Paul Schrader Says He Hasn’t Watched the Oscars in ’10 or 15 Years’ — and He Skips Most Categories When He Votes

Schrader earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for 2018's "First Reformed."
Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader
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Paul Schrader has made a career out of bluntly speaking his mind and gleefully disregarding public opinion, so it’s not surprising that he doesn’t particularly care about the Oscars.

In a new conversation with Oscar Isaac published in Interview Magazine, the “Master Gardener” director explained that he advises his collaborators to avoid viewing award shows as a measure of success — even if he admits that it’s fun to win.

“It’s hard not to feel good when people say nice things, even when you think they’re wrong,” Schrader said. “On the other hand, I remember saying to Scorsese years ago—because Marty had a very strong desire to win an Oscar, and should have won an Oscar for some of his films, but didn’t, and he was chafing—so I said to him, ‘Marty, if your priority is to win an Oscar, you’re going to need a new set of priorities.’ And fortunately he did win his, but all you have to do is look back through the litany of films that have won to realize that it’s not company you really want to be in.”

Schrader recently scored his first career Oscar nomination when “First Reformed” was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 2019. Even so, the “Taxi Driver” writer said he has become increasingly disinterested in the ceremony.

“I haven’t watched it in 10 or 15 years,” he said. “I still voted, although this time I think I abstained in 80 percent of the votes.”

He explained that he only votes in a category if one of the nominees sticks out to him, and doesn’t feel the need to participate despite the ceremony’s importance to the film industry.

“If I looked at five names, and said, ‘I’m not really crazy about any of these,’ abstain, abstain, abstain. Because it is so much a part of the economic, raw material of our business,” he said. “The Academy got itself in a terrible mess by building that huge museum and giving themselves a mountain of debt, so now they have to keep figuring out how to get more and more people to watch the Academy Awards in more and more countries, so they can make more and more money, when in fact, it began years ago as a local thing.”

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