Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscars 2013: Musings and predictions

[This article was originally published on February 1, but I've moved it up to reflect its completion and updated links.]

I really relate to film lovers who reject the pomp and circumstance of the Oscars. To describe the two-month-long awards process as nauseating is an understatement, not just because of the self-importance exuding from many involved, but also because it reduces artistic achievement to the equivalent of a grade school science fair. Inevitably, the movie with the most outward flair, or, as the saying goes, the most of any given category will be crowned victor (i.e. the volcano with the first-prize ribbon). And yet, despite the deep issue I take with the notion of breaking down and awarding films by category, each year I get caught up in the spectacle and follow the contest like I would a Presidential election. While in some respects the Academy Awards represent a political horserace and everything that celebrating cinema shouldn’t be about, I’ve since learned to be at peace with my relationship to Oscar. After all, the commercial aspect is a great part of what makes movies unique, even if it exudes an unseemly aura that often clashes with the aesthetic and narrative depths that movies are capable of producing. And though the Oscars may not have the cultural relevance to which the Academy voters and members aspire, they do hold some relevance. As long as one is able to recognize the perfunctory absurdity of the pageantry, it is quite possible sit back and enjoy the gaudy display of what A.O. Scott once called the American film industry’s impression of itself.
            Given my Oscar appetite, this year I’ve decided to make better use of the energy spent anticipating and watching the show. Here on this site, I've posted short reviews for each film nominated for Best Picture in a series of commentaries in which I also surmised each film’s chances at the top prize. (Here is my write-up on the "Long shots," and here is "The Middleweights," and finally "The Contenders."I am also pleased to have taken part in a bigger Oscar project over at Slant Magazine, where I joined several Slant writers for the site’s annual Oscar Prediction series, running now until Oscar weekend. Following extensive discussion about each category, Ed Gonzalez, Eric Henderson, R. Kurt Osenlund, and myself penned reflections in our assigned categories, with a new commentary posted daily at Slant’s blog The House Next Door. I handled six categories, all of which are linked below. 

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