Point/Counterpoint: Why do we still care about awards?



When this year’s Academy Award nominations were announced last Tuesday, it was hard not to feel excited. Greta Gerwig became the fifth woman to be nominated for best director, Jordan Peele became the fifth black person to be nominated for best director and Sufjan Stevens became the first Sufjan Stevens to be nominated for an Oscar. No matter how long, dreary and self-congratulatory the actual ceremony is liable to be, it’s difficult not to hope that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the year when everyone who deserves to win will actually win.

But there are a few complications. For one, a cursory glance at this year’s nominees — or any year’s for that matter — will show a lack of recognition of women who work behind the camera and of people of color in general. While Peele and Gerwig might be examples of strides for diversity in the industry, broadly speaking, women of color behind or in front of the camera are still largely ignored by the Academy.

More generally, the list of movies and performances I loved in 2017 that either weren’t nominated or that deserve to win but probably won’t, would probably take up an entire page. To include those that my friends enjoyed and also to take into account the many disputes they would have with my choices would be near impossible. To further include the people I follow on Twitter and their thoughts would probably result in an inconclusive “Call Me By Your Name” meme featuring Armie Hammer’s dancing and Timothée Chalamet rapping to Cardi B.

So, maybe it’s alright that the Academy’s choices don’t always mirror those of the general public. It’s stating the obvious to say that to narrow down a year of movies into a small handful of nominees and still please everyone is a fool’s errand. But it’s also a subjective judgment that often feels so tied to the stubborn opinions of a few that their glaring omissions are all the more obvious. The beautiful “Florida Project” and the disturbing “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” are two of the most referenced snubs, along with actor Michael Stuhlbarg, who was in three of the nine best picture nominees this year.

All of these highly subjective choices means that the ceremony isn’t usually all that fun to watch unless you have a dog in the race. Take it from someone who has watched a troubling amount of awards shows — and, yeah, the mindless E! red carpet specials preceding them — the Oscars rarely make for good television. Unlike their boozy, unpredictable cousin, the Golden Globes, the Oscars usually drone on for hours of uncharacteristically boring celebrity speech.

While last week my fellow A&E contributor Austin Davidson bemoaned the Globes for daring to regard comedies as equal to dramas, this lack of self-importance is what makes the Globes worth watching, even if your favorites don’t win. Davidson seems to think that the Globes are the ugly stepsister of the prestigious Oscars, but the Globes succeed where the Oscars never have. Where the Oscars strive for subjectivity masquerading as objectivity, the Globes have seemed to focus on entertainment value, something that should matter at entertainment awards shows.

Every award season leading up to the Oscars is a constant cycle of my love for the films I saw and my frustration with their lack of recognition by the Academy. Instead, this year, I will concede that it doesn’t matter that “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” will probably win best picture. I am firm in my belief that “Paddington 2” deserves it all, and no voting body has the power to convince me, or the world, otherwise.

Take a look at Austin Davidson’s response “Why we should like to thank the Academy”