“I don’t think the Oscars like commercial films, or kids’ films, unless they’re directed byMartin Scorsese. I was watching Hugo the other day and going, ‘Why was this nominated and we’re not?’ I was slightly miffed.”-Daniel Radcliffe on the lack of nomination…
This is a fair sentiment. After years and years of working up to that film, it’s understood why he (as the lead character!) would be “miffed”. Let’s be honest, this, along with tons of other commercially successful films, are ignored every year. Very rarely do you find yourself impressed with a large portion of Best Picture nominees, let alone having even fucking heard of them. Awards shows are not geared towards the people who actually go to see movies. It’s true. I hate to throw words like “elitist” around, but it certainly feels that way. In fact, I’m going to give you a run down of this year’s Best Picture nominees for the Academy Awards:
-Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
-Midnight in Paris
-The Tree of Life
Okay, I’m not going to stand here and lie to you. Moneyball is fantastic stuff. But, I’m saying that as a huge fan of baseball AND the book the film was based on. I was already quite familiar with the story, therefore, quite excited. Had we taken Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill out of the equation however, would any of us actually give a damn about a film solely revolving around Billy Ball? Answer: NO. Just us baseball nerds. Moneyball is only one of the nominees in this category. The other films do nothing to get me screaming for more. Most of them seem boring in comparison to other films released within the acceptable time frame. For example: Would ANY of us have given a shit about The Artist had it not gotten a robust hand job from The Golden Globes? Hell, most of us did not know it existed! (Sidenote: A movie made as a “tribute” to silent film that was not shot on film…yeah.) With the exception of only a few of the aforementioned titles, this category is chock full of unknown/forgettable titles that will be in the $5.99 and Under bin alongside Lost in Translation very soon. That’s par for the course with awards season. It’s the only time you’ll see the studios not measuring success in box office receipts.
The saving grace in all this is knowing that we, the people who pay for movie tickets, don’t truly give a damn about what film critics (ahem) or trophies have to say. We love what we love because it captivates us. Yes, people went to see the movie The Tree of Life. But did we draw the correlation between the number of audience members with ponytails, Birkenstocks, and Chai Tea addictions? Probably not. All kidding aside, Daniel Radcliffe’s reaction, though warranted, is futile. The “academy” (whatever the fuck that is) has been ignoring genre films of all sorts for years. It’s just the nature of the beast. A prime example would be The Nick Refn movie, DRIVE. Easily one of the best films to be released in 2011, it had everything: intriguing story arc, characters you could emotionally invest in, a logical/suitable soundtrack, and excellent cinematography. When nominations for this year’s Oscars were announced, there was a mass public outcry over Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks not getting any form of nomination. They each put forth intense performances that had me wondering the same. WHY would these 2 NOT get the nomination?! What could possibly be going through the minds of those voting?! Then it occurred to me…it doesn’t fucking matter. At all.
Awards shows hold about as much weight as crybaby comment threads on this here interma’net. They’re bullshit. Fluff. Empty calories. They mean absolutely nothing. Do they make a movie any less impactful? Nope. Does winning one bolster the legacy of a great movie? Sometimes temporarily, but not for the long haul. The movie’s ability to impact its audience does that (a question the late, great Ken Russell could have answered with ease.) I will readily admit that I find a way to force Gaspar Noe’s name into many conversations. I am an obsessed fanboy. I think EVERYONE should experience his films. They resonate with me in a way very few films do. I re-examine my ethics after I watch his movies. I have to look at myself in the mirror differently. They change me. While I know I just certified my insanity with this Unabomber-like proclamation, it also serves as a good addendum to all of this. That being, his movies have done all of that without being awarded a trophy. Gaspar Noe does not wear gold-plated diapers and eat dinosaur eggs for breakfast. Instead, he makes his art out of emotional necessity and doesn’t give any sort of organization or academy a single thought. That exact passion is what draws all of us to the things we discuss on this website and in conversation with our friends. Our favorite films do not win Oscars. Very, VERY rarely do our favorite filmmakers even get acknowledged. David Lynch, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noe, Rainer Werner Fassbinder-all names that have been given a lack of attention to a criminal degree. But it doesn’t change what they’ve done. Their contributions to cinema are invaluable. Still, our world is different though, isn’t it? In this world, Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS is BEN-HUR. In this world, the name Romero holds a god-like weight that is reserved for the name Spielberg in theirs’. Neither world is wrong, just different. This is what makes those cries of injustice useless. When the day ends, a movie’s legacy is measured in longevity. So, in 30 years when film students are viewing DRIVE or reading 2 chapters on the films of Guillermo Del Toro and haven’t even heard of The Descendants, then the weight of a trophy will truly be measured. Cult/genre films (or films that have those leanings) get bypassed because a studio exec’s wife thinks George Clooney needs another statue to put in the shed of his summer house. It’s old hat…and it shouldn’t mean shit to us.
This brings it back full circle to Mr. Radcliffe. His voicing of frustration is valid. Hell, it’s important. This lets us know that this shit isn’t just a paycheck to these cats. In fact, it’s on the same level of importance to the performer as it is the audience. That sentiment should be seen as comforting. It should also be seen as the exact reason why we needn’t worry about Harry Potter not being nominated for an Oscar. At the risk of sounding like some sort of reverse elitist, “their” world is different than “our” world. Meaning we do not go on the advice of an awards panel. We go to the movies to get the shit scared out of us, or laugh our asses off, or to get our adrenaline moving into hyper-speed, or all of the above. Daniel Radcliffe’s contribution to cinema’s history thus far cannot be measured in how many trophies he’s piling up. But it can be measured in other things. Such as premieres of Harry Potter movies that are attended by mass crowds who will risk the elements to scream out to their beloved Harry. It can be measured in record-breaking worldwide box office numbers. And on a personal note, it can be measured in countless times curling up with my wife and son for the day to watch a whole mess of Harry Potter movies together. A trophy won’t get you that sort of lifespan. Same goes for DRIVE. Nicolas Winding Refn has cemented his cult status several times over. This time, however, he did it with so much style that fans of the film felt obligated to scream out in its defense. That’s a pure loyalty that will insure DRIVE being shown at Alamo Drafthouse 20 years from now. So, Mr. Radcliffe-let them have their trophies. You have far greater things to hold onto. Being in a film series that transcends generations is bigger than an award. It’s your destiny…get it? Cuz’ he’s “the chosen one”?
This rant isn’t meant to do anything other than remind us of genre film’s place. Your favorite horror/sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/exploitation/romantic comedy/porno is never, ever, ever, ever going to win an Oscar. Ever. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. That’s totally cool. It’s importance to you is what makes these films so successful. That’s why The Avengers movie is highly anticipated and a British period piece is not. They’re awarded by the pretentious because they assume it’s what should be awarded. In short, it means nothing. From here on out, we need to make a promise to ourselves as the supporters of genre/subversive cinema. No more whining. The constant Internet threads about the travesty of our favorite films of the year not being acknowledged by the Academy, must cease. The memes (and the use of that word. BLECH!) crying bullshit every time Nathan Fillion or Bruce Campbell isn’t recognized for an Emmy sort-of-something-or-other ends now. No more turning over tables when John Waters doesn’t get the Cecil B. Demille. Sam Raimi will not receive a lifetime achievement award, so stop petitioning for it. Instead, do your part to support the movies (and makers) you love. Pay for the ticket to go see that thing! Go see it more than once, in fact. Then, when it comes out on blu-ray, buy it! Buy the 2 disc special collector’s limited edition in the special packaging. After 2 years, go back and buy it again when the anniversary edition comes out. Frame the movie poster in your home. Tattoo your favorite character’s face on your body (again, ahem…). Years later, share it with your kids. Keep cult film alive the same way we always have; by turning our back to bullshit academies and supporting KICK ASS MOVIES!!! Our devotion is our greatest weapon. We are the cult in cult films. Join US!!!
Tags: albert brooks, Bruce Campbell, comic book, cult film, Daniel Radcliffe, drive, fantasy, Gaspar Noe, genre film, harry potter, Horror, John Waters, Ken Russell, nathan fillion, pier paolo pasolini, porno, rainer werner fassbinder, ryan gosling, Sam Raimi, sci fi, subversive, the devils