Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Hugh Jackman Enough Incentive to Sit Through the Academy Awards?

So, the Academy Awards are almost here. Am I alone with the whoop-de-do feeling? I used to like to watch the Academy Awards. But then, I actually could claim to have seen the movies. Remember when "Titanic" was nominated? I don't know if the movie was as good as I thought it was, but at least I saw it. Last year the only movie I cared about was "No Country for Old Men." This year..... Well, I'd care if "The Dark Knight" had been nominated. And that's kind of the crux of it for me. The only draw to the awards show this year is to see if Heath Ledger wins for "The Dark Knight" and to see my favorite crush, who just happens to be hosting this year, Hugh Jackman. I guess I'm not alone either. While cruising the net today I came across this article about this year's show and the lack of interest-- even among the celebrities who were nominated. I can report that this year's producers are privately complaining that the biggest movie stars in the world like Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Kate Winslet gave them reasons galore -- some serious, some trivial -- for why they didn't want to present awards, once considered a huge honor. (For instance, Kidman said she [won't] appear onstage without the "right" hairdresser. George Clooney wouldn't reschedule his current visit to Darfur refugee camps in Africa. And Winslet, the Best Actress shoo-in, claimed she was too "nervous" to take it on.) One of the few bigtime actresses who didn't balk was Reese Witherspoon. These behind-the-scenes embarrassments are one reason why the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences took the unprecedented step this year of failing to make public the list of Oscar presenters. There's even talk now of bringing back those official $100,000+ Oscar baskets of expensive freebies that used to be given to the show's presenters and performers (before Uncle Sam decided to tax the giveaways) as a way to bribe Hollywood into lending its star power. And Meanwhile, a group of online bloggers has led an audience boycott of the Oscars among the predominantly male fans of The Dark Knight because of the Academy voters' snub of the $1 billion-in-worldwide-grosses comic book caper for a Best Picture nomination and its Chris Nolan for Best Director. And that's yet another problem that hurts viewership: this year, too, the most popular movies aren't in contention for the major category Academy Awards. That drives away younger viewers. So it's little wonder that ABC in this economic freefall scrambled to drop prices for 30-second ads and replace two of the key sponsors for its Sunday broadcast, General Motors and L'Oreal. Not even the prospect of 30+ million U.S. viewers could lure advertisers who've cut their TV budgets to the bone. Prices for Oscars spots averaged $1.7 million last year, but now are going for as cheap as $1.4 million. The result is that, in a departure from tradition, parent company Walt Disney had to let its rival movie studios buy time on the telecast. Wow. Where has all the glamor gone? I have stated before that I believe that the biggest problem with the way Hollywood passes out awards these days is that honest-to-goodness good movies aren't really in the running anymore; at least most of the time. It's become all about the vehicle movies like the yearly Holocaust films like "The Piano" and "The Reader" that are almost automatically nominated due to the fact that they have a Holocaust setting-- not based on merit. Perhaps the new breed of Holocaust films came into existence due to the wide respect movies like "Schindler's List" received, but just because a movie is set during the Holocaust doesn't automatically mean it's good. Ditto for suburban angst films. That isn't to say all the nominees are bad. I've heard that "Slumdog Millionaire" is really a good film; one that isn't in the dark, depressing mode of the majority of the other nominated films. Bottom line, I miss the days when movies like "The Godfather" and "Rocky" won the Academy Award. I would give anything for another "Silence of the Lambs" to be nominated. If the Academy could recognize "Titanic" then how can "The Dark Knight" be overlooked. Where did all the pretentiousness come from? I don't know. I just don't know. As much as I love Hugh Jackman, I may not watch. Well, maybe I'll watch long enough to see if Ledger gets a posthumous award. After that... I think I'll watch a movie on DVD. I hear "The Dark Knight" is good.


daydream said...

To be honest "The Pianist" was actually pretty good. I liked it very much and I loved Schindler's List too, but as I see it Hollywood has sold its soul for the green bills. Cliche, but truth nonetheless. Movies that aired on Christmas such as "The Reader" got nominated with no reaction from the audience. I learned there was sucha movie, because the Golden Globes nominated it and it was boring.

Smirking Revenge said...

Its been a long while since I have agreed with the choices of film that is considered Oscar worthy. While I have watched Slumdog Millionaire (it is brilliant by the way and well worth the $9 if you see it in the theatre) its kind of shoe in so there is no real suspense there. It is a shame that the films people love dont get the credit they warrant. And a shame that it does tend to be heavy hitted dramas that get nominated when there are tons of films that aren't geared to make you cry or despair. When I think Oscar I think of films, performances, music, etc that blow me away. I think wow, there is no way I could do that. They are performances where I forget that it may be my favorite actor on screen because they completely become the part or music that I hear and am instantly transported into the film (really only three songs from all the scores of films released last year. Methinks not). *shrug*

I am going to watch. Why? Because I am having a shindig. Maybe we will MST3K it. Maybe we'll play Bingo where squares include (a red dress, when someone thanks god, when someone cries, etc). Maybe we'll ignore it and just eat, drink, and talk. Maybe we'll ogle Hugh Jackman because, well, he is pretty.

The awards aren't what they used to be. Am I the only one who thought the interpretive dance numbers to all the nominated songs was killer? Yep, probably. Maybe I am just a sucker for punishment.

SciFiGuy said...

Like many my interest in the Oscars has dwindled with the increasing lack of relevance of the pictures nominated to what the public actually goes and sees. There always seems to be a predominance of pictures slipped in in the last few weeks of the year. What happened to the pictures from the rest of the year? How can they nominate Robert Downey for Tropic Thunder but ignore him in Iron Man? Me I'll check the scores in the paper in the morning and save myself 3 and half hours of boredom.

Just_Me said...

I've never seen a reason to watch the award shows. I never saw any of the movies (no, not even Dark Knight, sadly). I don't care much for the actors, they fall right beneath trained chimps and clowns on my list of entertaining things to watch.

So what would be the point in watching?

Maybe if Lost Fleet were turned into a movie and were nominated for Best Picture, I might watch just to root for that.

SQT said...


I haven't seen "The Piano" so I don't mean to disrespect the movie. I just think Holocaust has become the 'go-to' topic for Oscar vehicle films.

Smirking Revenge

I gotta say, a drinking game combined with the Oscars sounds like fun. I bet if I chose to drink every time someone made a glowing comment about Obama or threw out a Bush insult I'd be hammered before they were half over.

Sci-fi Guy

That's how I feel. It's as if the audience is irrelevant anymore and frankly, since I pay their paycheck, I'd like to feel like they give a damn.

Just Me

Yeah. Paid chimps most of them. Hugh Jackman is excluded from that description of course. ;)

Anna said...

Actually as hosts go Hugh Jackman did a damn good job. I can't remember who hosted last year, that how forgettable it was.

I have to agree and it never fails.. they always screw over the SciFi Fantasy genre. Idiots!!

SolShine7 said...

He was enough for me. I liked how the show's format was this year. I actually watched it from beginning to end.