“The Dark Knight” wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture in 2009, despite its gross revenue of over $1 billion and widespread critical accolades. Were the nominations wrong?
“Avatar,” a record-setting sci-fi film that grossed $2.75 billion, lost out to “Hurt Locker,” a lesser-known story of a soldier’s recovery. A movie that made more money than twice the GDP of Liberia wasn’t the best picture of the year?
While many moviegoers cry foul, it’s important to look at what the Academy awards are and, perhaps even more importantly, what they are not.
Now in its 83rd year, the Oscars have a strong tradition of recognizing quality storytelling, but it is true that they have had their share of snubs in the past.
“2001: A Space Odyssey,” though widely thought to be one of the best sci-fi, if not overall, films of all time, HAL was unable to get a win for Best Picture. “Vertigo,” acclaimed as suspense legend Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, suffered the same fate.
Perhaps the most notable Oscar snub is Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” The only win for this timeless classic was for Best Screenplay. Not only did Welles help revolutionize the way movies were made with his cinematography, innovate storytelling and sound mixing, the 25-year-old film genius should have also taken the statue for Best Lead Actor.
Director Christopher Nolan, known for blockbusters such as “Momento,” “Dark Knight” and the 2010 blockbuster “Inception,” is once again noticeably absent from the nominations.
Regardless, in 83 years of nominating, overlooking a few gems is inevitable. Just last year, the Best Picture category was moved from five to 10 nominations to be able to include those perhaps less deserving blockbusters, along with the unknown thematic beauties that are out there.
No matter how much viewers may whine, the Academy Awards are not a popularity contest. The reason Avatar didn’t win Best Picture was because it arguably was not the Best Picture. If you want a popularity based award system, I warn you to stop and look at the People’s Choice Awards, who recently gave “Twilight” five awards. Popular or not, stone-faced Kristen Stewart’s “performance” deserves best scenery over best actress.
While it’s true that box office giants like “Inception” and “Dark Knight” deserve recognition, the idea that your favorite movie is therefore the best movie needs to be dramatically reconsidered. My borderline-obsessive love for “Legends of the Guardians” does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean it should have been nominated for Best Animated Picture over “Toy Story 3.”
It’s a matter of defining what we think of as a movie we like and what is a good movie. Yes, the Oscars nominations and award winners are sometimes hit or miss. And yes, what I’ve enjoyed and what is truly great may be one in the same on occasion. However, when you’ve only seen maybe three of the 10 nominated for Best Picture, how can you really decide what should be there?
This is not to say I agree with many of the nominations, but it’s important to note that even as someone who sees roughly two new movies a week, I haven’t seen four of the 10 movies nominated for best picture.
The purpose of the Awards, though results have been hit or miss, is to recognize quality film-making. Take the time to watch past winners and see the difference in normal movies we all watch for strictly their entertainment value. It may be the difference between adding a packet of hot chocolate to coffee and a pure, full flavor cup of dark roast.
It may be tough, but the more you get a taste, the more appreciation you will have. And perhaps you’ll see why, though fun, “Dark Knight” was best suited for the sidelines.