By John H. Foote
Are we part of the trouble with the Oscars? We critics, writers, and bloggers start talking Oscar at TIFF, which is kind of the unofficial beginning of Oscar season, and do not let up until the night of the awards. And then wake up the next morning, bitch about who did win and who did not, take a couple of days and begin predicting next year. Since 2000 it has been like this, and I confess to being an active part of it.
Think about it.
TIFF, Venice and Telluride are used as launching pads for the major releases that the studios hope to be vying for the top awards and we write, we predict for the next seven months (more than half a year folks!), covering every aspect as the films jockey for position. Then in December the awards from other avenues start to be handed out, setting the tone.
The Screen Actors Guild, the faltering Golden Globes, and then the major critics awards from film critics in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and the National Society of Film Critics, before the major guilds start their awards. The Directors Guild, the Producers Guild, the Society of Cinematographers, Film Editors, the Writers Guild, and it goes go. The the big day, at dawn in Hollywood, the Academy Award nominations are announced and the earth moves and the countdown begins to the big night.
During the seven months of those pre-awards critics, film writers and bloggers write about the awards. Who will win? Who might? Who should? Who was snubbed?
And on it goes.
I am as guilty as anyone having written hundreds of articles about the Academy Awards since 2000 at various sites including incontention.com, awardscircuit.com, covering TIFF for thewrap.com one year, and finally for our own site Footeandfriendsonfilm.com. Finally this week it hit me as I was listing my own final predictions, I am done with the Oscars this year. I am not sure if I can do it, but I might not write another Oscar piece until the nominations are announced next year.
Writing about the Oscars can be maddening. Remembering the rage I felt the night Chariots of Fire (1981) bested the magnificent Reds (1981) for Best Picture in a year that saw both Blow Out and Body Heat snubbed. The following year Gandhi (1982) bested both E.T. – The Extraterrestrial and Tootsie for Best Picture and Best Director. Wanting to gouge my eyes out the year Martin Scorsese and GoodFellas (1990) lost to Kevin Costner’s very fine western Dances with Wolves (Scorsese’s was a film for the ages), and so it continued through the nineties. Forrest Gump (1994) winning Best Picture over Pulp Fiction? Al Pacino winning Best Actor for Scent of a Woman (1992)? Roberto Benigni winning Best Actor for Life is Beautiful (1998)? Braveheart (1995) winning Best picture over Apollo 13? Shakespeare in Love (1998) taking Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan (1998)? Julia Roberts winning Best Actress for her lovely performance in Erin Brockovich (2000) over the astounding work of Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream (2000)? Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (2001) wins Best Picture? In any year this was an abomination. Paul Giamatti snubbed for Best Actor in Sideways (2004), which then proceeded to lose Best Picture? Martin Scorsese finally wins Best Director for The Departed (2006) after losing or being snubbed for Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004) before finally winning for his crime epic. What took so long? Mel Gibson wins Best Director for Braveheart (1995) but is not even so much as nominated for his breathtaking The Passion of the Christ (2004)? And on it goes right up to present day. No Lady Gaga for House of Gucci? Come on …
So yes, I have had my fill of the Oscars for a while. No more after Monday.
Bold words, but I am going to try. I will cover the awards Sunday night but then will take a nice long break from the awards and focus on writing about the glories of cinema.
I thank the site owners who gave me a chance on their sites, every single one of them, and I think the partners on my site for their hard work and belief in what we do, even through the tough times. The best of the Oscar writers remain Anne Thompson, Scott Feinberg and the lovely Sasha Stone, I read them every day or whenever they write.
Going forward I have drawn up a list of 250 potential articles I can write until the nominations are announced.
And to answer my question, are we part of the problem? We certainly are, but the fact that every awards show has become a pubic event and becoming a big deal has not helped. Why? They all want to be a bigger deal and with the downfall of the corruption ridden Golden Globes, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, one of them is looking to take the place of that long time awards player.
I will continue to write abut film until the day I die, and fulfill my contractual obligations to write the books I have promised, but the Oscars? No, I am going to take a long break after Sunday. Sorry but I am not adding to the troubles.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.