Every year a few hundred thousand or maybe more Indians wake up early to watch TV on one particular day; there is also a very good possibility that a few hundred of them might live tweet their actions in the coming hours, and I was among those who longed to that till some days back. It is not that I have attained enlightenment over the fact that the Academy Awards do not serve any purpose, but it is just that a sudden torrent of resentment and disinterest about the whole thing that flowed into me.
I watch movies; I read about them, feel happy about upcoming ones and worry over how things went bad and about issues I have no control over. They are not an entertainment or a welcome distraction as it is put these days, to me. Movies are part of my life, more than I would like to admit. But then shouldn’t I be up Monday morning with the rest of all?
The Academy Awards is a big scale reproduction of a school painting contest. A school painting contest is held on important occasions such as Children’s day/Independence Day/Republic Day where the kids are asked to draw on topics such as My Pet/My house/Chacha Nehru/Chacha Chaudhary etc and is judged by an art teacher or any designated person. In a way a school painting competition is slightly fair when compared to the Academy Awards simply because it (The Academy) gives out the naked man with the sword and reel to those which it feels fit and there is not even a topic.
So when there is no particular parameter on which these different movies are judged, I am unable to think how these movies are chosen. Continuing with my previous example let us say that a child has a dog for his pet while a girl sketches a pigeon what would you choose and how would decide the quality of the drawing.
Ok, I know that relating the Academy Awards to a School competition might be belittling it; but how will you rate between George Clooney in the Descendants and Brad Pitt in Money Ball. Both are essentially two different films and individual performances will heavily depend on the subject matter and the capacity of the actor. The latter factor has guaranteed their nomination, but by choosing Clooney over Pitt (or vice versa) wouldn’t we be implying that a film on a dysfunctional family is a better film than a story about an underdog baseball team?
Or maybe there is a group of cinematic geniuses who can conjure up a complex mathematical formula to rate the frown of Clooney and compare that with the frown/sigh (or whatever) of Pitt.
So in the end, I believe it is a question of personal tastes and choices of the five thousand odd voters of the academy and this stand of my mine holds good for any awards or film festival. In the end it is a matter of choice and everybody want their favorite to win.
That brings me to a more important question. Should movies be rated, should they allotted marks out of hundred in a chalk like font like the Ananda Vikatan does every week? Is it necessary to rate a movie in order to differentiate it from the bad ones? Shouldn’t the choice options be ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’ rather than adjectives like ‘on par with the masters’ and ‘modern classic. Even these are in a way personal opinions projected on a scale equal to the 70mm screen on which these movies are shown. They maybe cumulative, but they are not ultimate.
There is no doubt; the awards are a welcome boost to all those involved in the film and the prospects of the film doing even better can only increase after an Academy Award. But are we really watching the Best Film of the year or the Best Film according to them?
As I sit here, going through endless predictions and promotions I can only feel that the Oscars are more about the celebration of television programming than the celebration of films.
<yes yes, I’ll read about the results later online>