Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscar Ratings

Once again the organizers of Oscar night are expecting low ratings and wondering why. This is an easy question to answer. Currently popular movies are disqualified from even being nominated because they considered are too commercial. Look at this year's crop. Most of the major nominees were only in limited release during 2008 in order to qualify for a nomination. They went into wide release the same weekend that the nominations were announced in order to take advantage of the publicity. Of all the nominees in major categories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the only one that actually did well at the box office.

What happened to Dark Knight? During most of the Summer it was considered a lock on best picture. It was also the most popular movie in years. But it suddenly lost Oscar momentum and only got a nomination for supporting actor. This is an example of what is wrong with the whole nominating process.

Rumor is that the people doing the nominations considered Dark Knight too dark and too Bush-era. There is no place for a movie about a sociopath in the Age of Obama. So, in order to get a nomination a movie has to pass a political test as well as an artistic one. You can see the same effect in reverse in Milk. Both the subject matter and the star are on the right (left) side of politics.

In the end, people tune in to the Oscars to root for their favorite movie to win. The show itself is long and boring in a self-indulgent way. If you haven't seen any of the top movies then there are better things you can do with your time.

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