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Online kimmy

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Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« on: February 12, 2018, 07:25:54 pm »
I read this think-piece today:
https://www.theringer.com/2018/2/7/16984532/oscars-best-picture-2009-10-nominees-dark-knight-superheroes-star-wars-last-jedi-wonder-woman-logan

It looks back on the Academy's notion of expanding the number of Best Picture nominees up to 10. This was a response to the trend that saw the best picture nominations increasingly going to just arthouse movies that few viewers actually saw, combined with the observation that the Oscar broadcast does good ratings when popular movies are up for awards and poor ratings when popular movies are not up for awards. The idea was to make it a "bigger tent" to appeal to a wider audience. "We will cast a wider net" was the logic.   With more nominees, they could have have room for art movies and indie movies and well-made blockbusters and other films that just wouldn't get the recognition if it was restricted to just 5 nominees. 

Instead of a "big tent", the result has been that even more arthouse movies get Best Picture nominations.  Instead of a "wider net", it's a net that's nabbing the same small fishes, but more of them.  Of this year's 9 nominees, only two of them-- Get Out! and Dunkirk-- did any significant box office at all.  Some of the nominees literally didn't do any box office in 2017, as they received a bare minimum number of screenings to qualify for eligibility for awards, then shelved for a 2018 release to cash in on awards season. The result is that the combined total box office for this year's 9 nominees is about $600 million dollars, of which well over half was from Get Out! and Dunkirk alone (roughly $180M apiece).  So we have two commercial successes plus seven movies that hardly anybody saw.

By comparison, Star Wars: The Last Jedi alone made roughly as much as all 9 best picture nominees combined. Of this year's top 3 films, Star Wars ($600+ M) received couple of technical nominations and a music nomination for John Williams's orchestral score. Beauty and the Beast ($500+ M) received a costume nomination and a set production nomination. Wonder Woman ($400+ M) received no nominations at all. Of the remaining top 10 box office films, the only other nomination is a special effects nomination for Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 2. The 10 films with somewhere in the range of $3.7 billion of ticket sales between them received a total of 6 nominations, all in minor categories.

Logan, the year's 11th biggest box office success, is the top grossing movie to receive a major nomination, for Best Screenplay.  After that, Dunkirk and Get Out!  (#14 and #15 respectively) are the top-grossing movies to get major nominations (both are up for Best Picture, Best Director, and a Best Actor nomination for Get Out! as well.)

Great for Get Out! of course, which was quite a surprise as both a commercial and critical success.  But if the premise is that the Oscars get good TV ratings when popular movies are in the mix, and do poorly when popular movies aren't in the mix, one has to suspect that this years Oscars are going to do poorly in terms of TV audiences, as the author of the above article says:
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A year ago, I coyly suggested the Academy nominate Deadpool to disrupt the inevitable La La Land–vs.-Moonlight showdown. My intuition that millions of people wouldn’t watch the show was right. Last year was a surprisingly wondrous one at the movies, but I suspect that the audience for the Oscars will be low again — perhaps in the range of 35 million. And in what has been declared the most unpredictable race in more than a decade.

This year has been hailed as the year of women in Hollywood. Eleven women are up for major awards this year. Five for Best Actress.  Five for Best Supporting Actress. And Greta Gerwig, as Best Director for Ladybird, an arthouse movie that nobody has actually seen. Beyond Greta Gerwig, it's the same as every other year. 10 actresses, plus some costume designers and makeup artists. Patty Jenkins and her female-celebrating, 3rd biggest movie of the year blockbuster are not even at the show.

There could be other reasons people decide to tune in this year, of course.  People might tune in to see who fires the biggest Harvey Weinstein blast. People might tune in to see if Rose McGowan gets anywhere near a microphone and goes scorched earth. Or if she shows up with a flamethrower and literally burns the Academy down.   It has been an interesting year for Hollywood in terms of off-screen, behind the scenes stuff being made public, so who knows if maybe some of that will draw viewers to this year's broadcast.


 -k

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Offline cybercoma

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 08:05:30 pm »
This is the age old debate about whether popularity/profitability or aesthetic/importance should determine the winners. Profitability is not an indicator of artistic quality and often, it not necessarily so, these things are at odds. Reproducibility, predictability, and profitability are the driving forces of today’s box office “successes.” This is a function of modernity’s bend for rationalization of all things. But at what cost? I would argue that it has come at the cost of creativity, uniqueness, and generally artistic experience. That’s an observation, rather than implying it must be this way. We’re flooded with remakes and adaptations, with sequels, prequels, and reboots. These come with hype baked in and therefore the promise of profitability. Audiences want them because they’re predictable. You know what to expect from a superhero film. Studios love them because they’re reproducible. It’s the same stories told over and over with different settings and characters. I’m glad the Academy still stands in opposition to these forces.
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Online kimmy

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 08:45:33 pm »
The Academy didn't always stand in opposition to those forces.  The author of the previous article points out that until recently, most Best Picture winners were actually commercially successful.  As well, he points out the Academy's history of selecting some pretty crappy films that were dressed up as prestige productions.
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The knock-on effect was more strategic and fundamental to the nominees we see today. “If the populist film is really good technically, artistically and performance-wise, then it could get in,” a high-ranking public relations executive and Academy member told the L.A. Times’ Nicole Sperling and Amy Kaufman. “It can’t just be commercial. I don’t think you’re going to see Bridesmaids. But the [Dark Knight] example that’s always used — this does allow for a film like that.”

That Academy members are allergic to Bridesmaids is a symptom of the body’s lingering sickness, just as prizing a superhero movie over a female-led comedy is illogical genre prejudice with a dash of gender bias. The cast of Bridesmaids on the red carpet at the Oscars would have been a boon — for TV audiences, for fans of the movie, and for the sake of culture at large. (Note: The little-seen and quite bad Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for Best Picture in the same year Bridesmaids was not.)

Soooo how bad is "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"?  Pretty bad.  Possibly the worst Best Picture nominee ever.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/feb/23/oscars-extremely-loud-incredibly-close
"...a middle-brow cousin to Human Centipede 2" is pretty vicious.  I don't know what that means, but it certainly does not sound positive.

But it got nominated. And the Academy PR guy isn't concerned about that, he's concerned about making sure that Bridesmaids didn't get nominated.

Ultimately... is the Academy Awards show to acknowledge excellence, or is it a marketing exercise?  For the pure of heart it would be the former in an ideal world, but looking at it right now we have to acknowledge that it is in large measure the latter as well.  That's the whole reason that many of these movies only got screened enough to meet eligibility requirements in 2017 and are now seeing wide release right now in time for awards season.  These awards are, in themselves, part of the marketing strategy for these films.

And if viewers decide that the Oscars are just not for people like them, that the awards are for an insular group of highbrow types that have no bearing on what they themselves like to watch, then the value of these awards as a marketing strategy (and as a cash-cow for the Academy) falls.

Personally the last time I was remotely interested in the Oscars is when Fury Road was up for major awards.  I imagine that this year some fans of Get Out! will feel the same.  But when only couple of commercially successful movies are in the mix, what star power is going to put butts in front of screens to watch all these arthouse movies get their awards?

 -k

Offline bcsapper

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 08:47:02 pm »
Not me...
Time for bed said Zebedee...

Offline SirJohn

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 09:20:57 pm »
I expect the Oscars will be all about progressive virtue signalling. Any white heterosexual who accidentally wins something will probably apologize at the podium and hand it off to whichver woman (no doubt dressed in black) or Black man is closest and then crawl away. I'll find something else to occupy my time.

And it isn't or wasn't always the case that the oscar winners were crappy big box pictures. Most of them were both quality movies and commercial successes.

There's an awful lot of damned good movies that sold a lot of tickets on this list BEFORE they went to ten nominees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Picture


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Offline MH

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 09:26:52 pm »
It's not like the best pictures get nominated or win, but this push to somehow be popular AND artsy is baffling.  It's like pro sports that fiddle with the rules to increase their viewership.  It makes something that's canned and fake even faker.

Offline cybercoma

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 10:14:07 pm »
I expect the Oscars will be all about progressive virtue signalling. Any white heterosexual who accidentally wins something will probably apologize at the podium and hand it off to whichver woman (no doubt dressed in black) or Black man is closest and then crawl away. I'll find something else to occupy my time.

And it isn't or wasn't always the case that the oscar winners were crappy big box pictures. Most of them were both quality movies and commercial successes.

There's an awful lot of damned good movies that sold a lot of tickets on this list BEFORE they went to ten nominees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Picture
Seek help. Even a thread about the Oscars gets you frothing st the mouth about SJWs.
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Offline ?Impact

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 10:25:48 pm »
I guess you will have to put me in the don't give a crap category. I went through the list for Best Picture... and I haven't seen any of them.

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Online kimmy

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 12:49:24 am »
I will see "Get Out!" at some point, and might see "Three Billboards" and  "I, Tonya" as well (not a Best Picture contender, but nominations for Margot Robbie and Alison Janney...)

 -k

Online kimmy

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 01:01:18 am »
It's not like the best pictures get nominated or win, but this push to somehow be popular AND artsy is baffling.  It's like pro sports that fiddle with the rules to increase their viewership.  It makes something that's canned and fake even faker.

If it's on TV at all, then being popular is a concern.  If the Academy Awards didn't care whether anybody watches, they could have an untelevised ceremony in a hotel ballroom like any number of other awards events do.

If they want the event to stay relevant to the larger culture, as either a marketing tool for movies or as a highly prized accolade for people in the industry, then some vague awareness of the audience's interest is necessary. They don't exist in a vacuum, as much as they seem to think otherwise.

 -k

Offline MH

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 05:51:29 am »
If it's on TV at all, then being popular is a concern.  If the Academy Awards didn't care whether anybody watches, they could have an untelevised ceremony in a hotel ballroom like any number of other awards events do.

I see that but fiddling with the core product to get more people to watch is a strategic failure.  NASCAR did that, killed the product and people stopped watching.  They should have fired the whole crew of group-thinkers and wound back all the changes.

Back a few decades, I think baseball started this trend by having fans vote for the all-stars.  So the broken has-been favourites could be considered 'stars' even though they were no longer stars.

For the Oscars: a one-night TV event to celebrate the movies that are regarded the 'best' by the artists who make them, roughly.  Because people don't always watch, their solution is to try to get different films named the best. 

It's their product, so they can do what they want but it feels like a strange kind of patronizing denial, like telling fat people they look thin.

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If they want the event to stay relevant to the larger culture, as either a marketing tool for movies or as a highly prized accolade for people in the industry, then some vague awareness of the audience's interest is necessary. They don't exist in a vacuum, as much as they seem to think otherwise.

The Academy Awards were invented for a purpose, and this is a different purpose.  Over time, everything gets pushed to a point where its top priorities are divided and it's then time to make a choice.

Offline MH

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 05:56:27 am »
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

"Dunkirk" was great, and "Lady Bird" was a fine little picture.  "The Shape of Water" - I had seen it before but it was well enough made.  I think the politics of the day might reward "Ladybird" over a better, though testosteroney "Dunkirk".

The sad thing is that Dunkirk also re-examined traditional masculinity in a time of war, and showed men of varying degrees of valour being tested by that kind of terror.  The lens was clearly of today's perspective of what masculinity is and is not, so it was, to me, as much an examination of gender roles as "Ladybird" was.

Offline Boges

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2018, 07:39:19 am »
I think Ladybird will win. It was a decent movie.

I'm more interested to see if the PC police have completely de-railed 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbings, Missouri. It cleaned up the Golden Globes and then people realized it shows a redemption arc for a racist!!! OMG in this Metoo World we can be forgiving people when they change their ways!!!

Sam Rockwell was great in this movie.  He is so evil at the start then you learn to appreciate him at the end. I'm annoyed that this storyline is the reason people don't like this movie.

Woody Harrelson also got a nomination in this category, he may even be more worthy. But then you have Willem Dafoe in the Florida Project (That movie is a completely different thread, what a cool movie!). That category is STACKED!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 07:41:17 am by Boges »

Offline cybercoma

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2018, 09:00:37 am »
Ultimately... is the Academy Awards show to acknowledge excellence, or is it a marketing exercise? 
 -k
Personally, I think it's now both and leaning more to the latter every year. I hated that they expanded the Best Picture nominees. DVDs and Blu-Rays advertise nominations to drive sales and I feel like production studios pressured the Academy into expanding, so that they could market their films that way.

I responded as I did in the last comment because you seemed to be decrying "art house" films. I think it's important that the Academy stand to recognize artistic excellence in the face of capitalistic film-making enterprise. It would be an incredible blow to culture for artistic endeavours to be subsumed by capitalist drives.

Will they do that? Less and less so as members of the investment film-making class become a greater proportion of the Academy judges. Unfortunately, the public won't stop it because artistic does not always mean popular, as we can see from the billions raked in by dross like Transformers.
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Online kimmy

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Re: Oscars 2018: anybody give a crap?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2018, 10:20:11 am »
Personally, I think it's now both and leaning more to the latter every year. I hated that they expanded the Best Picture nominees. DVDs and Blu-Rays advertise nominations to drive sales and I feel like production studios pressured the Academy into expanding, so that they could market their films that way.

I responded as I did in the last comment because you seemed to be decrying "art house" films. I think it's important that the Academy stand to recognize artistic excellence in the face of capitalistic film-making enterprise. It would be an incredible blow to culture for artistic endeavours to be subsumed by capitalist drives.

I don't have anything against arthouse films, I just question the increasing focus on these movies at the Oscars. It didn't used to be that way.  It used to be that Best Picture nominees were well-made major releases that audiences actually watched. We already have the Palme d'Or and the Sundance Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival as a celebration of these smaller independent movies.


Will they do that? Less and less so as members of the investment film-making class become a greater proportion of the Academy judges.

I believe a move in the opposite direction is actually underway. They've implemented changes to turf a lot of people who are no longer active in filmmaking from the voters list, while adding new and active filmakers and performers to the list.

Unfortunately, the public won't stop it because artistic does not always mean popular, as we can see from the billions raked in by dross like Transformers.

I'd certainly never advocate for Transformers getting an academy award.  But the academy seems to have serious blinders in terms of where they're willing to see quality. The previous example-- Bridesmaids would never get a nomination, but something like Extremely Loud And Very Close gets a nomination even though it's a flaming piece of garbage, and mostly because it checks a suitable number of Oscar-Bait boxes that academy voters look for.  A comedy won't get recognized no matter how well made, but if something is pretentious enough and "serious" enough then it'll get consideration regardless of whether it's actually any good.

 -k