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Oscar Talk Episode 21: On the Campaign Trail

Oscar Talk Episode 21: On the Campaign Trail

Thompson on Hollywood

This week Kris Tapley and I cover Oscar activity at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and in town, and keep debating the best actress, actor, picture and director race. Does Up in the Air or Inglourious Basterds have a fighting chance?

Last week’s Oscar round-up:
MCN asked its Gurus ‘o Gold if their opinions had changed since the nominations.
Variety posted a rookie’s guide to Oscar-nommed actors, while The Wrap considered “The Floral Graveyard” of post-nomination excitement. And fearless James Cameron is eager to mix it up with Avatars right-wing critics.

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I really enjoy listening to your Oscar Talks as they offer a very interesting insight into the psychology of Academy members’ behaviour. What outsiders like me often forget is that after all they are just a bunch of 6000 or so human beings with their personal likes and pet hates, and that being an Academy member doesn’t automatically translate into becoming intellectually superior to an average movie goer.

But the part where you and Kris were talking about Oscar momentum really got me worried. Frankly I’ve never thought that Academy members may be that much prone to crude marketing strategies. If I understood you correctly, they very much behave like a flock of sheep, paying more attention to whether someone is “cute”or “socially awkward” in an interview rather than to what impact on the industry this given individual’s work had in the past year.

Take James Cameron for example.
– started technological revolution which resulted in 3 new types of cameras and a completely new performance capture system which is already adopted and adapted by other directors (eg. Tintin)
– started 3D renaissance (or rather started “new 3D” era)
– brought people back to cinema, which in fact is the new hope for the whole industry in the times of severe competition with home cinema systems and piracy
– maybe the most importantly, Avatar is the FIRST film in recent history which is officially “UNCOOL” to see as a bootleg version.

Before Avatar kids were bragging about how many times they saw such and such film on the net for free. If someone went to the cinema he/she was seen as a naive fool. Now see what happens with Avatar – among kids if you don’t see it on the biggest screen possible (and in 3D), you’re seen as clueless or skimpy, and generally you’re going to be sneered at by your mates.
Same with YouTube – in the past links to websites where you could watch films for free would get lots of thumb-ups. Now they are either ignored, thumb-downed or reported. The tide has changed.
In the era of piracy that is something the Academy must have noticed and they better respond to it. For their own good, and that of the industry.

Now you’re seriously telling me Academy members are going to pay more attention to the fact that Cameron was nailing mobile phones to the wall on some TV show than to what Avatars has achieved?

I know that Oscars are as much a popularity contest as “vanity fair snob event”, but if it’s really the case then someting is seriously wrong about the whole system ;-)

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