Do you think Academy Awards has hurt film?

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Look at it from this perspective.

The movie industry is a business, they want to make money. If there were no award shows, then people would only be making blockbusters.

I feel like we need those people who want to win awards because it opens the door to smaller stories being told. More variety. People taking chances on things. "Well, this might not earn a lot of money, but it will earn an Oscar." Those movies might be more interesting to people than seeing Spider-Man swing around for the 8th time.
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Those movies might be more interesting to people than seeing Spider-Man swing around for the 8th time.

Right, but it also takes interest and respectability from spectacle movies, and this lowers the chance that we'll get an indie-style Spider-Man; not just a man swinging around, but an introspective conversational partner at a diner considering the existential condition of the hero with a fellow Avenger. The depths! The levels we could explore! Who is the Academy to rob us of this by artificially inflating the profile of other films?



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I don't think the Academy Awards have hurt film. I do think their choices have hurt the prestige of the Academy Awards itself. Becoming much more overtly political than they were before, especially in the last few years, I think have hurt the ratings for the Academy Awards. I also think the movies they are nominating are also hurting the perception of the awards because they are increasingly tending to choose an increasingly narrower band of films that are not widely seen or appreciated by the public at large. The movies they used to choose were both widely seen and appreciated, and of a high quality. When they continue to nominate movies that the public has largely not seen, or which are not widely appreciated, it impacts who is interested in watching the Academy Awards. I also think that the prestige of the awards has declined because they are not viewed by the majority of the public as the trusted arbiter of quality that they once were. They are still being seen that way now by some, namely industry professionals and film critics, but it's becoming a much smaller number of people in my opinion, and that does not bode well for the longevity of the Academy Awards, or its continued place in our culture.
On the other hand, consider what kind of films are being "widely seen and appreciated" by audiences these days and how the overall Hollywood business model has shifted to accommodate films that do not merit prestige awards attention. It's interesting to note how Kramer vs. Kramer was a low-key divorce drama that not only won multiple Oscars (including Best Picture) but was the highest-grossing film of the year versus a loosely equivalent film like Marriage Story going straight to Netflix in a year where the highest-grossing film was part 22 of a superhero franchise. This doesn't automatically suggest that the Academy has lost touch with audiences so much as it does that mass audiences are settling for less when it comes to popular entertainment (though this is symptomatic of the monoculture coming apart due to diversification of entertainment options, especially the idea that the only movies worth seeing in theatres are the biggest spectacles available belonging to reliable franchises). After all, what choice does the Academy have - to actually nominate something like Spider-Man: No Way Home for Best Picture despite it being functionally indistinguishable from the rest of its franchise? At least Black Panther had a nominally interesting angle to its narrative that meant it made some sense for the Academy to recognise it. That the Academy offered up some fan-voted consolation awards that ended up being gamed by Zack Snyder fans anyway suggests they're really not going to end up pleasing anyone by ceding too much ground to what's popular (especially if the crowd that loves blockbusters already thinks the Academy is too elitist anyway so they're fighting a losing battle to win over an actively disinterested audience) - if more blockbusters were actually on the level of Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark or Fury Road, then sure.
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Look at it from this perspective.

The movie industry is a business, they want to make money. If there were no award shows, then people would only be making blockbusters.

I feel like we need those people who want to win awards because it opens the door to smaller stories being told. More variety. People taking chances on things. "Well, this might not earn a lot of money, but it will earn an Oscar." Those movies might be more interesting to people than seeing Spider-Man swing around for the 8th time.

There's many great movies I've seen who win awards, but would never be mentioned by an oscar. Film festivals, or even something like the New York Film Critics Circle, or other award shows.



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There's many great movies I've seen who win awards, but would never be mentioned by an oscar. Film festivals, or even something like the New York Film Critics Circle, or other award shows.

That doesn't invalidate my argument. I'm talking about awards in general, not just Oscar.



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That doesn't invalidate my argument. I'm talking about awards in general, not just Oscar.

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On the other hand, consider what kind of films are being "widely seen and appreciated" by audiences these days and how the overall Hollywood business model has shifted to accommodate films that do not merit prestige awards attention. It's interesting to note how Kramer vs. Kramer was a low-key divorce drama that not only won multiple Oscars (including Best Picture) but was the highest-grossing film of the year versus a loosely equivalent film like Marriage Story going straight to Netflix in a year where the highest-grossing film was part 22 of a superhero franchise. This doesn't automatically suggest that the Academy has lost touch with audiences so much as it does that mass audiences are settling for less when it comes to popular entertainment (though this is symptomatic of the monoculture coming apart due to diversification of entertainment options, especially the idea that the only movies worth seeing in theatres are the biggest spectacles available belonging to reliable franchises). After all, what choice does the Academy have - to actually nominate something like Spider-Man: No Way Home for Best Picture despite it being functionally indistinguishable from the rest of its franchise?
You do have a very legitimate point that movies such as "Kramer v. Kramer" used to be both critically acclaimed and widely seen and appreciated in the past, and now are not. However, I think your "Spider Man" reference is also a little bit of an overgeneralization that presents a false dichotomy. There is quite a gap between nominating a "Spider Man" movie, and nominating the types of movies that used to be nominated in the past, even as early as 10 years ago, but now are not. These well-made, but still popular films, have largely been replaced by an increasingly narrow range of films that often focuses on movies that highlight the experience of marginalized or minority groups, or that are made to promote traditionally liberal themes (Don't Look Up, The Power of the Dog) in order to virtue signal to as much as half of the country that often don't resonate with these increasingly niche choices.



You do have a very legitimate point that movies such as "Kramer v. Kramer" used to be both critically acclaimed and widely seen and appreciated in the past, and now are not. However, I think your "Spider Man" reference is also a little bit of an overgeneralization that presents a false dichotomy. There is quite a gap between nominating a "Spider Man" movie, and nominating the types of movies that used to be nominated in the past, even as early as 10 years ago, but now are not. These well-made, but still popular films, have largely been replaced by an increasingly narrow range of films that often focuses on movies that highlight the experience of marginalized or minority groups, or that are made to promote traditionally liberal themes (Don't Look Up, The Power of the Dog) in order to virtue signal to as much as half of the country that often don't resonate with these increasingly niche choices.
What on earth was "virtue-signaling" about Power Of The Dog, though?



What on earth was "virtue-signaling" about Power Of The Dog, though?
I haven't seen "Power of the Dog," so I may be missing the nuances here, but my understanding of it is that it focuses on a repressed gay man who is struggling with his sexuality because he doesn't feel he can express it due to societal pressures that were common in the old West. I also have heard many people, including Academy members who filled out the anonymous ballots, who really didn't like the film, but appreciated the message, which seemed to be that gay sexuality should be fully accepted and embraced, and that a failure to do so causes a lot of pain and struggle. Voting for a movie that you didn't really enjoy because you liked the message it sends is, in my opinion, a kind of virtue signaling.



I also have heard many people, including Academy members who filled out the anonymous ballots, who really didn't like [The Power of the Dog], but appreciated the message, which seemed to be that gay sexuality should be fully accepted and embraced, and that a failure to do so causes a lot of pain and struggle. Voting for a movie that you didn't really enjoy because you liked the message it sends is, in my opinion, a kind of virtue signaling.
You "heard" that from who? Sounds like completely unsourced speculation. Fun! Talk about virtue signaling.
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Hey Holden. I don't think we're going to agree on this, as you don't seem to have an issue with the films that the Academy has consistently nominated in recent years, but happy to clarify. I did not personally talk to any Academy members, but there were 20 or 30 anonymous Oscar ballots that I read, and many of them said they really didn't like "The Power of the Dog," and some of them still voted for Jane Campion as Best Director anyway. The ballots also said things like, I don't know of anyone who really loved this movie, etc. It also was nominated as a Best Picture candidate even though it was not broadly liked as a film. I read the same thing about "Don't Look Up." That it was almost no one's favorite film, and many didn't think it was particularly well executed, but they thought it was important to highlight the problem of climate change, and wanted to support it on that basis.



I did not personally talk to any Academy members, but there were 20 or 30 anonymous Oscar ballots that I read, and many of them said they really didn't like "The Power of the Dog," and some of them still voted for Jane Campion as Best Director anyway. The ballots also said things like, I don't know of anyone who really loved this movie, etc. It also was nominated as a Best Picture candidate even though it was not broadly liked as a film.
There is no place on an Academy ballot to leave comments. It’s a ballot, not a blog. You don’t check off your choice and then add, “So good!”, or “Eh, the best of the five, I guess, but my favorite was Spider-Man!”. Since nobody in the history of an official ballot for anything leaves a comments section I must presume that when you say you “read” the ballots you are referring to the pieces run by The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly and likely others who publish similar pieces each year where anonymous Academy members give their picks and their reasons for voting? There are just under 10,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One less, now that Will Smith is gone. Those published pieces look at two or three or ten voters. That small sample of exit polling isn’t accurate (it couldn’t possibly be…just mathematically). And thus each year the anonymous voters in those stories make some catty remarks about how they just don’t get this or that and hated that performance or movie and yet that is the thing that wins, anyway. Because that is one vote. Out of 10K.

This sort of cherry-picked, apocryphal data then becoming “fact” and “I heard lots of Academy voters think…” this or that is just plain silly. For months the narrative on shows that lean that way – because they always lean that way – is that stupid liberal Hollywood a-holes are demagogues who push agendas no matter what. Nobody even likes that crappy movie (this year The Power of the Dog, next year…stay tuned!) and yet it is going to win Best Picture. How predictable! How tragic! The Oscars suck. And then when, whoopsie, ummm that movie didn’t actually win Best Picture and we forgot to figure out why it is bad that CODA is Best Picture because we already had our narrative. But…the Oscars suck!

Very tiring. And I don’t mean the Oscars.



I haven't seen "Power of the Dog," so I may be missing the nuances here, but my understanding of it is that it focuses on a repressed gay man who is struggling with his sexuality because he doesn't feel he can express it due to societal pressures that were common in the old West. I also have heard many people, including Academy members who filled out the anonymous ballots, who really didn't like the film, but appreciated the message, which seemed to be that gay sexuality should be fully accepted and embraced, and that a failure to do so causes a lot of pain and struggle. Voting for a movie that you didn't really enjoy because you liked the message it sends is, in my opinion, a kind of virtue signaling.
I love films about homosexuality and go as far as to seek them out; however, I must have had a migraine or something the day I watched it as I do not remember any homoerotic overtones (I have been told I’m wrong, but… there we are). And I guess I didn’t like it enough to rewatch it just yet to see if I will see them the second time around. Agreed on your last sentence though.



Agreed on your last sentence though.
Voting for a movie that you didn't really enjoy because you liked the message it sends is, in my opinion, a kind of virtue signaling.
You bet! Let's beat the crap outta that straw man! Of course there's no way to prove that anyone is voting that way, certainly voting that way en masse. But just to be safe...yeah, I don't think that's the best way to vote.

Also, I don't know if anybody is kidnapping children and squirrels from my neighborhood and then killing them and wearing their skins as pelts. But if there are people out there doing that...I want to say unequivocally that I believe such practices are wrong and should be stopped immediately! I don't care who or how many of you disagree with me, I am against it!



You bet! Let's beat the crap outta that straw man! Of course there's no way to prove that anyone is voting that way, certainly voting that way en masse. But just to be safe...yeah, I don't think that's the best way to vote.
What’s that? I’m confused. I merely said that voting out of virtue signalling is odd. I do think that it sometimes happens. I don’t have a view on whether any such virtue signalling occurred in this particular case (though back during the Moonlight vs La La Land controversy, I may have found that argument not unreasonable).



What’s that? I’m confused. I merely said that voting out of virtue signalling is odd.
And I am merely saying there is no way to prove or disprove that it is happening at all, for this year's ballot or any other.

I do think that it sometimes happens.
Well, I take it back. You convinced me.



What on earth was "virtue-signaling" about Power Of The Dog, though?

There wasn't any. Any movie identified as being about marginalized people reflexively gets tagged as this because, I don't know, some people get confused why someone would make a movie about people who are different unless there are ulterior motives.



It's lazy nonsense that makes it seem no one could possibly want to see stories about such people. It's gross and deeply irritating.


And, it's also deeply irritating that people can't see the possible value in a films worth if it isn't embraced by the most standard and bland type of audience imaginable. Power of the Dog might not be the most dynamic crowd pleaser in the world, but there is a quality of the filmmaking here that should be obvious enough not to completely confuse people when it gets nominated. It's beautiful to look at. It's well acted. It's richly nuanced. It has a grand scope yet is also insular and mysterious. There doesn't have to be some 'virtue signalling conspiracy' for it to have some kind of credit with people. And I say this as someone who was far from wowed by it.