Every awards season I feel like a fake fan. Scanning through the list of nominated films, I’m always struck by the same question: Did I even watch a movie last year?
I did, in fact, watch at least one movie last year, even if all I ever talked about was “Paddington 2.” I went to the movie theater more times than my wallet could handle, actually, and felt like I’d seen a good range of films — the good, the bad and the “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”
Award shows — and the three hours of E! red carpet coverage that precede them — have always been incredibly important events for me, despite my never having seen all the Best Picture nominees for any given year. I’m perennially stressed about not getting award show jokes ever since my first introduction to “Carol” was the Kate McKinnon skit at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Much of my January to March is spent getting caught up on all the films from the past year that everyone I follow on Twitter has already raved or ranted about for months. Because of the late and limited releases of the most buzzed-about movies, I viewed the majority of films honored as the best films of 2017 in 2018. Films like “Call Me By Your Name” and “Phantom Thread” weren’t even released in San Antonio-area theaters until 2018, and would be my favorite releases of 2018 if it wasn’t for the award season conditioning. This year, I’m still trying to wade my way through the major nominees for 2018. So far I’ve seen four of the eight Best Picture nominees.
To alleviate some of this stress, streaming sites have started to pick up films that had limited releases earlier in the year, like “First Reformed” on Kanopy and “Beautiful Boy” on Amazon Prime. I don’t mean to complain about ease of access when it comes to films, especially concerning independent and foreign films that most of us outside of major cities would have no theatrical access to otherwise. But despite the sites’ efforts — as with other things in the streaming era — this only seem to make the options so abundant they feel impossible to choose from, the channels so easy to access they become forgettable and the watchlists so long they seem never-ending.
When the Oscar nominees were announced this past Tuesday, I approached the list with a weathered sense of acceptance that they would be disappointing. The Academy’s choices were, reliably, confusing to the point of frustration. Critically-acclaimed, fan favorites like “Suspiria,” “Widows,” “Eighth Grade” and “Hereditary” were all completely shut out from nominations.
“Green Book,” the Golden Globes winner for Best Drama film and current Oscar favorite for “Best Picture,” has been called out for for racist inaccuracy by the family of the man it’s based on, was written by a man criticized for radical right-wing, racist tweets and was directed by a man with a questionable history of sexual misconduct. I haven’t seen it, so my criticism holds absolutely no weight, but like with last year’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” I feel the need to comment on its politics to excuse my lack of seeing it. Maybe my late New Year’s resolution will be to accept that I don’t have to watch every film nominated because, maybe, just maybe, the nomination never meant anything in the first place.
Award shows — the Oscars in particular — at their worst can be overly-politicized pieces of Hollywood pageantry that congratulates themselves for moral superiority they consistently fail to uphold. But at their best, they can be really fun pieces of Hollywood pageantry, giving us moments like Olivia Colman referring to her “The Favourite” co-stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as her “bitches” on live television at the Golden Globes earlier this year. This year, I’ll try to accept that it’s an honor for Olivia and her bitches to even be nominated.
Arts & Entertainment Contributor | Class of 2019 | Major: Communication