire Best Picture category could’ve made that much was by cutting them a check for about $750 million.

How can you fix this? Oh, you don’t care but I’m gonna tell you anyway. It’s simple: take all your precious little ballots that are voted, sorted, rated, lovingly caressed with goose down and Barbara Streisand tickets and multiple them by their domestic box office. That should be their true vote count. Then pick your top 5, 6, who cares? At least now you have a relevant list again. A list that doesn’t reward films opening up New Year’s Eve on two screens. A list that doesn’t include movies who barely made enough to cover their poster printing costs.

Look, I enjoyed Whiplash. Nice film. But despite all the love you tossed its way that movie only made $10 million more than my movie and I didn’t make a god damn movie last year.

You won’t listen to me, Oscars. Why would you when the only people patting you on the back more than the public are yourselves. But I want you to know that we know you’re a joke. And that you could be better if you didn’t try so hard at autofalacio.

Until then, just know you suck.