If you’ve been on the site in the last month, you’ve probably noticed something’s missing. This year, I failed at the Oscars. I failed at the Oscars because I didn’t watch them. I didn’t even write about them, something I’ve done extensively for the last four ceremonies on Movie Muse. This year, however, I did nothing. The Oscars were the red carpet/stairs and I was Jennifer Lawrence, only no one saw me fall.
Even that bad joke is really a 2013 Oscars recap joke, that’s how bad it is, and as much as I want to shake my blunder off like it’s nothing, I just can’t seem to let it go.
Ok, that was a 2014 Oscars joke. (I said I didn’t watch them – I didn’t say I had no idea what was going on.) But even though I knew who and what films were nominated and could swear to you that almost 100 percent of my mental Oscar predictions came true (saw the “Gravity” sweep with a loss in Best Picture to “12 Years a Slave,” my pick for best film of the year, coming for miles), I felt out of touch, like someone should try revoking my cinephile license.
I was in Houston Sunday night, staying with some wonderful friends who moved there from Chicago a couple summers ago. I intended to be home for the Oscars, but flights are cheaper on Monday mornings. Although my friends don’t have TV, our plan was to stream the ceremony, which ABC offered for the first time this year, but when the time came, it wasn’t working. We tried again and again, but eventually we gave up. So we spent more quality time together instead, which I treasured, but the movie nerd part of me was crushed; I essentially ignored his annual birthday party.
I also acted like I didn’t so much as care his birthday was coming up. Normally, I start prep for the Oscars in early December by following the awards season buzz like a hawk, studying up to make Oscar nomination predictions. After the nominees are announced in January, I spend the weeks leading up to the ceremony analyzing every single category (even best documentary, short subject, despite not seeing any of the nominees) on my blog and predicting the winners. By Oscar Sunday, the suspense boils over, and I am glued to the screen. After analyzing the show the next day, I normally sigh in relief that it’s all over and do the whole thing again nine months later.
And I did it all for fun. I did it for free. I did it because I loved it. Just as I did with everything else on my blog, and another website (or two) that I wrote and edited content for over the course of three years.
Then, last March, I got a full-time job, a job that has nothing to do with movies (though occasionally I can blog about them). (In a cruel poetic twist of course, I received the call with the job offer while at the movie theater — seeing “Oz the Great and Powerful” if you must know.)
It all went downhill from there for the movie nerd part of me. I struggled to see movies in theaters or at home, especially in a timely fashion, and some reviews took weeks to complete. I wrote no feature stories or fun movie content to supplement the reviews I did write. My movie mojo had disappeared.
Everyone has their Super Bowl. Everyone has something that not’s a value or a priority but a pure love: a sport, a hobby, an event, a holiday or even a second professional passion, which every so often comes to a boiling point. It’s a time when the world stops and we must stop anything from tampering with our little love affair; we want to completely lose ourselves to it. For some people, that’s the Oscars. For me, it’s the Oscars, the actual Super Bowl, my fantasy football draft, and a few other things. At times, however, for one reason or another, our lives interfere with and impede our Super Bowls, and that disappointment stings a little.
The real challenge, however, isn’t dealing with the pain of a missed Super Bowl. It’s not about forcing yourself to understand that this passion isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things and that you should get over it. Rather, it’s being able to recognize that where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with, is totally worth missing a Super Bowl for.
Now, for some actual Oscars reflections.
This Oscars was utterly predictable, but that’s not a bad thing (if you’re me and like the winners the Academy chose). “Gravity” sweeping up technical awards include Best Director is no shock. Its many award wins prior to the Oscars indicated the industry saw this as the biggest achievement in filmmaking since “Avatar” and to even the untrained eye, no film rivaled it from a technical filmmaking perspective to have a chance at trumping any of its seven wins. However, the Academy values good storytelling too much to select “Gravity” as Best Picture.
“12 Years A Slave” was easily the year’s best film, and it had the epic qualities of many previous Best Picture winners from back in the day to make it the likely candidate to step up when voters decided not to award “Gravity” the night’s big prize. Its win in the Best Adapted Screenplay category assured it would win even though its director did not, now the second straight year the Best Director winner didn’t make the Best Picture winner.
Interestingly, so many films walked away with nothing this year, even though the field of nominees was so much stronger than in past years. “American Hustle” getting shut out shocked many, but not this guy. It was a very good film, but in no category did it deserve a win. It wasn’t even in my top 10 for the year. There was a lot of outrage over Amy Adams losing again, but Cate Blanchett had a lot more to work with, and her role was total Academy fodder. Similarly, it was just Matthew McConaughey’s year, and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t have a chance. Was it his best performance yet? I think so, but McConaughey’s comeback story made voters rally behind his best of all the roles in “Dallas Buyers Club.” A guy who undergoes a transformation is always more likely to win an Oscar than a guy who does what we all know him to be capable of doing. Personally, Chiwetel Ejiofor gave the best actor performance of this year, but I like that the McConaissance was recognized.
Lastly, to add great, under-appreciated talent to the list of Oscar winners is a rare sight. Alfonso Cuarón is an outstanding talent. He made a great Harry Potter film and “Children of Men” is vastly underrated unless you’re a film nerd like me. Spike Jonze getting recognition for the unbelievably creative “Her” was also a great victory for cinephiles. So rarely does the Academy award the not-so-prestigious names, but that’s what happened this year. Just don’t go expecting it to happen again anytime soon.