“The Black Panther Memorial Award"
August 9, 2018 2:24 PM   Subscribe

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced they will be adding a new award category for "popular film.". Critical reaction is not mixed: The Oscars' New 'Popular Film' Award Is An Awful Idea

title: “The Black Panther Memorial Award for Movie That We’re Afraid Won’t Get a Best Picture Nomination”

LA Times: Facing declining Oscars ratings, motion picture academy announces creation of new 'popular film' category

ScreenCrush: AN OSCAR CATEGORY FOR ‘BEST POPULAR FILM’ IS A TERRIBLE IDEA

BBC: Hollywood hits back at new Oscars 'popular film' category

Hollywood Reporter: Oscars Won't Televise All Awards Live, Adds "Popular" Film Category

ScreenRant: Are The Oscars Scared Of Disrespecting Black Panther?

Vanity Fair: The Best-Popular-Movie Oscar Won’t Fix Anything & Yes, Disney Thinks Black Panther Is Best Picture-Worthy

The Ringer: Making Sense of the Oscars’ New “Popular Film” Award & The Oscars Want to Be “Popular” Again, So Let’s Pick the “Popular” Winners of Years Past:
1993: Jurassic Park
1996: Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire [TIE]
1998: There’s Something About Mary
1999: The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project [TIE]
2006: Casino Royale
2008: The Dark Knight
2014: The Lego Movie
2017: The Greatest Showman
posted by the man of twists and turns (77 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
https://twitter.com/MarkHarrisNYC/status/1027265824246124546:

It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy's reaction is, "We need to invent something separate...but equal."
posted by Frayed Knot at 2:31 PM on August 9 [134 favorites]


Okoye: When you said you were going to open Wakanda to the rest of the world, this is not what I imagined.

T'Challa: What did you imagine?

Okoye: The Olympics Oscars, maybe even a Starbucks.
posted by nubs at 2:43 PM on August 9 [14 favorites]


Better ideas to liven up or streamline the Oscars - have a stunt category! Don't only nominate period costume dramas for the costume awards. And if they're pressed for time, make sound mixing and sound editing one category instead of two OR if the members of the academy really believe in the importance of keeping both of those two nearly indistinguishable categories that are often won by the same film, then move them to the unaired technical awards.
posted by thecjm at 2:45 PM on August 9 [12 favorites]


Wouldn't box office numbers automagically pick the winner?
posted by Splunge at 2:45 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


2009: The week in geek: The Dark Knight's Oscars snub is a disgrace
2012: THE REAL REASON OSCAR VOTERS HATE THE DARK KNIGHT (tl;dr: no answers just guessing)
2018: How a Dark Knight Best Picture snub forced the Oscars to change - "The uproar over The Dark Knight’s snub set off a panic within the newly octogenarian Academy. The very next year, their 82nd, the governing body significantly changed the rules for Best Picture. There would now be 10 rather than five nominees."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:46 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Perhaps "Best Picture" can be used for popular mass entertainment and we can add "Best Art film" for the stuff I watch. I wouldn't be offended.
posted by acrasis at 2:57 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


Wouldn't box office numbers automagically pick the winner?

They haven't defined the eligibility rules yet, so while I suspect that the box office numbers will play a role, it may not be the only factor. As far as the overall idea goes, I've not really been paying much attention to the Oscars for years, and this won't change that - I'm already quite aware of the popular movies in a given year, and sometimes even go to see them.
posted by nubs at 3:05 PM on August 9


It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy's reaction is, "We need to invent something separate...but equal."

See also: Get Out, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on February 24, 2017, by Universal Pictures. Upon release, the film was a massive box office success, grossing $255 million worldwide on a $4.5 million budget, earning a net profit of $124 million and becoming 2017's tenth most profitable film. Yet,
some of our new members say they ran into interference from an older, more traditional wing of the Academy when it came to evaluating Peele’s movie. “I had multiple conversations with longtime Academy members who were like, ‘That was not an Oscar film,’” said one new voter. “And I’m like, ‘That’s bullshit. Watch it.’ Honestly, a few of them had not even seen it and they were saying it, so dispelling that kind of thing has been super important.” Said another new Oscar voter, herself a veteran of awards-season campaigns, “I think Get Out is a movie that we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of as an Academy movie two years ago. It doesn’t really fall into any of the boxes that we think these movies do. It came out in February, and that’s almost never worked for Academy … it actually is provocative. It questions everything. It’s brilliant.”
Emphasis mine.

The difference being that the film earned four nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya. Peele became the third person (after Warren Beatty and James L. Brooks) to earn Best Picture, Director and Screenplay nominations for a debut film, and the first black winner for Best Original Screenplay (and fourth overall nominated, after John Singleton, Spike Lee, and Suzanne de Passe).

tll;dr - racism is still rampant, particularly in the older generation of Academy folks.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:09 PM on August 9 [35 favorites]


"And the number one movie in the country was Ass. And that's all it was, for 90 minutes. It won eight Oscars that year."
posted by Catblack at 3:12 PM on August 9 [16 favorites]


I get that the oscars are one way to take the mass/pop culture temperature, but I do not get why so many people give >0 fucks about them. (because I don't think the temp of that culture tells us much)
posted by tummy_rub at 3:40 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Good luck reversing those long term declining viewership trends, The Academy. They're also talking about presenting some of the "lesser" awards during the commercials so they can still fit in all the stupid shit everyone hates rather than give technicians their brief moment in the spotlight, because lord knows we'd all rather sit through an eight-minute interpretive dance Tribute To The Western than a 45-second speech by a non-famous person experiencing the biggest thrill of their professional life.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:40 PM on August 9 [39 favorites]


And to keep on with the critical commentary: Balder and Dash: Oscars Chase Ratings at Expense of Integrity
posted by nubs at 3:45 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Isn’t the lack of more popular films the reason they upped the number of possible best picture nominees to 10 a few years back?
posted by Clustercuss at 3:47 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy's reaction is, "We need to invent something separate...but equal."

The Oscars already recently gave out a Best Picture based almost solely on how much many money it made (LotR: Return of the King). It's probably going to be while before it happens again.

Anyway, I find it amazing that every year there are always countless "I just can't believe movies/music/tv/etc. aren't judged solely on merit!!!" articles that get written. I really can't believe that every year there are just that many people who are just now learning the Oscars/Grammys/Emmys/whatevers are just people voting for every reason besides the whatever is actual "Best". Bill Murray was doing his Oscar Predictions bit on SNL back in the early 80's, for Christ's sake.

While it's different the last couple years because of #MeToo, but there's a reason that all the Hollywood "he's a secret rapist, the real life subject of that movie is an anti-Semite" stuff really gets going once the For Your Consideration billboards go up in town. It's all the various groups putting the knives in each other to try to screw the other guy so their movie/tv show/album/etc. comes out on top.
posted by sideshow at 3:53 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


By "different", I mean people aren't saving up the accusations for awards season.
posted by sideshow at 3:54 PM on August 9


I’m just glad Moonlight won, and I hope more movies like that (black casts/crew, Muslims, women, LGBTQA+) are able to follow in its footsteps.

Down with the Academy judges. They’re mostly old white people.
posted by gucci mane at 4:26 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Sure fire way to win a Best Picture is to shoehorn in something about the magnificent importance of Hollywood. This is why the Shape of Water won, and Argo.

I don’t see any contenders doing that this year. If Black Panther wanted to win it should have had a subplot about somebody trying to shoot a documentary.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:28 PM on August 9 [20 favorites]


I don't think there is anyway to save the Oscars or make them actually relevant. If we must keep them have it focus on technical achievement or something more tangible otherwise put a bullet in it and dump it into a shallow grave. We'd all be better off.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:42 PM on August 9


I'll watch the Academy Awards when they have televised awards shows for janitors, teachers, and other people who are vital to the functioning of society. I don't begrudge entertainers their awards, but I find the entire award show thing incredibly boring and unnecessary.

That said, if they must do it, then they should stop with the snobbery and consider "popular" films for the awards - and I agree it smacks of racism to create a new award this year when many would argue that Black Panther should have been considered for the marquee awards.
posted by jzb at 5:39 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I’d be cool if they did away with best picture and replaced it with “the most kickass film” with black panther as the only option an added “the dickest move” with infinity wars as the only option.
posted by nikaspark at 5:45 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Only two posts above "The Meg." Coincidence?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:46 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Until the Academy realizes that Oscar-nominated/Oscar-winning has become its own snake-eating-its-tail, ossified genre, they won't gain any more relevance. These awards are supposedly meant to reward achievement in film-making regardless of genre, right? And yet the same kinds of movies are nominated year after year, and they're movies the vast majority of people don't care about and will never see. Oscar-bait is very nearly a pejorative. Giving out a whole new award for "popular" movies won't fix that, it's just some separate but equal bullshit. And yeah, I absolutely immediately assumed this move was a panicked response to Black Panther's Oscar campaign. Like, god forbid the Oscars reward an astonishingly successful, thoughtfully made movie that was nearly universally praised. But oh no, it's got superheroes in it, and a nearly all black cast! That's just not Oscar material!

God, imagine getting this bullshit separate-but-equal award: your movie's good, it made boatloads of money, but it's just not the proper sort of movie, you know? So take this consolation prize where we recognize you were massively culturally relevant, critically acclaimed, and successful, but don't want to acknowledge that in the traditional way because then Oscarbait 2018 won't get its due.

Expand the Academy's voting pool to drown out the old white men, that's the only thing that will bring the institution up to speed.
posted by yasaman at 5:46 PM on August 9 [19 favorites]


Anyway, I find it amazing that every year there are always countless "I just can't believe movies/music/tv/etc. aren't judged solely on merit!!!" articles that get written. I really can't believe that every year there are just that many people who are just now learning the Oscars/Grammys/Emmys/whatevers are just people voting for every reason besides the whatever is actual "Best".

I keep seeing arguments like this on social media and such, and I seriously don't get it. It's always in response to people being outraged about something and, I mean, don't you get that someone can be outraged anew by shit they have just seen too many times? It's not that they're surprised, it's that they're pissed! What's the alternative, that people just shrug and just say "oh well, this happens all the time, which I have accepted because I am Smart and Jaded" and nothing ever changes?

Sorry, I don't mean to pick on your comment exactly, I just keep seeing this kind of sentiment and it really baffles me.
posted by lunasol at 5:48 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Until the Academy realizes that Oscar-nominated/Oscar-winning has become its own snake-eating-its-tail, ossified genre, they won't gain any more relevance.

Exactly. This move struck me as acknowledging that some part of the Academy still thinks Best Picture should mean Best Achievement in White People Emoting.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:49 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Looking forward to the upcoming "Best Unpopular Film" award. Also best actor/actress in a popular/unpopular film, similar awards for writers, directors, cinematographers, composers, etc. Oscars™ for everyone!
posted by TedW at 6:02 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Perhaps "Best Picture" can be used for popular mass entertainment and we can add "Best Art film" for the stuff I watch.

The very first Oscars did literally exactly this. In 1929, they had an award for "Outstanding Picture", which went to Wings, a more mainstream-y kind of film about the First World War; they also had an award for "Unique And Artistic Picture", which went to a film called Sunrise, which was more of a romantic drama. The following year they scrapped the "Unique and Artistic Picture" category and gave out only the one "Best Picture" category.

I've been kind of fascinated by this development because it's kind of like, "hey, it's 'Unique and Artistic Picture' again, sort of."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


The Achievement in Unpopular Film award has been with us for some time. Halle Berry even accepted hers in person for Catwoman, IIRC.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:07 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


The Oscars already recently gave out a Best Picture based almost solely on how much many money it made (LotR: Return of the King).

Isn't that an indicator of a whole different Academy weirdness, that they often give later awards to make up for earlier oversights? (I mean, pick either Fellowship or The Two Towers, both better films.)
posted by rokusan at 6:21 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I've come to hate all award shows and I really don't care what they do, but The Academy should decide if they're presenting awards to truly honor quality in cinema, or simply putting on a TV show to sell commercials. They can't have it both ways.
posted by davebush at 6:23 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Better ideas to liven up or streamline the Oscars - have a stunt category!

Incentivising spectacular stunts will probably encourage dead stuntmen.
posted by Merus at 6:45 PM on August 9


I can't remember where I heard it, but it really does help if you replace "best" with "most" in any given Oscar category. "Most soundtrack." "Most special effects." "Most actor."

I have nothing more to contribute.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:45 PM on August 9 [32 favorites]


Incentivising spectacular stunts will probably encourage dead stuntmen.

Better not tell stunt performers about the Taurus Awards.
posted by edeezy at 6:50 PM on August 9


I trust stunt professionals to judge their own awards, in the same way that the animation Oscar is garbage while the Annies are generally pretty indicative of the best work in the field.
posted by Merus at 6:59 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Best Animated Oscar and Best Feature Annie agree 12 out of the 17 years the Oscar's been awarded and their nominees largely agree every year. I bet a stunt Oscar would go to a decent pick.

Anyways, if they wanted to make the Oscars interesting they'd have a small jury that changed each year. That's of course not what they want.
posted by edeezy at 7:11 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Award show are the very definition of a popularity contest. The winner of the Best Picture award has rarely actually been what the critics would consider the best picture. It was generally what was the most of popular among academy voters, which skews white, wealthy, and conservative. This is how we get the winners we do.
posted by evilDoug at 7:56 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Isn't that an indicator of a whole different Academy weirdness, that they often give later awards to make up for earlier oversights? (I mean, pick either Fellowship or The Two Towers, both better films.)

It's even weirder in that case, though. It wasn't an oversight, it was an intentional delay. If they gave the award to Fellowship and the follow-on movies were as good, they might have to (horror of horrors) recognize a genre movie two years in a row. So uncivilized! So they waited but then RotK was a little underwhelming but too late, can't go back now ...
posted by tocts at 8:35 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


[Get Out] came out in February, and that’s almost never worked for the Academy

The big five Oscars are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (either Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay).

Three movies in history have won all five. Two of them were released in February.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:43 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


"Unique And Artistic Picture", which went to a film called Sunrise, which was more of a romantic drama.

While yeah its a romantic drama but that's underselling it a bit. Its an Expressionist romantic drama by the great German director F.W. Murnau and happens to be his first Hollywood film. It features incredible stylised sets, innovative camera techniques, long sections without title cards which add to its cinematic quality. It is widely considered one of the great films of the 20th Century and can be accurately described as a "Unique And Artistic Picture". By the standard set by Sunrise, I doubt many films released in 2018 would measure up.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:32 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Since 75% of all movies released these days are superhero movies, they needed a way to let some of them win something.
posted by M-x shell at 9:45 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Down with the Academy judges. They’re mostly old white people. I remember filling out Academy ballots as a teenager. My boyfriend's dad was a member and couldn't be bothered. The boyfriend told me this was standard, and I still believe him; it was before members could easily watch films in their homes. Just because you were an Academy member didn't mean you gave a shit.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:40 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


At this point, The Oscars have evolved into something whose sole purpose is to get people interested in buying tickets to go see movies in theaters. Go ahead and have the conversation at your next viewing party where there’s a pool and people have filled out their own ballots. Even if you have seen a majority of the nominated films you don’t win by picking the ones you think were best, you win by guessing the interests of the Academy and watching the media buzz about certain films and stars. Hell, it is possible to win your Oscar pool without seeing *any* of the films and just reading Entertainment Weekly. With this frame of reference, “Best Popular Film” is another fun category to watch with your friends and possibly put a few more butts in theater seats.

I think it’s time to promote a new awards show where working industry professionals (and perhaps a few really insightful critics or academicians) vote for the film s of the year that really impressed them with their technical excellence. Let writers vote on screenplay, cinematographers vote on cinematography, actors vote on acting, etc. That would be much more interesting to me and would likely include films I’d never heard of that had pulled off something really technically excellent even if maybe the acting wasn’t so good and they didn’t sell a lot of tickets.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:26 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I mean Best Domentary is a perfect example. I’m much more interested in what documentarians think made a great documentary rather that the general Academy. As much as I’m down with Michael Moore’s politics, I’d like to know what was actually good next year instead of watching his inevitable acceptance speech for Fahrenheit 11/9
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:36 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Slarty, the mechanism you describe is how films are nominated for Academy Awards. Writers nominate writers, and so on. But once the shortlists are made (the nominees we hear about), any Academy member can make a choice in any category... which is probably wrong, as you note.
posted by rokusan at 12:50 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Seems like the main thing this would do is make Best Picture even more irrelevant to the average moviegoer.
posted by ckape at 1:41 AM on August 10


Okay, sorry, Lee. I just wanna tell you that Coming Home in a Body Bag is one of my favorite movies. After Apocalypse Now, I think it's the best Vietnam movie ever. You know, most movies that win a lot of Oscars, I can't stand. Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People, Kramer vs. Kramer, Gandhi. All that stuff is safe, geriatric, coffee table, dog shit. Like that Merchant Ivory claptrap. All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books. They aren't plays, they're not books, they certainly ain't movies, they're films. And do you know what films are? They're for people who don't like movies. Mad Max, that's a movie. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, that's a movie. Rio Bravo, that's a movie. Rumblefish, that's a fuckin' movie. And Coming Home in a Body Bag, that's a movie. It was the first movie with balls to win a lot of Oscars since Deerhunter.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:23 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Riddle me this Batman. The Oscars air on ABC.
ABC is owned by Disney.
Disney has won 26 Oscars.
BUT NEVER BEST PICTURE.

Makes me wonder if the Mouse is behind this nonsense....?
posted by pjsky at 2:27 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I'll watch the Academy Awards when they have televised awards shows for janitors, teachers, and other people who are vital to the functioning of society. I don't begrudge entertainers their awards, but I find the entire award show thing incredibly boring and unnecessary.

And the winner for most Metafilter comment of 2018 is...
posted by atrazine at 3:57 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


And the winner for most Metafilter comment of 2018 is...

*rips open envelope*

...atrazine, with "And the winner for most Metafilter comment of 2018 is..."!
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:00 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]


It's panthers all the way down.
posted by atrazine at 4:07 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Fearfulsymmetry, there might be somebody somewhere that agrees with you more than I do, but I wouldn't count on it.
posted by rokusan at 4:36 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Since Lindsay Ellis has gotten a couple of FPPs recently, I'll note that her takedown of Bright includes a short but potent bit at the beginning as to why movies such as Crash get Oscars in years that have way more worthy contenders in the Best Picture category.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:58 AM on August 10


I don't watch superhero/comic book movies at all, but there is nothing wrong with popular movies with lots of explosions having an award category of their own. (Not that the studios need more encouragement to keep churning out those movies, but anyway.)

But specific to Black Panther, from the reviews I've read and how much my spouse liked it, it sounds like a movie of sufficient quality and cultural importance to deserve consideration in the traditional categories. If a superhero movie is genuinely good (as compared to just good-for-a-superhero-movie), give it the courtesy of that consideration, don't shove it off into the separate category. The biases (particularly racial) of the Academy are not very well hidden and are hindering their search for renewed relevance.

I don’t see any contenders doing that this year. If Black Panther wanted to win it should have had a subplot about somebody trying to shoot a documentary.

It would need to be a white male documentary maker, of course.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:44 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Disney has won 26 Oscars.
BUT NEVER BEST PICTURE.


Shakespeare in Love was produced by Disney owned Miramax.
posted by octothorpe at 5:45 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Only two posts above "The Meg." Coincidence?

Jason Statham's The Meg, surely? Like when it's Catherine Cookson's The Menagerie.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:18 AM on August 10


Exactly. This move struck me as acknowledging that some part of the Academy still thinks Best Picture should mean Best Achievement in White People Emoting.

I do not know anything about the movie Boyhood except the title and that I think it was nominated for best picture? And might have won? I don't know on account of I don't watch many movies, but I am 100% sure, based purely on the title, that the movie is about the assumption that white, straight, middle-class male childhood in the United States is a universal experience and that evoking nostalgia based on this means that it deserves to win awards because we can all relate to those feelings because this exact experience happened to everyone. Is this right? Honestly I will be extremely much more surprised if I'm wrong.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:41 AM on August 10


While yeah [sunrise is] a romantic drama but that's underselling it a bit.

The technical achievements you mention are all true, but I actually found that it felt more like "you know that 2-minute montage of the main characters going on dates at like fairs and walks in the park and stuff when they're trying to indicate 'they're falling in love'? What if they made 60% of the whole movie an extended one of those montages?"

I mean, the stuff that comes before it sets it up well and the whole thing sets you up for that twist at the end, but the cinematography and the style does not always necessarily carry a story that isn't 100% "there".

(And that carnival game with the piglets completely confused me.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on August 10


great. even more reasons to continue not watching the oscars.
posted by Bwentman at 7:53 AM on August 10


But specific to Black Panther, from the reviews I've read and how much my spouse liked it, it sounds like a movie of sufficient quality and cultural importance to deserve consideration in the traditional categories

I loved Black Panther. It's one of the better Marvel movies. But even the best Marvel movies are still bloated-budget, set-piece popcorn adventures that when you strip away the massive effects expenditures are a lot of okay-I-guess writing and actors starting at green screen puppets who deserve far more recognition than that movie as a whole... and those guys are getting screwed even moreso by this "oh you don't care about special effects awards so we'll move them to the commercials" decision.

I blame the Academy for this news, but it's just as much fandom and the way Liking a Thing is revered's fault. The reward for a movie being very popular used to be it making a lot of money, but we have a culture now where the audience of a popular thing feels they need to be rewarded for, well, rewarding the movie I guess.

I accepted years ago that I would be the sad lonely man dying on the hill in my observation that The Dark Knight is, you know, not actually that good a movie. The script makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and the acting is one person putting on a pretty amazing performance against a group of people who are all putting on terrible ones.

What The Dark Knight DID do, whatever, was set the stage for further ruining the Oscars, because that was the year fandom finally made enough of a hissy fit about believing that Liking a Thing made it Oscar-worthy, to a degree where the Acadamy shrugged and announced that there would now be NINE Best Picture nominees, specifically to add four more movies that had no chance ever, in any way, are you even serious here, just to make people who liked those movies feel good about it.

And that's where we are now, ten years later, securing the cultural belief that the Oscars are your middle school's student council election. In conclusion, my lawn.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:26 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]


but the cinematography and the style does not always necessarily carry a story that isn't 100% "there".

Wow... Ok. Different strokes I guess. Though you may not have connected with it, many people at the time and the 90 years since its release have considered it an important artistic achievement and surpasses the commonplace melodrama of its basic storyline. Personally, I think we'd be lucky to get anything near as innovative and interesting as Sunrise in a decade's worth of film let alone a year's worth. While I enjoyed Black Panther well enough I'm not sure it will still resonate with people 90 years from now.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:26 AM on August 10


I do not know anything about the movie Boyhood except the title. I don't know on account of I don't watch many movies, but I am 100% sure, based purely on the title, ... Is this right? Honestly I will be extremely much more surprised if I'm wrong.

Surprise! You're wrong! But since you refuse to even watch the movie and just go on your assumptions, you don't know how wrong you are, and probably don't really care.

Boyhood was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The only category it won in was Best Supporting Actress. Patricia Arquette got the Oscar for playing a mother.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:37 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


Wow... Ok. Different strokes I guess. Though you may not have connected with it, many people at the time and the 90 years since its release have considered it an important artistic achievement and surpasses the commonplace melodrama of its basic storyline.

...I'm rereading what I wrote and I was a little harsh, I agree. May I try again?

I absolutely agree that it was a significant artistic achievement technically. The story itself, though, didn't connect with me. Not that it was terrible, mind you. It also was indeed better than the standard melodrama.

However, for me, it still just plain didn't connect. It was like - back when I was doing a lot more reviewing of plays, the most painful part of the process wasn't trying to think up things to say about the really good plays, or the really bad ones. It was trying to figure out what to say about the big huge group in the middle of the bell curve. Some were better than others, but....*shrug*. Sunrise, for me, was one of the more better "meh" ones. And that is ultimately (as you will recall the comment that started the conversation) I said it was a "romantic drama" and left it at that. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the Best Thing I'd Ever Seen, either.

But as with anything in art, your mileage may vary, and I have no problem with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on August 10


If they want to increase buzz by nominating more popular movies, they could get rid of some of the "obvious"-but-not-actually-worthy Best Picture nominees and replace them with movies that were both popular and good.

I saw every one of last year's Best Picture nominees (first time I've done that, to my knowledge), and frankly I found Darkest Hour and The Post kind of forgettable, but they were obvious Oscar-bait movies. Knock those out and swap in Logan and Coco, two top-25 box office movies which were also legitimately good.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:02 AM on August 10


But as with anything in art, your mileage may vary, and I have no problem with that.

Nor do I so I'll leave it there.

The Oscars have always had that tension between the percieved worthiness of the film (as determined by peers within the industry) and the capitalistic value that a film brings to the industry. When you look through the previous best pictures particularly you see some of that tension in the winners and losers. In more recent times they seem largely an extension of the marketing of the films by the studios. So I wonder as studios continue to get absorbed into larger corporate monoliths if the awards have outlasted their purpose.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:08 AM on August 10


"Jason Statham's The Meg" should win this ultimately useless token award, but only if he punches the shark in the throat. Black Panther was good, but not 'omg best evar' category. Possibly due to a lack of shark-punching.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:36 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


The Oscars have always had that tension between the percieved worthiness of the film (as determined by peers within the industry) and the capitalistic value that a film brings to the industry. When you look through the previous best pictures particularly you see some of that tension in the winners and losers.

That's what I'm fascinated by, actually; I'm curious whether this additional award might actually take some of the mercenary pressure off, you know? Meaning that maybe the more money-hungry marketers may shift their focus to promoting the big blockbuster stuff, and there's a bit more breathing room for some of the smaller films.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on August 10


The Oscars have always been crass. Its new award for popular film just embraces that.
Indeed, the Academy and its Oscars were invented to pander, to sell more tickets to more Hollywood films. This new category isn’t a change to its agenda; it was the agenda all along.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:00 PM on August 10


I do not know anything about the movie Boyhood except the title and that I think it was nominated for best picture? And might have won? I don't know on account of I don't watch many movies, but I am 100% sure, based purely on the title, that the movie is about the assumption that white, straight, middle-class male childhood in the United States is a universal experience and that evoking nostalgia based on this means that it deserves to win awards because we can all relate to those feelings because this exact experience happened to everyone. Is this right? Honestly I will be extremely much more surprised if I'm wrong.

What an odd way to judge movies.
posted by davebush at 6:48 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I honestly feel like the Oscars would be better off if they created a rubric for what a really good, innovative movie does, because right now they have a tendency to pick smaller, artistic movies that seem important, but (crucial point!) are depressing. Like, their depressingness seems to be the most important artistic point a lot of years. Depressing is shorthand for "complex" for a lot of academy voters. "Only people with elevated tastes can enjoy something this dark!" they cackle to themselves as they fill out their ballots.

In the alternative, I'd like to them to have two best pictures categories, like the Globes do for comedy and drama. But unlike the Globes, they should be honest, and name the categories "happy ending" and "sad or complicated ending."* Then movies like Black Panther and The Martian could get their due while the latest Sad White Men Go To War And Are Sad About It epic could be in the sad/complicated ending category. Because I'm really tired of overblown war movies that don't winpushing happy-ending movies out of Best Picture contention just because old white men are SO SAD about all the war.

*The Globes totally put everything with a happy ending in the "comedy" category even when it is obviously not a comedy even a little.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:29 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I might name the new award "Most Entertaining" and rename Best Picture as "Most Watchable Studio Picture with Art House Pretense and Some 'Courageous' Message or Casting that Manages to Align Perfectly With the Politics of 99% of Hollywood And/Or Hagiography of Someone(s) Already in the Canon of Civil Saints or Approved Martyrs."
posted by MattD at 8:01 PM on August 10


The Globes totally put everything with a happy ending in the "comedy" category even when it is obviously not a comedy even a little.

Also all musicals (the category technically is Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy). I don’t recall Evita or Les Misérables being laff riots, but they are two past GG winners in the category. Looking down the list of winners for the last quarter-century, the only out-and-out comedy to win it that I can see is The Hangover. 25 years ago, it went to Mrs. Doubtfire for a category that seems more like “Attempted Comedy”*.

*And if there are people who honestly think ninety minutes of falsetto Robin Williams in drag is more entertaining than Strictly Ballroom or the Branagh Much Ado About Nothing, I am pretty glad I have not met them.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:17 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


*The Globes totally put everything with a happy ending in the "comedy" category even when it is obviously not a comedy even a little.

Hey, I laughed a few times during The Martian.
posted by octothorpe at 8:39 AM on August 11


I accepted years ago that I would be the sad lonely man dying on the hill in my observation that The Dark Knight is, you know, not actually that good a movie.

You are alone no longer.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:41 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Hey, I laughed a few times during The Martian.

"Project Elrond" did it for me, as this incredibly overwrought article describes.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:45 AM on August 11


Overwrought is right. It takes an entire article to say "Project Elrond was funny because Sean Bean was sitting right there".
posted by octothorpe at 12:38 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


*The Globes totally put everything with a happy ending in the "comedy" category even when it is obviously not a comedy even a little.

I want to say the producers submitting the work to the Globes get to pick the category they are up for so that allows for some strategy if you want to avoid a front runner in the other category.
posted by mmascolino at 8:26 AM on August 12


I honestly feel like the Oscars would be better off if they created a rubric for what a really good, innovative movie does, because right now they have a tendency to pick smaller, artistic movies that seem important, but (crucial point!) are depressing.

Wait, what? Was ARGO depressing? What about SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE? Or THE ARTIST?

Was MOONLIGHT depressing? I mean, yeah, I cried but I found it invigorating. There’s nothing “depressing” about that. There’s a reason people love sad songs, you know — why “Losing My Religion” is more fondly remembered than “Shiny Happy People.” One of the things movies, like music, do really well is melancholy. Loss. Yearning. Happy endings are a dime a dozen, but a movie that makes you ache? To me that’s a special thing, a shared experience and a salve for feelings of isolation or loneliness. Sure, the Oscars have problems, but I don’t think opting for feel-good endings over complexity solves anything.

And, anyway, what do you do with something like THREE BILLBOARDS, where some people see a redemption story with a happy ending, and some people see something more troubling and ambiguous? Which category?

I didn’t really think SPOTLIGHT was depressing either. Hell of a story, but righteous journalism, like bustin’, makes me feel good.
posted by Mothlight at 9:32 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I accepted years ago that I would be the sad lonely man dying on the hill in my observation that The Dark Knight is, you know, not actually that good a movie

Yeah it's very much an average film down right bad in many ways.... as you say the plot makes no sense (just google 'Dark Knight plot holes') and the action scenes are terrible (google 'Dark Knight bad fight choreography' and watch this video).

But it was raised up above its mediocrity by the tragic death of one of its stars (who put in a 'look at me' performance) and held aloft by a billion fan boys (and so there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when it was 'snubbed')
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:54 AM on August 12


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