We’re at that point in the Oscar process, where the backlash is full swing against frontunner “La La Land” (see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s op-ed in THR about the film’s “bigoted message”), we’re a bit tired of the entire process, and we kind of just wish everything was over already. But there’s still a week and change to go until the ceremony, and then another day or two of outrage (or not) depending on who wins (or doesn’t). As we learned from this weekend’s Grammy Awards, nearly every show of this type is flawed, no approach is perfect, and that giving trophies to honor the “best” in art, is an entirely subjective affair. However, when it comes to the Oscars, it’s almost tailor made to ensure that the most popular movie wins, not necessarily the best.

Vox has a fascinating video essay which breaks down the new rules when it comes how Academy votes are counted, and basically it goes like this: since 2009, the Academy has used instant run-off voting, which means that those movies that get the broadest support beat out films that might have more first place votes. In essence, the most popular film will come out on top, however, it might be at the expense of more artistic or daring work.

Again, there is no solution to voting that will make everyone happy, but if you’re wondering why “La La Land” wins everything in just over a week from now, you’ll know why.

  • Knight Rider

    Mediocrity is a big word! I didn’t see Batman v Superman or Angry Birds nominated for best picture.

    • John W

      The real problem is having award shows for artistic endeavors in the first place. You may as well have an award show for the best color of the rainbow.

  • Sleuth1989

    They gave David O. Russell the distinguished accomplishment of TWO “Big 8” nominations for a bad romantic dramedy and a Martin Scorcese rip-off…am I suppose to be shocked? And keep in mind his comeback film was a throwaway carbon copy of “Rocky” (I could actually show how Christian Bale and Amy Adams were essentially new age versions of Paulie and Adrian). But here’s something interesting. I heard about how “La La Land” (No I haven’t seen it, but bare with me here) got the same flack that “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” about having a weak narrative…and yet all three films got nominated for Best Screenplay. So why is that? I’m not going to point fingers and I get this whole process is an oxymoron of voting categorically over subjective material, but I feel that one issue is simple…Hollywood is detached.

    Not saying these films don’t have merit but we can’t act like critics are grand experts in film narrative anymore or the voting process doesn’t have certain people “nudging” voters to go a certain way more on who they know. Harvey Weinstein actually is infamous for this and he funded Russell’s comeback films (Note “Joy” was funded by Fox, not Weinstein Company and it was creamed critically. Surprised they gave Lawrence a nomination but then again she has friends established there now). I’m really trying not to be selective but those examples stick out for me. Because, really, back in say the 1970’s (Considered the big revolutionary decade of film), films were basically just being made by a bunch of new guys who were coming off the street and telling their stories (Most of Scorcese’s films are about New York, where he grew up). Mario Puzo I think knew people in the mafia hence why “Godfather” was so praised. Steven Spielberg was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock but he also was flat broke and used his life experiences (He tends to do a lot of stories that relate to him being abandoned by his father) to power his work. I see these new guys and there is amazing technique but not many of them have that grounded edge and, in turn, the Academy doesn’t anymore because, based on new age thinking, that’s the best you can possibly do. Not saying it’s completely gone but the Academy has more of an identity to what it sees itself as now and that affects what they pick. Hence the expression “Oscar-bait”. That’s just my thoughts anyway.