First, allow me to second Patrick Goldstein’s sentiment: “Anyone who doesn’t believe that the Oscars haven’t been thoroughly hijacked by a gang of daffy, clown-suit-clad Oscar bloggers making endlessly moronic best picture predictions just hasn’t been paying attention.” It’s sad, but true; audience reaction has less to do with who gets nominated when the Oscars roll around than what a cadre of no-life web-based hacks have to say about the process. It’s really quite sad.
Let’s take a closer look at the page Goldstein links to (a fellow LA Times blogger, no less). These guys are making predictions about movies that almost no one has seen. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Gran Torino,” “Che”…these are movies that aren’t even in limited release yet! Shouldn’t the audience get some say in who the nominees are?
John Nolte (a/k/a Dirty Harry) has been railing about this for years: Hollywood loves picking obscure films few people outside the industry have seen and elevating them to the level of “best picture nominees” to show how smart and cultured they are. “This isn’t an argument on my part that Best Picture picks should in anyway be based on popularity,” Nolte writes. “That would be stupid. But what a sad statement that the films the industry are most proud of are met with almost complete indifference at the box office.” Hear hear.
I would like to raise one quibble with Goldstein, however; later in his post, he writes that it’s absurd to think that Hollywood would nominate the new biopic “Milk,” about the first openly gay man elected to office, in reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 (the California ballot proposition banning gay marriage). To which I say: Really? The movie was Oscar bait anyway — the Academy loves director Gus Van Sant and lead actor Sean Penn — and now there’s a “reason” to push for its inclusion: America’s homophobia. Hollywood loves teaching dirty bigots (as they see regular Americans) lessons in tolerance, and has for decades. I’d argue that the following are both safe bets: “Milk” grosses less than $30M at the box office and garners nominations for best picture and best actor, at least. Goldstein’s fooling himself if he thinks otherwise.