I don't mean to boast or brag, but when I was in middle school, one of the things people would always love to do was to come up and ask me a year between 1929 and that current year. When asked, I'd tell them who won Best Picture, Actor, Actress & Director. It's something that I once was proud of but when asked now is almost a burden.
There was a time when I was absolutely obssessed with the history of the Oscars. Who won. Who presented. Right up to the point where I'd try to track down every Best Picture and watch it. This obsession went so far that whenever I'd see an actor's name in the TV guide who was nominated, I'd underline his or her name. I'd even do this in the World Almanacs I would get annually for Christmas. There was something special about seeing a TV program that honored the one thing you were in love with- movies. The Super Bowl just wasn't my thing.
Then in 1999, the Oscars were hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. Her jokes fell flat of course. But it was a montage presented at the beginning of the show that completely drew my attention. Edited by Chuck Workman, it spliced together films in such a fluid way. Using the music of Hans Zimmer (Thin Red Line) and John Williams (Saving Private Ryan), the montage demonstrated how one can re-cycle pieces of art and make them into a cohesive whole that works.
While the wonder of that montage played in my mind throughout the ceremony, things came to a screeching halt when the winner of Best Picture was announced. My fingers were crossed for Saving Private Ryan. A film called Shakespeare In Love won. As I got older, I found out why it won: lots and lots campaigning from two suits named Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The last two years of the Academy Awards have told me one thing, I kind of already knew but with each successive ceremony becomes more pronounced, these award shows are shit. I'm not dogging The Artist. I actually enjoyed it. What I don't enjoy is seeing films like Drive almost completely shafted. The last time the Oscars had any balls was when they gave No Country For Old Men Best Picture. Now it seems, more than ever, like they castrated themselves.
Terms of Endearment over The Right Stuff
Driving Miss Daisy over Do the Right Thing
Dances With Woles over GoodFellas
Gladiator over Traffic
Crash over...fuck, Crash over anything.
Tom Hooper beating out David Fincher for best director
Then there's the films that weren't even nominated for Best Picture: A History of Violence, Heat, Night of the Hunter, etc. It comes down to this, when the 60 year old voter is looking at King's Speech and Social Network or Driving Miss Daisy and Born On the Fourth of July, it's likely they'll tick the box of both of the former films. Know your voting audience.
Looking back at the list of Best Picture nominees, are people really going to give a fuck about The Best Years of Our Lives? Or are they going to watch It's A Wonderful Life instead? Do people remember The Greatest Show On Earth or do they remember High Noon?
If you are a true fan of the art, I'm preaching to the choir when I say these awards have no meaning whatsoever. You can't objectively say Crash was the Best Picture of 2005 with a straight face.