Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

“Nobody knows anything” – William Goldman

Posted by CinemaPsycho on November 19, 2004

OK, we’ve been having some technical difficulties lately, but now we’re back on track and everything’s running smoothly. There’s a new review up and there should be more coming shortly. If anyone’s visited the site in the past couple of days and had some problems with the links, I’m sorry, but these glitches are unavoidable from time to time. Anyone who’s ever worked on a website knows what a pain in the ass it can be, especially when you’re first starting out. Still, I hope you guys keep coming back.

While we’re on that subject, this seems as good a time as any to give special thanks to Paul Hill, who’s been doing all of the technical work on the site (‘cause I don’t know what the hell I’m doing) and has been working tirelessly to keep this site up and running. So if you enjoy reading these reviews and rantings, give all the credit to him for making it possible. Eventually we want to get to the point where I can run it on my own, but we’re both learning the process and trying to get through all the early problems now, so that at some point even a dumbass like me can do it. So again, thanks Paul!

All right, on with the show…

If you browse the movie sites regularly, as I do, you’ve no doubt noticed that several well-known film critics, journalists and pundits have already begun giving their Oscar predictions. What’s going to be nominated, what’s going to win, who’s going to get some after the ceremony. However, don’t expect me to weigh in on my thoughts and opinions, at least not until the actual nominations are announced. Why?

Because it’s too damn early to care.

Despite what certain people in the industry want you to believe, nobody knows ANYTHING yet. All of the “insiders” are desperate for us lowly filmgoers to think that they know exactly what’s going to happen come the end of February. That’s how they justify their paychecks, after all. Can’t blame ‘em for that.

Every year, they write tons of articles in newspapers, magazines and on the Net, months in advance, giving their predictions. Then the Oscars finally come, the winners are announced, and all of those articles are forgotten. They usually get a couple of the categories right, and the rest are “big surprises”. OK, whatever.

Here’s the problem: most of these industry insiders don’t seem to understand the nature of the Academy. If a movie sweeps the major awards, it’s because “the Academy chose to reward mainstream Hollywood or indie Hollywood”. If a well-regarded film gets no awards or even nominations, it’s because “the Academy chose to ignore good work”.

This kind of thinking is just absurd. The Academy doesn’t “choose” to agree on anything. These writers act like the Academy is this secret organization that gets together in a soundproof underground chamber and says things like, “let’s honor Lord of the Rings this year”. It just doesn’t work like that. That’s the Golden Globes.

Seriously though, the Oscars are simply a popularity contest. And like any popularity contest, whoever gets the most votes wins. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. That’s simply democracy in action. Whatever your opinion of the awards’ validity, that’s just how it works. Just like the elections for Class President in junior high, it’s just that simple.

Take for example, last year’s Best Actor race. Before the ceremony, most of the pundits believed that Bill Murray was a lock. All of the so-called “signs” pointed to that happening. But as we all know, Sean Penn won the award. How did that happen?

Well, common sense will tell you that Penn got the most votes. Let’s say that the race came down completely to Murray and Penn. Murray had a strongly vocal contingent who supported him. It’s possible that Penn just squeaked by with, I don’t know, 51 percent of the votes. In that scenario, it’s also possible that Murray got the rest of the votes with a strong 49 percent. (Is this sounding familiar?)

But it probably didn’t happen that way. There were 5 nominees, so basically all anyone has to do is get more than 20% of the votes to possibly win. For example, Penn could’ve received 32% of the votes, and Murray 28%. The other 40% of the votes would be divided up among the other 3 nominees. Let’s say Johnny Depp got 25%, for the sake of argument, that leaves maybe 7.5% each for the other two (who I can’t remember offhand, no disrespect intended).

Under that potential scenario, that means that the winner was someone who only 32% of “The Academy” thought gave the best performance. That gives Penn the majority of the vote, absolutely. But that also means that 68% of “The Academy” voted for someone else in that category.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? It’s not that hard to speculate that “The Academy” doesn’t necessarily agree on anything. The idea that 100% of this organization supports any particular film, actor or creative artist is completely ludicrous. The winner is always whoever gets the biggest slice of the pie. That doesn’t mean they got the whole pie.

Not to mention the fact that 100% of the Academy doesn’t vote in every single category. We all know how it works – actors vote for the acting categories, directors vote for Best Director, screenwriters vote for the screenplay categories, etc. Best Picture is the only category that EVERYBODY gets to vote on, and even then, the same rules above still apply. Not that we’ll ever know, but I sincerely doubt there has ever been a unanimous 100% vote winner in the history of the Academy Awards. That many people could not possibly unanimously agree on anything.

And I won’t even go into how the studios’ ad campaigns affect the votes. I’ll be writing this all night.
But based on the way these “veteran insiders” think and write about the Oscar race, you’d think the Academy was like a jury that had to agree on a unanimous verdict, and went over the “evidence” with a fine-toothed comb until they came up with it. It just isn’t so.

So when the nominations come out, I’ll be happy to give my opinions, both on who I think will win, and who I think should win. It’s something I do every year, purely for my own enjoyment. I’ll get some of the categories right, and I’ll get some of them wrong. But nobody has a crystal ball, no matter how many screenings they get into (in my case, none) or how many “unnamed industry insiders” they know (ditto). Let’s all get over ourselves, shall we?

Until that time comes, here are my so-called “early predictions”. Feel free to take them with a grain of salt. Miramax will get a Best Picture nomination for a film that doesn’t really deserve it, while their best films of the year will get nothing;

The awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress will go to the most physically attractive nominees;

The winner for Best Actress will embarrass herself with a tearfully emotional speech, and will further embarrass herself with her future career choices;

No one on the planet will get to see the nominees for Best Documentary Short Film and Best Animated Short Film, except for maybe 15 people at a film festival in Des Moines, Iowa;

The Best Song winner will be the biggest piece of crap you’ve ever heard (I’m betting on “Car Wash” from Shark Tale);

Someone, either a winner or a presenter, will say something inappropriate about the 2004 Presidential election;

The show will run at least 45 minutes long, probably longer. Deal with it.

On a different topic, can I just say that Paramount’s position that Alfie bombed because of “the conservative wave in America” is pure and total bullshit? Come on guys, you opened it the same weekend as a huge Pixar movie. You know that’s not going to work, even as “counterprogramming”. Think about it – every kid in America wants to see the new Pixar movie. Lots of women who go to movies are also parents. Parents have to take their kids to the new Pixar movie. Most parents can’t afford to go to movies twice in the same weekend. Face it, you screwed up and picked the wrong release date. You guys have been doing that a lot lately. Sky Captain would’ve done much better in the summer, and Manchurian Candidate could’ve been HUGE in the fall. Stepford Wives – well, I don’t think anything would’ve saved that one. Did you ever consider that you might want to release your romantic comedy, I don’t know, closer to Valentine’s Day? Or that Jude Law is in too many damn movies this fall, and you might want to space this one out a little bit, to separate it from the pack? Don’t pass it off on politics – conservative-minded people were never going to come out and see a movie about a so-called “womanizer” at any time of year. But I’m sure there are several million single women out there who DID go see Alfie, and made up its $6.5 million opening weekend. (That may seem low to you, but millions of dollars in ticket sales don’t come out of nowhere.) You just picked the wrong time to get anyone else interested. Considering that your original release date was Oct. 22 (just what people want to see around Halloween, right?) you probably would’ve been screwed either way. But don’t blame politics – you might as well blame the economy, the Iraq war or global warming. Blame your own bad timing. Your statements just prove that you had no clue who your movie was supposed to appeal to in the first place. I’m no Hollywood insider, but even I can tell that someone over there isn’t doing their job.

That’s it for now. Talk to you later!

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