I used to love watching the Oscars, Golden Globes, what have you. It was exciting to me to see what movies and performances I had loved over the past year get recognized. When we lived in an apartment and then a very small house, poor Ryan would have to suffer through (albeit rarely silently) as I would insist on staying up until the bitter end of the show, just to find out what won best picture - a piece of trivia I would be sure to forget within six months.
There were always a few movies to pop up in November or December that could be labeled 'awards bait'. Miramax may have been the first to embrace this tactic, and it has become increasingly popular among movie studios. You release your movie at the end of the year, at times on December 31 in one or two theaters in Los Angeles, meeting the bare minimum requirement for eligibility. This way it won't have been out long enough to merit backlash and will be fresh on voters' minds. I understand this strategy - bravo, movie studios, you're very smart.
But now they've taken the fun out of the Oscars.
I'm not saying that the films getting nominations aren't good movies. What I am saying is that I miss seeing movies I myself have discovered throughout the year getting recognized. Instead, we roll into December and critics suddenly announce: "These are the movies you're going to LOVE this year because they are Academy worthy!"
Perhaps an example will help. These were the nominees for best picture from 1995:
Sense and Sensibility
Every one of these movies was released prior to September, save Sense and Sensibility. I remember my glee upon finding out that Babe, which is one of my all time favorites, had garnered recognition.
This year, while Oscar nominees have yet to be announced, these are the Golden Globe nominees for Best Drama:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Aside from Slumdog Millionaire, which I think went to wide release early December, the earliest release for the rest of these was December 25. How can I get behind movies I've not yet seen?
It's like not having seen a single NFL game all year and then giving a damn about the outcome of the Super Bowl. You can still throw your party, eat your pigs in a blanket, and criticize the increasingly stupid million dollar commercials, but do you really care who wins?
What is the solution? To start with, Academy voters, don't cave to the pandering. I would love to see The Dark Knight or WALL-E get a best picture nomination because they were genuinely great movies and my two favorites of the year. I would like to see movies like Milk and Slumdog Millionaire (the only two movies I have managed to see in the past month) moved to earlier in the year so that when they are nominated for awards I can say "Yes! Yes, those were good movies!".
And in case anyone is listening, I would also like a category for best credits sequence