The obligatory Oscar column

February 27th, 2008

Confession: I’m not sure if I care less about the Oscars or the Superbowl.

I’m not a sports guy by any stretch of the imagination, but I love movies. And, this year’s host, Jon Stewart, is one of my favorite comedians.

But, the idea of more than three hours on a Sunday watching network television makes me cringe. 

I don’t want to deal with commercials and never-ending self-congratulations and teases for three and a half hours just to see if… well… nothing. I just don’t care if “No Country for Old Men” beats “There Will Be Blood.”

Actually, let me rephrase that: I don’t care enough to watch.

I’m interested enough to read the results on aintitcoolnews.com tomorrow and maybe catch a clip of Stewart on youtube.com. But that’s it. I know what movies I loved in 2007, and none of them were nominated for best picture.

Does that mean I have terrible taste? Depending on whom you ask in the newsroom, maybe, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I love comedies and adventure movies. The academy doesn’t share my love. In the past 10 years, only one comedy and one adventure movie took home the top honor: “Shakespeare in Love” in 1998 and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” in 2003.

There’s also the argument that the Oscar voters are out of step with the American public. Of all the best picture nominees this year, only Juno is a box office hit (surprise, surprise… it’s the only comedy nominated). Also, thanks in part to Harvey Weinstein, the Oscars have become more and more of a marketing campaign rather than an indicator of what’s actually best.

(To say nothing of the inherently silly idea of giving awards to art).

I don’t think people will remember “Crash” 20 years from now, but they’ll certainly know also-ran “Brokeback Mountain.”

But, I’ll continue to read (and complain about) nominees and winners for years to come. I think it has to do with ego. There’s something nice about critical recognition, as if to justify something we love—and a good feeling that comes along with complaining when the Oscars “get it wrong.”

I first became aware of the Oscars in 1994, when “Forrest Gump” swept the show. I was 13, and thought “Forrest Gump” might just be the best movie I’d ever seen (in hindsight, “The Shawshank Redemption” was a better movie.” But, at 13, I found “Forrest Gump’s” historical gags to be unbelievably clever.

So, I started thinking about next year’s Academy Awards, wondering which of my favorite movies would win. A month or so after Tom Hanks and company walked away with all those trophies, I thought I knew the answer. I had seen a movie that was smart, funny, exciting and well written. It was going to win the Oscar, nothing could convince me otherwise.

It was called “A Goofy Movie.”

Flash forward a few months. For the first time in my short career of following the Oscars, the movie I loved didn’t win (it wasn’t even nominated—the animated category wasn’t even added until 2001). “Braveheart” took the statue that year.

I saw “Braveheart” at a friend’s birthday party. I don’t know what was more uncomfortable—sitting on a living folding chair for three hours, or watching it with my friend’s mom and little sister in the room—even more awkward during the nude scene (“Mommy, is she cold?”)

My opinion of “Braveheart” remains the same today: tediously boring panoramas of Scotland, bagpipe music punctuated by the occasional battle.

My opinion of “A Goofy Movie” is also pretty much the same as when I was 13.

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072

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