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Idol Chatter

The Oscars are fun—in fact they’re one of our family’s favorite nights of the year. We have three girls who (along with my wife) love the fashion show, while my son and I mostly laugh at that part while enjoying the rest. We toured the Kodak theater as a family this year and also love looking up Oscar history and watching old Oscar winners.

But as much as I love it, I’m almost always disappointed at the nominations. It seems like every year there are great films left out and performances overlooked. Worse than that, there are nominees that are just horrible, lacking in any staying power–movies and performances that, a few years from now, will be long-forgotten, let alone remembered as great. As fun as Oscar Night is–and as much as I hate to say it–the nominations process is not.

But that shouldn’t surprise me, because the Academy isn’t a committee of people who deliberate over a well-reasoned choice. In fact, Oscar has more in common with political campaigns than it does with artistic awards processes. The Golden Globes and various Guild awards are sort of like the state primaries and caucuses, and the media is manipulated through advertising and well-orchestrated buzz in a way similar to today’s spins on the State of the Union speech.

If you–like many of the Idol Bloggers and myself–believe that some wonderful performances and pictures were overlooked by Oscar, you’re right, and the real bummer is that it’s not going to change any time soon. The Oscar campaign officially starts in November, and while there are sometimes attempts at restrictions, it’s obvious that Hollywood won’t be the place to put limits on “free speech,” even if that freedom messes with a straightforward voting process.

History will show that “Dreamgirls” won eight nominations and not a “Best Picture” nod, but no one will remark on the fact that that may have had more to do with five stronger campaigns than whether this was one of the best five pictures. History may evaluate that “Children of Men” was a better pic than it got credit for, but probably not the detail that the studio dollars have been spent on marketing (it moves to 1,200 screens today) rather than its Oscar campaign.

I somehow wish for the myth I had when I was a kid–that the Academy honored its best. At present, I think the actual performances are not what are judged: I think they’re merely the opening salvos in a campaign that ends on Oscar Night. And we’ll be watching. I wish it was different, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it anyway.

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