Friday, March 9, 2018

Notes on the 2018 Award Season

This is the first year in a long time that I had to skip all the major awards ceremonies.  I found it was impossible to put aside the time to watch the multi-hour ceremonies all in one go, though I did eventually managed go back and watch the Oscars and Golden Globes in bits and pieces.  This was immensely frustrating for me because I generally enjoy award shows, and still managed to follow all the races. This was a pretty eventful year too, with a strong field of contenders, and all the fallout of the recent scandals in play.  

We're going to look back on this season as the year of #Metoo and #Timesup, the year that Oprah delivering an inspiring speech at the Golden Globes led to many people seriously pushing for her to run for office.  The award shows have always had political moments, but this year we weren't just ducking barbs at Trump and the NRA, but watching a painfully self-conscious industry in the middle of trying to redress an avalanche of past wrongs.  If the #OscarsSoWhite controversy had them scrambling to diversity and modernize, the far more visible post-Weinstein furor effected some breathtakingly fast changes. Several familiar faces are now persona non grata. The assets of the Weinstein Company were nearly bought by a female led investor group.  The Oscars went so far as to incorporate Time's Up content into an official Twitter campaign and parts of the ceremony itself.

This is doing absolutely nothing for the ratings, of course, which continue to slide even after the amazing gaffe with the Best Picture winner announcement last year.  "The Shape of Water" was also the highest grossing best picture winner in years, and the Academy Awards ceremonies usually see more interest when the contenders are more popular.  "Get Out" and "Dunkirk" were other box office winners, but it doesn't seem to have helped this year. Everyone still seems to love talking about what's going on at the Globes and the Oscars, and clips of the telecasts went viral afterwards, but nobody much seems to like watching them live anymore.  For my part, one of the reasons why I couldn't watch the Oscars is because ABC continues to make it impossible to watch it live online without a cable subscription.

It gets a little harder to care about who actually wins the Oscar statuettes every year.  With the exception of Roger Deakins finally getting his Best Cinematography win, and Jordan Peele's triumph in Original Screenplay, pretty much none of the major awards went to the nominees I wanted them to.  Sure, it was nice to see Guillermo Del Toro up on stage, because I love Del Toro and could listen to him talk for hours, but "The Shape of Water" was pretty far down in my rankings of the Best Picture nominees this year.  I suppose, like with Gary Oldman and Allison Janney, I don't mind so much because these are artists who have done plenty of good work in the past that I've enjoyed. I was more upset that Bill Paxton somehow wasn't in the In Memoriam montage (again).      

The actual ceremony was fun though.  I loved the montages. The jet ski running joke yielded some good things and had a magnificent punchline.  Jimmy Kimmel handled a lot of politically charged material with admirable directness and sensitivity, way better than Seth Meyers managed at the Globes.  And I will never not applaud an appearance by Eddie Vedder. It was heartening to see so much support in the room when Salma Hayek, Annabella Sciorra and Ashley Judd had their moment, and I can only hope that the momentum behind Times Up doesn't fade.  Hollywood still has a long way to go.

I fully expect to be back to watching the Oscar ceremony live next year, or at least a lot sooner than I managed this year.  

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