The Academy Awards or Oscars are a collection of awards presented to various members of the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their accomplishments in achieving the pinnacle of bland mediocrity in their art form. Begun in 1929 as a cheap publicity stunt, the Oscars have since proved both the xenophobic adoration of American audiences and the disturbing stupidity of modern film. The Oscar statues itself, pictured right, are "a lot heavier than [any given first-time Oscar winner] thought".
Sometimes, it may seem like the Academy has invented an arbitrary set of stupidly biased rules that prevent any good movie from winning anything. But don't worry! They are invented with purpose, and although this rule book has been heavily edited and amended, its purpose remains a wonderfully idealistic and inspiring one: fuck cinematic merit, reward hackneyed cliche. Following are excerpts from this rulebook:
- "'Rule 1: The Academy Awards must be longer in length than Titanic, Gone with the Wind, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, combined. If all awards are given out before the end of the ceremony, the Academy will start doing other things with the remaining time, such as praising Citizen Kane.
- Rule 2: In order to be nominated, the actor's movie character must be gay, retarded, or naked throughout the whole film.
- Rule 5: The Academy Awards shall begin with a CGI intro which will showcase eye-popping blockbusters such as The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, and Spider-Man. This does not mean that these films shall actually win the Award for Best Picture. See rule 22.
- Rule 22: The Award for Best Picture shall go to a boring, overwrought, hackneyed film steeped in melodramatic cliché and one-dimensional characters. Anyone wishing to complain may send letters to the large incinerator we keep in the basement, right next to the only known bad reviews of Citizen Kane.
- Rule 55: The Academy shall never give Martin Scorsese a Best Director award. If he wishes to complain he may do so into the already-mentioned incinerator. 
- Rule 220: No science-fiction movie, no matter how eye-popping, revolutionary, or thought-provoking, shall ever win an Oscar. Sorry, they're just not Citizen Kane.
- Rule 221: Same goes for comic-book movies.
- Rule 222: And Pixar films too, but they've got their own category (see Rule 1,001).
- Rule 1,001: The Best Animated Picture Award shall always go to the Pixar nominee, since it's not like there's anything else to vote for. Monsters vs Aliens, anyone?
- Rule 1,040: The awards for all the boring, irrelevant categories that no one wants to see, like "Best Costumes" and "Best Art Direction," shall be done first, and the important ones shall be done last, late at night, when everyone has gone to bed. Nevertheless, we will wonder about the low Nielsen ratings.
- Rule 1,500 1/2: Anyone receiving any award must give a thank you speech at least twice as long as Barack Obama's inaugurational address.
- Rule 2,001: Films are the highest form of art, at least for the purposes of Oscar Night.
Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah. Hang on there. Film is an art form?
The short answer is, it once was.
The medium-sized, rather emotionally charged answer is, yes, yes it is god damn it! It's the single most important art form since the invention of paint!
For the long answer, we must look to AMPAS itself. AMPAS is single-handedly responsible for your incredulity over the notion of film as art.
There was a time in the history of the cinematic craft that artistic merit was a consideration. For AMPAS, however, this would not do. Artistic merit failed to bring filmgoers to their product in the droves that they needed in order to create more of their product and pay their mortgages on their fancy hillside Hollywood mansions.
So they created the Oscars. The sole purpose of this award ceremony was to reward those of their craft that avoided artistic accomplishment at all (and often literally all) costs. The more money that was spent appealing to the lowest common denominator of film appreciation, the more likely a film was to get the award.
And thus great art in cinema was all but abandoned.
From the very earliest days, Oscar statues were given to tripe and banality. Gone With the Wind, a bad romance novel in living color, exemplifies this with aplomb. And per the stalwart will of the industry, this trend continues to this day.
Film as art aside, by far the most important aspect of the awards ceremony is the attire worn by the attendees. Every year, millions of dollars are spent by the ceremony's attendees on their gawk-and-ogle outfits, and even more dollars are won and lost in office pools across the nation over the best and worst dressed ladies. The men all wear black tuxedos and don't matter here. Of course the homosexual television fashion critics try to pretend they care about the men's looks, but nobody is fooled. The men's outfits don't matter, unless they are former drug addicts doing the comeback-story-of-the-year thing - in which case they can wear a clown suit and take their place on the worst-dressed list.
The most important aspect of Oscar fashion is the opportunity it affords to pile more dirty laundry, if you will, on top of the already overflowing hamper of popular culture reference satire resources. Simply put, without bad Oscar night dresses, there are many satirists out there who would quite literally be hurting for material. Fortunately for this effort, the only reason I have needed to explain all of this is to have another paragraph so that the section expands to the size of the outlandish Cher picture on the right that I really needed to include. I have plenty of material without these pitiful excuses for outfits.
But that Cher one is hilarious.
Throwing real film lovers a bone
AMPAS became aware that elitist film snobs such as this author had nothing but disdain for their silly prize, and they feared for their "cred" - which is an industry term meaning "appeal to elitist snobs like this author". So, just to be able to maintain some ammunition against all-out attacks on them, such as this article, they have now and then thrown a little Oscar bone or two to real films of high artistic merit. For example:
- Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II
- Woody Allen's Annie Hall
- Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter
- Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven
- Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List
- Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
- The Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men
Some of the snobs maintain that they see through this ruse, and insist that AMPAS's little award is still of no real consequence, these little bones being too few and too far between.
Others, however, are so starved for the attention that they consume the award lustily, and come back every year hoping against hope that true artistic merit might get recognized once again. But time and again they are disappointed by tripe and drivel.
The Best Picture truth
Sadly, tripe and drivel have historically been the operative words for this award. Below are examples of Oscar-winning tripe spanning the years represented by the five films listed above alone. As you can clearly see, these snore-fests outnumber the quality films overwhelmingly.
- Around the World in 80 Days
- You think that's impressive? Well, I actually sat through this, now that's impressive.
- Who's heard of this one? No one? It won NINE FUCKING OSCARS and you haven't even heard of it...you know what, I don't blame you.
- Who will buy? Who will buy? Somehow, this overrated movie of the overrated novel convinced almost everyone to buy it. Really, no thanks, I'm not buying it. Oh yeah, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the greatest sci-fi ever made that came out in the same year, wasn't nominated.
- Kramer vs. Kramer
- Go ahead. Compare "I'm walking, here" to "You put that ice cream in your mouth and you are in very, very, VERY big trouble" - how quickly Oscar fell from its Midnight Cowboy mini-triumph. You do realize that Kramer vs. Kramer beat Apocalypse Now, right?
- Ordinary People
- ...and this piece of melodrama beat Raging Bull and The Elephant Man- do I really need to go on? Shit.
- Chariots of Fire
- Vangelis made this movie what it is - an overlong feel-good religious soggy noodle.
- Speaking of overlong. You know, I remember they had an intermission during the showing of this one. These days they don't put intermissions in the middle of three-hour movies. I had to pee during Benjamin Button...
- Terms of Endearment
- You know what? Just... no comment. They couldn't even nominate the fucking classic "The King of Comedy", just ridiculous.
- Remember when we heard that Tom Hulce was the next Robert Duvall? No? Yeah, I don't either. For some odd fucking reason "Once Upon a Time in America" couldn't be nominated, not like a great movie like that would be.
- Out of Africa
- Everyone cries that Meryl Streep hasn't won an Oscar for like twelve years. Let me say this. I was twenty years old when this drag came out and Streep got all that praise and glory, and I said "overrated". I think the twelve years since her last Oscar has been too short. Another instance of science fiction being snubbed was when the bitchin ass classic film "Brazil" was snubbed of a nomination. Further proof that my butt hole is smarter than AMPAS.
- Rain Man
- Can Tom Cruise act? Well, yes, he actually can. See Magnolia. But like Rene Zellweger, he's only ever as good as the movie he's in. This one is no exception. And it isn't very good.
- Driving Miss Daisy
- You're my best friend, Hoke. Spare me. Morgan Freeman is sensational and so is that old lady and Dan Fucking Akroyd but come on?
- Dances With Wolves
- WTF? Are you shitting me? Ummm, Goodfellas, anyone? Hey, Kevin Costner, do I amuse you? Am I funny, like a clown? Dance with this, asshole.
- Forrest Gump
- Yeah, maybe you never know what you're gonna get, but you know Pulp Fiction isn't gonna get this award. Yes, "Stupid is as stupid does" beat "Royale with cheese". Did I mention the Shawshank - FUCKING - Redemption?! Our movies would be so much cooler if "Pulp Fiction" or "The Shawshank Redemption" had won.
- I would rather have seen Babe the talking piglet win this. I really would have. "Se7en" is way better than this load crap, and it wasn't even nominated. If AMPAS can't recognize "Se7en" than they are dumber than a jizz covered condom. And they couldn't handle Casino because was too violent, fags.
- The English Patient
- A mushy love story that has no original dialogue or plot beat out Fargo. Oh well, it's not like this kind of movie can happen in the next two years.
- Ohhh, don't get me started. No, really, don't. I turned the television off in great fury after they announced this load of hooey for best picture - even though I knew they were going to. I will never learn.
- Shakespeare in Love
- In retrospect, this was actually a relief in its novelty. Yes, I know it beat the greatest war movie ever made, Malick's Thin Red Line, and that's typical Oscar nonsense, but I had no hope of that winning - I just like the fact that it was interesting and not a typical automatic win for Saving Private Ryan.
- A Beautiful Mind
- Richard Gere singing and dancing to the tune of Razzle Dazzle. Enough said. Another great Martin Scorsese movie isn't "worthy"
with "Gangs of New York".
- Million Dollar Baby
- Oh, Clint, oh, Clint. Where has your cinematic vision gone?
- Cronenberg's film was muuuuuch better. What? James Spader and Holly Hunter? The car crash as a metaphor for sex? J.G. Ballard, for shit's sake? You kidding me? They should have made a cable TV show out of that movie, not this cavalcade of stereotypes.
- The Departed
- The FUCKING disingenuous FUCKING Scorsese nod. Look, just because you failed to acknowledge him when he was great.... Even my dad, who hasn't seen a movie since Bridge Over the River Kwai or some such thing, knows that this is Scorsese's maybe eighth best movie. After Hours was better than this. Nicholson phones it in, as usual.
- Slumdog Millionaire
- Again, don't get me started. The only good part of this shallow, predictable melodrama was the Bollywood number during the closing credits. "It is our destiny." Really? Can we find a second dimension for our characters somewhere, maybe? Some depth? Destiny. Ugh.
- The Hurt Locker
- A sanitized touchy-feely war movie (Full Metal Jacket this isn't) with an inexplicable title. Congratulations, you beat out four dreadful melodramas, your ex-husband's turdfest, a corny waste of CGI, two brilliant movies, and the year's actual best picture, Up.
- The King's Speech
- The first time I read that this movie was being made, I knew it was going to sweep the oscars, without the movie even being released before my prediction. This battle was won far before it had even begun. And in the year of fantastic movies like The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception, Toy Story 3... This movie, however, would have won Best Picture regardless of what crap it actually contained! Not only was it SO predictable that it would win Best Picture, the movie wasnt even good, at all! Then AMPAS had the nerve to give Tom Whooper the award for Best Director over Fincher or Aronofsky, two guys who have integrity and aren't bringing their history textbook to the screen.
- The Artist
- Well, I give up! They had to give it to this Singin' in the Rain rip off! Over a number of great films including The Descendents, Midnight in Paris, War Horse, and Hugo. Oh yeah, and the fucking TREE OF LIFE!
The Gender Divide
Despite the fact that Billy Jean King beat Jimmy Conners, AMPAS separates the performing awards by gender the way professional tennis does, as though there is some gender-based acting skill differential that would foster an award imbalance.
The reality is there is a greater distinction between a comedic and a dramatic performance than there is betweeen a male and female performance. For this reason, comedic roles never win these awards. I believe comedic actors and actresses should protest this.
I really don't remember anyone else that won this award. I think that's they way AMPAS likes it. By only remembering Mr. Hanks, the idea is that we will forget the great actors that have never won. But that ploy doesn't work on me. Some that never won (and some that weren't nominated either): Johnny Depp, Peter O'Toole, Edward Norton, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland, Albert Finney, and Kirk Douglas.
You tell me which of these two groups of six you would choose to star in your next highly anticipated time-transcending six-character ensemble drama.
Er... excuse me... "Best Performance By A Female in a Leading Role". This award they give to the lady who wears the nicest dress to the ceremony. And who will eventually shut the fuck up when receiving the award. Doesn't really matter who, I suppose. Just as long as it isn't Streep.
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
This award is entirely unimportant.
Cases in point:
- Whoopi Goldberg won this once.
- Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for playing an Australian playing a Black guy in the worst Ben Stiller stink-fest you can imagine. He changed the role to an Australian because he couldn't do an Irish accent. Do I need to say more?
- OK, so Heath Ledger's posthumous win was not so bad, but Jack Palance actually did the City Slickers performance while he was dead, and he still won. Plus, it's a Billy Crystal movie - no awards should ever be given to anything Billy Crystal is involved in. Right?
- Also, I remember Cuba Downing Jr. winning this for Jerry Maguire. Nothing against him but how the fuck did the announcer not say: And the oscar goes to... EDWARD FUCKING NORTON for Primal Fear!!!
- Marisa Tomei for - get this - My Cousin Vinny. The only memorable thing from that movie is "What is a Ute?" Tomei's performance was adequate. And she's pretty hot. But, this was a travesty. Ohhh, yes I know. I heard all about how Mr. Palance (still dead, despite the push-ups) couldn't see "Vanessa Redgrave" written in giant letters on the card and just said whatever name came to mind, probably the hottest one on the list, I know. Blah blah blah. No. No excuse. It was just bad. She is pretty hot though.
This award is unnecessary, as it always goes to the director of the Best Picture winner. Right? Well, I mean, at least logically, it ought to. Think about it. Directors are the authors of the films. This is a filmmaking truism. So if a movie is the year's best film, then it stands to reason that its director is the best director.
But, as it turns out, this doesn't always hold. The reason for this is that the award voters are too stupid to remember which director they voted for when they are voting for the best picture. This is the only reasonable explanation for this lunacy.
Speaking of lunacy, there are a few pretty good directors that haven't won this award. Oh, let's see, Akira Kurosawa. Oh, and Ingmar Bergman. Oh, yeah, also Sam Peckinpah, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Daron Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan and Norman Jewison. Not to mention Andrei Tarkovsky.
Wow, that's a lot of pretty good film makers. Wait, there's also Sidney Lumet, Spike Lee, Orson Welles, Terrence Malick, Robert Rodriguez, Alfred Hitchcock, Roger Corman, Wes Anderson, Gary Ross, Alan Parker, John Hughes, Paul Thomas Anderson, Gus Van Sant, Robert Altman, Federico Fellini, and Peter Weir.
Oh, yeah. And fucking Stanley Kubrick.
The list goes on: Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, David Mamet, Sam Raimi, Richard Linklater, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog... All these guys apparently are not quite as good as Ron Howard.
OK, tell me this award means jack shit. I dare you.
Then there's a bunch of weird film-y awards that no one, not even the voters themselves, has any clue how to win, other than be a pretty good movie that isn't going to win the best picture award. These are here simply so that the academy can say they recognized you somehow.
Despite the fact that no one watches this part of the award show, because no one knows what a good makeup job on screen really is, you will still see the movie posters in March: "The African Star, winner of two Academy Awards®". Then in tiny font at the bottom of the poster: "Best Camel Makeup" and "Best Art Direction Using Construction Paper, Cotton Balls and Available Light". Well, Academy Awards equal real dollars, so you can't blame them.
The Memorial Reel
My personal favorite part of the ceremony, and the only reason I tune in anymore, is the yearly memorial reel. Every year, the game begins anew. By the end of January each year, make a list of folks that you predict will be appearing on next year's memorial reel. Then, come next February's ceremony, watch for the reel. For each one you got right, you get points equal to the difference between their age at death and 100. Whoever has the most points when the reel ends is the winner!
Well kids, 2011 has started out interesting, with six tits we once loved - those of Jane Russell, Maria Schneider and Tura Satana - topping the list. Let's hope even more incredible black-and-white tits pass away so we can have more fun comparing what they looked like then and recently!
- NOTE: This rule was broken in 2006, in "one of the most shocking scandals ever to come from the Academy" according to the heads of the Academy. "We don't know how this criminal scheme was perpetrated," a press release announced, "but we're hard at work to ensure what is being dubbed the Departed Incident will never happen again."
- But really!, did he deserve it for Philadelphia over Liam Neeson in Schindler's List?
- I bet you knew that.
- Yes, he won Best Supporting Actor, but that doesn't matter.
- Oh and Nicolas Cage won an Oscar for playing himself in a documentary about him giving up cocaine and replacing it with alcohol
- Yes, movie nerd, I know Ms. Swinton won the supporting award. That's the point. She didn't get the real award. Get it now?
- Even today at like forty. Did you see Before the Devil Knows You're Dead? Holy crap.
- Mark Ruffalo (The Kinds are Alright) was nominated ahead of Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).