In 2017, my fiance and I actually went through the effort to see every film nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. We enjoyed it, and saw some great films in the process.
In 2018, we intended to, but didn’t get around to a few of the nominees, partially because someone in the house had a strong negative reaction to every piece of publicity material for Lady Bird. But we did get pretty close.
This year, I look at the nominees, and I think to myself, maybe this is a tradition that can die.
Is this really fair?
I have only watched the nominees with the word “black” in the title, both Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman, and both were pretty good. Maybe all of the other nominations are also pretty good. I don’t know, I’m basing all of my judgement on critical reaction and things like trailers.
But I’m not excited to watch any of this in the same way I was excited to watch nominees from the last couple of years.
The Favourite looks pretty interesting and Roma is Alfonso Cuaron being ambitious which guarantees something worth watching. So I’ll watch a couple of them at least. But otherwise it’s a list of films that make me shrug.
Nothing about Bohemian Rhapsody has me rushing to find a copy of it, musician biopics have this uncanny ability to smooth out all the rough edges and make an interesting person boring as they are crammed into a story arc. Vice feels like a bunch of stunt casting first and a movie second, in the same way that The Darkest Hour last year was a movie about Gary Oldman’s makeup. Green Book just looks smug, no matter how good the cast is. And, at the risk of sounding like an 80 year old, I’ve already watched A Star Is Born. It had Janet Gaynor in it.
But then I have to admit that all of those movies have to be at least a bit good. Certainly, people liked them, enough to nominate them for awards. I’m probably wrong about at least one of them, if not more. If I’m being sensible, maybe a list of movies I’m not excited about is an even better reason to dedicate myself to catching up on every Oscar nominee. It would force me to give a chance to movies I’d normally just ignore.
I would even argue that is the point of award season. It’s not to just give people golden statues as a reward for hard work, it’s to give people a reminder that there were good movies they may have missed, and remind them there’s an opportunity to watch them again.
While it’s not really sensible to trust the opinions of Oscar voters above all else, it is like getting a recommendation from anyone else, and as a result I can’t help but think I should give these films a chance. But when I look at that list, and then look at all the other movies available, I decide I would rather just watch something else.