Posted by: daveed | March 5, 2010

Golden child

Contrarian film critic Armond White does a brilliant take-down of the Oscars that pretty much sums up why I think they suck:

Everyone has their wakeup moment about the Academy Awards: A moment when you put away childish belief and realize it’s not at all about art but about popularity (as Sally Field once indicated and then got lambasted for her clarity). Mine happened back in 1977 when Rocky won Best Picture and Taxi Driver did not. No plainer illustration of art vs. commerce is imaginable, but the reality has been blurred ever since.

For me, it happened in 1999, when the Academy gave Shakespeare in Love five statues. That steaming pile of turd beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, and The Truman Show for Best Original Screenplay. The broadcast was further marred by the excruciatingly awful antics of Roberto Benigni, who won the Oscar for Best Actor.

Since then, the Academy’s choices have been one disappointment after another. Or rather, a confirmation that has little to do with rewarding outstanding cinema—the utterly justified Oscar recognition for The Departed notwithstanding.

So this Sunday, fuck the Oscars. Watch instead those films you’ve seen a dozen times, the ones you love with all your heart and soul. That’s reward enough.


  1. For future reference, please never use “brilliant” and “Armond White” in the same sentence ever again. There is a real danger of the universe imploding onto itself.

    As for the Oscars, I’ve never really had any illusions about their veracity, but that’s never stopped me from watching, and periodically enjoying, them.

    And just to further disagree with you, I really enjoyed Shakespeare in Love. Did I like it better than Saving Private Ryan? No, but it was my third favourite movie of 1998. My second was Out of Sight, which not only lost to Gods and Monsters for Adapted Screenplay, but wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. The Truman Show was 7th on my list for that year.

    I would have given Saving Private Ryan Best Picture that year, but Shakespeare in Love was a very well written film that has become someone underrated, in my opinion. Besides, the horrible bookends in Saving Private Ryan prevented it becoming a truly great film.

  2. Hey Tim, thanks for your comment.

    Out of Sight was a fantastic movie, and the best Elmore Leonard adaptation I’ve seen. But as far as SIL, it’s just not one of those films that will stand the test of time. People forgot about it a year later, whereas Saving Private Ryan still has an impact.

    And I think the bookends, while perhaps overly sentimental, provided a solid emotional grounding to the film outside of the context of war: that even from “good” wars like WWII, veterans live with the horror, doubt and sadness for the rest of their lives.

  3. I think Shakespeare In Love holds up better than you think. I rewatched recently it for the first time since it came out and was surprised at how much I still liked it. It’s writing is probably it’s best attribute, and I think it’s less flawed as a movie than Saving Private Ryan, which apart from the bookend scenes (which were definitely not needed and apparently not in the original script) had a couple of clunker scenes and hamstrung dialogue.

  4. Yeah, I found SIL nearly unwatchable the first time around. I doubt I’ll give it a second try.

  5. […] of truth If movie posters featuring this year’s mostly anemic Oscar nominees for Best Picture were 100% honest about the films they were promoting, they might look something like […]

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