Monday, February 25, 2013

The Silly Game of the Academy Awards

I have never been a member of the Film Academy, but years ago I was a member of the TV Academy.  I quit when I saw how voting was done.  During those years I was a writer and producer on the TV series, The Equalizer.  I think for three years in a row Edward Woodward, the star of our series and a wonderful actor, was nominated for best actor in a dramatic series by the TV Academy. Each year he was beaten by Bruce Willis for his work on Moonlighting.  Now Bruce Willis is a fine actor, but to win the dramatic acting category for his work on a comedy was ludicrous.

It was because of this that I came to some conclusions about the entire awards game in Hollywood.  Why didn't Woodward win?  His dramatic work was outstanding.  Very likely two reasons:  First, he wasn't part of the Hollywood club.  Second (and more importantly), during all the years we were in production, our series was constantly denigrated within the Hollywood community as just a "vigilante show."  I remember when I was first asked to join the staff, a woman writer friend of mine at Universal said, "You're not going to do it, are you?  How could you be part of a show like that?"  I found a way. When a production is not considered politically correct, forget awards.  (Do we hear Zero Dark Thirty?)

In recent years, The Equalizer has garnered much more respect even within Hollywood.  Too bad Woodward didn't get the respect he deserved when the awards were being given out.

The Film Academy Awards are just as much a snide little political game as the Emmys.  Argo was a fine film, I enjoyed it.  But really, did it come close to Lincoln or Life of Pi?  Certainly not. It wasn't as good as Zero Dark Thirty.  So why did it win?  Old Hollywood loves to stroke itself and Argo played straight into the decrepit fantasy of Hollywood heroism.  I have said in the past that Hollywood is just like junior high school in hell.  Remember all the immaturity, the politics, the cliques, the lock-step regimentation, the insecurity of junior high?  Now add billions of dollars into the mix.  Welcome to Hollywood.

What is amazing to me is that anyone takes these awards extravaganzas seriously. People make lists and project potential winners.  How many thought Argo would win best picture?  Only the people who know Hollywood. Of course, always there has to be some semblance that these contests are real and that the Academy voters care about quality over snide political games.  If Daniel Day Lewis hadn't won for his work in Lincoln the jig would be up. The fact that Ben Affleck didn't win best director for Argo spoke volumes.  How do you win best picture and not win best director?  Does that make any sense?

Welcome to junior high school in hell.

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