The mother of all awards shows demonstrated again that it doesn’t matter what the public thinks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences picks their own winners based on their own criterion, which does not include ticket sales. The public voted at the box office for Avatar as the best picture, but while the film did garner 9 nominations, it only won three awards—none of which was best picture. Many popular movies did win awards, but many of the awards went to obscure movies or performances. Such is always the case at the Oscars.
The American movie-goer often thinks that he or she is the driving force behind Hollywood. That the definition of “good” rests in ticket sales. Critics think that the definition of “good” rests in positive reviews. The real definition of good is made by the person evaluating any given movie and—here’s the sticky part—that definition only matters to the person make the evaluation. So no matter how many tickets any given film sells, no matter how many reviews or what the review says, a film is only as good as the viewer watching it thinks it is.
Since the voting body of AMPAS is made up of members of AMPAS, they get to define good as far as Oscar goes, and we have to deal with it. Our award show is the “People’s Choice” awards and while a lot of the winners of that one go one to win Oscars, that is not always the case.
So what If Avatar missed the mark for best picture? It made a gazillion dollars. It has the highest revenue of any movie in history. Note, I said revenue—not ticket sales. The most tickets sold for a movie still rests with Star Wars. James Cameron has made the two most expensive movies ever made. They are also the top selling movies ever made. Isn’t that accolade enough? If he wants an Oscar, he needs to do what Spielberg did: stop making money-makers and make an art film.
I am pumped about “Up” getting best animated film, though. I said as soon as I saw that movie that it was the best CGI story I have seen. Wall*E is the best looking one, but Up has a better story. The other cartoons pale by comparison. Of course, with the trend set by Avatar, it could almost classify as a cartoon. Maybe if it did classify itself that way, it would have won that award. You never know.
The real reason that AMPAS awards do not always match public opinion is that the voting members of AMPAS are actors and directors. Hollywood types. Those people don’t think the same way the general public does. Their value system is just a tad off kilter. Not all of them mind you—but a lot—most, even. So don’t go expecting to make sense of the awards. Just watch them for what they are worth: three hours of your life enduring acceptance speeches and tributes and at least a half a day debating the results in the break room at work.