The Awkward Awards

As the awards season comes to a close for yet another year, with Hollywood’s finest either celebrating or wallowing in their own self pity, one can’t help feeling that the Oscars were once again a massive disappointment. The ceremony, in all its glitz and glamour, comes across as little more than an exultation for beautiful people to achieve praise largely dependent on predetermined considerations.

Presented by the exceedingly dull duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the audience were made to sit uncomfortably through three hours of awkward jokes and unsettling skits. An arguably odd choice given the relative youth of the pair, perhaps it was meant to balance the expected number of older viewers attracted by the nominations of Colin Firth and The King’s Speech. However, regardless of why they were chosen, it doesn’t excuse why they came across as half attempting to impress their acting peers and half trying to suppress their excitement at being given the opportunity to host the awards, failing at both. Somewhat comically, this has since led to a Facebook group petitioning for the return of Billy Crystal to host the 2012 awards; not the funniest of men but at least he can still hold an audience, demonstrated by the few minutes he was on stage.

The Oscars have received considerable criticism regarding the millions of dollars publicists spend to promote their films during the awards season, in an attempt to create sufficient hype surrounding a film. This in turn seems to suggest that only a handful of films are really within a shot of receiving an award, thus, the results appear more a formality rewarding the most monied film than a genuine recognition of quality in acting and filmmaking.

There seems to be a necessary procedure followed in order to win an award: for example, in the best picture category it seems necessary to have the film on the lengthy side and preferably slightly dull so that the judges think they are watching something of inherent social importance. Rarely is it that a fantasy or horror film takes the title as these are not deemed ‘serious’ films. It is also evident that the film cannot be foreign; there is a category for best foreign film at the awards which seems to be the only place for world cinema at the Oscars. Perhaps they should count themselves lucky they at least have that.

The 2011 Oscars are a perfect example of the tedious predictability of recent years. In retrospect, it seems incredibly obvious that The King’s Speech should have won its numerous awards as the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild awards seemed to point in that direction. This in turn has meant that those faithful British few who stayed up all night, ultimately wasted their time by watching something they already knew would happen, especially when the acceptance speeches were so soporific. The only highlight was Melissa Leo dropping the F-bomb for the first time in Oscar history and then not even realising she had done it.

It is clear that the Oscars are ostentatious, the close to this year’s ceremony emphasising this with hordes of school kids clothed in a cornucopia of colours singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as the winners hoisted their awards in the air. There is definitely a certain prestige that is reserved only for the Oscars, but it is getting to the point where they are losing their validity or at least their allure as viewing figures continue to fall. Perhaps if there was a genuine sense of surprise or competition their light would be rekindled. Who knows, maybe if Jeff Bridges was put forward for Tron: Legacy rather than True Grit, the outcome would have been somewhat different; at least it would have been entertaining.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Mar 8th 2011.

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