Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why No One Was Really "Robbed" in Oscar Snubs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 4:40 PM


So, one month from tonight the 84th Academy Awards will take place, and Twitter will light afire with the spurned bleating of people who didn't like the films that won. It's already on fire with people who don't like the nominations. Whether it be the snubs (Albert Brooks, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, etc) or the odd inclusions (Extremely Close), everyone is in rage mode.

It happens every year, and we have some sort of battered woman syndrome about it. But the Oscars have never been a populist award. Firstly, the Oscars was Louie B. Mayer's brainchild to keep the guilds and unions in line (and to award themselves some gold as well). It's since morphed into a strange Hollywood political virus that is almost as scrutinized as a Presidential election. It's silly.

Secondly, this is an incredibly narrow voting population. The various Best Picture awards are voted on by about 5,500 (mostly) rich, (mostly) old, (mostly) white (mostly) artsy fartsy types who (mostly) live in the Hollywood braincloud.

Of course they didn't like Drive. Too subversive and head stompy.

Of course they didn't like Young Adult. Jason Reitman is a prick and doesn't care who knows it, Charlize Theron already won.

Of course they didn't like Shame. Sex addiction wasn't made dirty enough.

Of course they loved Hugo. They love Paris and movies, just like Hugo.

Of course they loved The Artist. They've struggled to deal with changes in the industry too.

Of course they loved The Help. Write your own joke.

This is a body that consistently has voted for cheerful mediocrity above all (except for the 70s when they actually had too many great films to choose from to get it too wrong). I refer to you past winners, such as Forrest Gump, Gladiator, Driving Mrs Daisy. (Don't get me started on Crash.)

You don't even have to look beyond last year, when The King's Speech won over The Social Network. How many of you have re-watched The King's Speech? Be honest. I haven't. You probably haven't either. A lot of you probably never watched it at all, which is perfectly acceptable.

For the individual awards, each Academy branch votes for its own (actors branch for actors awards, writers branch for writers awards, etc). By far the largest branch, the Actors Branch consists of about 1,200 members. The Writers Branch, 375. Most branches are under 300 voters, some branches are even under 200. For contrast, the SAG awards are voted on by about 200,000 members, while the WGA awards are voted on by about 25,000 members between the East and West factions.

They should probably rename the award Best Picture According to this Very Narrow Group of Insiders Who Have Been Lobbied Very Hard.

Look, an Oscar is probably a wonderful thing to win. It probably is a complete honor to be nominated, but it's still something like running for high school class president. "Snubbed" actors should take just as much from the fan outrage about them not being nominated. We love you, we really love you. Honest. Just plug your name into the Twitter search box and you'll see.

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