As so the season has come to an end. I'm always filed with a bit of sadness when it's all over, no matter what the results, the Academy Awards are always on my mind. It's to great dismay to learn that this years telecast was the lowest rated show since 1974. A year in which my favorite film of the year won the big award (that hasn't happened since 2000 with American Beauty.) Was the films that didn't draw in the audience. Dark gloom-ridden masterpieces like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood did quite well at the box office for off-the-cuff auteurial brain films. Respectively both are all time top grossers for the Coen Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson at about $60 million and $35 million. Atonement, while no Shakespeare in Love or English Patient grossed nearly $50 million, not bad for a period piece, in the same vicinity of Michael Clayton. Juno was the only gangbuster at the box office, at $130 million.
But really, why the lack of interest in this years telecast, which I felt was largely superior than past shows, not just because my favorite films were among the honored, but also for Jon Stewart, a witty racantor-- remember they with the writer strike they only had like a week and half to writer the show, not the usual two or three months. The musical performances were done quite well also, with Amy Adams cute and cuddily and the team from Once ruling the world. Sure the show had silly tributes, but they all do-- it's one of those things Oscar fetishists laugh and argue about, but the trivialities of them are apart of why the show is special.
But what was so unappealing about this year-- was it the movies, and the more attention on brain than Hollywood might-- would you really want a best picture line-up consisting of 2007's top grossers-- Spider-man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Shrek the Third. Attention has been focused on the lack of big Hollywood films in the line-up, but none of the films selected were really out and out indies either. Atonement came from Focus Features (the specialty division of Universal), Juno from Fox Searchlight (still Fox), No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood hybrids from Paramount Vantage and Miramax (Paramount and Disney), and Michael Clayton from Warner Bros.
That's been the trend in recent years-- the speciality divisions have been making the Oscar bait movies, while the bigger divisions are making the movies, but on the flip side whenever the big side of the companies do make an Oscar bid, they don't really go for it-- case in point-- last year Paramount Pictures released Zodiac, David Fincher's intelligent, engrossing thesis into the Zodiac killings. The film came out in March to rave reviews and flaccid box office and then was mostly forgotten by years end-- by the distributers, critics and Academy.
It may not be popular, but I rejoice the Academy for (mostly) making the right decisions this year-- none of the films that won weren't deserving-- debates will rage forever if some were more worthy (I have some things to say), but I digress I embrace the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for making happily and intelligently unpopular choices.