Without looking it up, name for me three Oscar winners from last year. If you were able to do so, you win. If not, welcome to the club. Despite having a minor degree in film studies, I couldn’t, without turning to Google, remember any Oscar winners from last year aside from Daniel Day Lewis’s win for Lincoln.
Generally I would blame this on what is admittedly my own terrible memory. But, my co-worker and fellow avid film fan, Isaiah, had the same blank expression when I asked him about last year’s Oscars. And so began a conversation about what the Academy Awards are in practice. We concluded that, as far as we are concerned, the Academy Awards serve primarily as an elaborate promotional tool, designed to tell us what movies we should be renting once they hit Redbox or Netflix.
Certainly there are those who have seen all the Oscar nominated movies already. Some of you perhaps saw all the nominated movies once the Best Picture list was announced. As of the morning I am writing this, I have only seen one of the nine films nominated for Best Picture (Gravity). And while it is my goal to see at least two or three of them this weekend (preferably at the discounted theater), this does cause me to pause and consider the effect the Oscars have on me.
This mission to watch a few of the other nominations (namely Her, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and/or Captain Phillips) is basically driven by my desire to feel as though I am informed enough to cheer for the rightful winner. I’m unsure whether I’m actually buying into the shameless promotion or attempting to meet self-imposed expectations as a film student, but either way the pull is strong enough to lead me to action. And I suspect I’m not alone in this. I also wonder, were the majority of these movies not nominated, would I have any desire see them?
Have you seen any of this year’s Oscar nominated films? If so, do you have a favorite to win? Do you usually wait until these Best-Picture-style movies hit the shelf, or do you go see them in the theater if at all possible? Does an Oscar nomination have any bearing whatsoever on your decision to watch a movie?
If you haven’t seen any or all of the Oscar nominated films, moviefone.com has a helpful roll-through of the Best Picture nominations; and WNYC released a list of the Oscar nominated movies you can watch at home with links included. You can watch the 86th Annual Academy Awards along with myself and likely many others this Sunday on ABC 7 p.m. EST.