A View From Behind The Meter
It is the middle of January and I’m in the process of trying to get to see all the movies that are up for awards. I’m not sure exactly why I’m operating in this manner but I have done it for about twenty years so I suppose it’s just from habit. I’ve seen Gravity, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Nebraska and should go through Her, Twelve Years A Slave and Wolf of Wall Street by the end of this week. Almost every year I go through this ritual and on the “big night” I can weigh my choices with the Academy with a more educated eye. Most of the time I’m pretty accurate, as far as my guesses go, but there are always surprises and in rare cases a complete shocker. The Hurt Locker for best picture was one of the shockers. It was up against Avatar and I was sure that the academy would award the big Hollywood epic the prize but much to my surprise I was wrong.
In 1979 I was also wrong, in that Kramer Verses Kramer won over both Apocalypse Now and All That Jazz , of which in my estimation both were better films. In the long run the films that become icons don’t always receive the acclaim they deserve at the time they were released and that seems fitting. After all art, real art has to have longevity, it needs to withstand the test of time and many films fade rather quickly into obscurity within a generation. The Apartment and Around The World in 80 Days come to mind since when I went back to view them ten years after they won the best picture I couldn’t for the life of me understand why they did in the first place. The 80 Days epic was up against Giant and The King and I and here again I think each one is, in my estimation, a much more formidable as well as long lasting film. I have watched Giant at least a half a dozen times and it still holds me. On the other hand I can’t make it through “Around the World” without extreme boredom and disinterest. Why Hollywood Academy members made that choice at that time still resonates with me as complete rubbish.
One of the pet peeves that I have, of late, with the new format, is the number of films up for best picture. It would seem much more logical to have separate categories rather than more possibilities. I think ten pictures is way too many and type of picture is all over the board. Comedy and drama are almost impossible to measure up against each other so why not have a drama category and a comedy category rather than lump them in together. In 2009 Up was competing with Avatar and the Hurt Locker: an absurd competition. Up was a wonderful heart rendering animation effort that couldn’t stand a chance against the other two but there they were side by side in the overall best picture competition. In 2010, Toy Story 3 went against The King’s Speech which; again is a silly comparison. Animation Drama and Comedy are really very different forms of entertainment and shouldn’t be lumped into the same category. It is really not a fair competition, but that’s just my viewpoint.
Some of the great films which didn’t receive the best motion picture in my estimation are:
(1.) Treasure Of Sierra Madre
(2.) Sunset Boulevard
(3.) The Graduate
(6.) Cat On a Hot Tin Roof
(7.) High Noon
All of these films are still exciting to view today and as far as I’m concerned should be in the Best Motion Picture category as the best of that year. Instead we have Hamlet, All About Eve, Gigi, and The Greatest Show On Earth, and having seen them all, I can’t believe they won. None of these films hold up today and all the others on the list will hold there own for many years to come. Go to the movies, and see the films and then judge for yourselves because your opinion is all that really matters.
Lighting Consultant and Educational Outreach
BIRNS AND SAWYER