Does Oscar gossip distract from genuine interest in films?

As award ceremonies go, the Oscars are by far the most prestigious. The first Academy Award ceremony was held in 1929, and it would be difficult to find anyone who doesn’t know what the Oscars are, or when they are being held due to the extensive media coverage that the ceremony is surrounded by.

With the next Academy Award ceremony being held in February 2012, this could be seen as the start of the controversial ‘Oscar Season’, where many of the major Hollywood studios begin releasing and self-promoting their films over the Christmas period and into the New Year in order to gain more publicity. This could possibly have been the case with the release of The King’s Speech in January 2011, or indeed with the release of The Iron Lady, Meryl Streeps already famous portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, in early January 2012. Looking at the comments below the official The Iron Lady trailer on YouTube, released several weeks ago, it contains many comments such as ‘And the Oscar goes too…’ and ‘Streep for best actress at the Oscars!’ Although the film has gained mostly positive reviews from the critics, it is yet to be released to the public.

The Oscar buzz regarding the release of films is an interesting concept, and is not itself without any controversies. Only last week did an article appear on the BBC website entitled ‘Oscar contenders appear on the horizon’, speculating on the possible contenders for the 2012 Oscars. Meryl Streep is mentioned in the article as being a contender for Best Actress, with Bookmaker William Hill making her the 5/4 favourite to win this award already, before the list of nominees has even been announced. It is hard to imagine an independent film with much less publicity, such as the excellent We Need to Talk about Kevin being able to compete, although the BBC article also mentions Tilda Swinton as a possible contender for the Best Actress Oscar for her role in this film. Tilda Swinton has already won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 2008 ceremony for her role in Michael Clayton, with the main focus of talk regarding her win appearing to be that she accepted her award without wearing any make-up, something that has no connection whatsoever to her ability as an actress. Indeed, it sometimes may seem that critics are more interested in who is wearing what designer outfit on the red carpet as opposed to who is nominated and who has won the Oscar in their category.

Looking at the Oscars as a whole, comedy is a genre that is seemingly missed out from the award ceremony. Jerry Lewis, the world’s top box office earner from 1950 to 1956, and the original Nutty Professor, only received on Oscar in 2009 for his charity work. Jack Black, John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell performed a parody musical number at the 2007 Oscars about how comedy is often excluded from Oscar nominations. But does winning an Oscar or being nominated actually matter?

Indeed, it is possible to become well known for refusing an Oscar. George C. Scott famously was the first actor to refuse an Oscar for the Best Actor category at the 1971 Oscars for his portrayal of George S. Patton, an infamous American General in the Second World War, for the film Patton. Scott had asked to be withdrawn from the nominees list for Best Actor, stating; ‘I respectfully request that you withdraw my name from the list of nominees…I mean no offense to the Academy. I simply do not wish to be involved.’ However, he wasn’t removed from the list, and Scott went on to win the Oscar whilst not being in attendance at the ceremony, with the film’s producer accepting the award on his behalf. On receiving the Oscar, Scott sent it back stating, more explicitly on this occasion; ‘The whole thing is a goddam meat parade. I don’t want any part of it.’ In many of Scott’s obituaries following his death in 1999, he was very often referred to throughout as ‘The man who refused an Oscar’.

Whether or not you are an avid viewer of the Academy Awards, or you really couldn’t care less who is even nominated, it cannot be denied that the ceremony provides a platform in which many legendary actors and rising stars can join together to celebrate their industry as a whole, and whether or not we enjoy it, it is almost impossible to avoid all of the media hype that has already begun surrounding the Oscars, and which will continue until February next year.

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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