27 February 2011

The Importance of Awards

The Academy Awards are tonight.

When the nominations were released, I asked a friend what she thought of this year's pick. At this point, I was wondering if she thought Inception was snubbed like quite a few fans of that movie (like me and one of my Production class TAs). She gave me a look and said, "I don't follow that. It's just a big popularity contest." There was so much venom in her voice that I was certain something award-related happened to her.

This got me thinking, not whether the Academy Awards is a big popularity contest, but whether she follows awards at all. You see, she doesn't base quality off what other people say. The entire world could think something is crap but she'll still think that something is amazing. Not like this would happen, of course -- she's an excellent judge of quality. But her excellence in judging doesn't mesh up with the political atmosphere of most awards such as the Academy Awards.

On another note, she is a really tough critic when it comes to movies and books. She loves the movie How to Train Your Dragon but I'm pretty sure she'd be bored out of her head when watching The King's Speech. Same girl won't understand the story intricacies of The Social Network as much as she understands them in Iron Man. She's not a drama person, and that's what separates her from the Academy Awards. In fact, she probably understands this to the extent that she pointedly avoids the Oscars because they're never her type of movie. This is the sort of avoidance genre writers make to University creative writing programs because they specialize in literary fiction as opposed to romance or fantasy.

But what's the importance of following award systems like this? What does it mean to you, the individual?

To my friend, the Academy Awards mean nothing; her field is science-related, not media-related like mine. To me, the Academy Awards mean an intense discussion in my production class on Monday, a slight overview on my American Film class on the same day, and perhaps some argument between fellow film major friends. In my future, the Academy Awards mean something I must follow if I wish to stay up to date with the present condition of the film industry. Are they favoring science fiction films this year? Or are they favoring their usual dramas? Perhaps a comedy got nominated for Best Picture. What does that mean to the industry? What does that mean to me?

Award ceremonies in general track trends in an industry. Winners of said awards are people to follow because they were good enough to gain a following to warrant a nomination. And it was the quality of their work that got them their award. Fashion Designers in Fashion Week are people to follow because of their involvement with the latest fashion trends. Hugo nominations are science fiction stories worth reading. Academy Award winners are worth watching because they really are high quality movies.

If you hear people complain about Inception in the Oscars this year, ask them if they've seen The King's Speech. I haven't seen it myself, but I hear it's really an amazing movie. As much as Nolan rocked Inception as a director, the movie itself was still simply good. Multiple viewings of it decrease the hype from the first viewing. Whatever Inception did, it still used standard science fiction conventions and codes. Whatever The King's Speech did, it made a bigger emotional impact. And that is why Inception wasn't really snubbed but lost in a sea of movies of the same caliber.

I have seen The Social Network, which is a well-made movie. When given the choice between Tron Legacy and The Social Network, I would choose Tron Legacy simply for entertainment. While this is the exact thing that separates me from the Academy Awards, entertainment is the reason I see movies. Sure, I would want to make movies that are entertaining and don't garner awards, but awards still track a certain quality of films. I acknowledge that award systems are run by an elite group of bureaucrats. I also acknowledge that attaching your name to an award nomination tells the world that you did something to catch the eye of the Elite --- and the Elite aren't followed for nothing.

As a film major possibly continuing that path to Hollywood, I must watch the Academy Awards if I want to keep up with my peers. I should know what will warrant a nomination, what will get me rejected, and what the Academy believes is good quality. Aversely, as a science fiction writer, I follow the Nebula and Hugo awards for the exact same reasons. Receiving either award would bring me from my lowly amateurish status to someone who's worth keeping an eye on. It's a gateway to the Elite, also called the Big Shots, the Head Honchos. Don't you want to be involved with that?

**There is clearly an argument to this. Feel free to challenge me or voice your own opinion. Please be respectful. Disrespectful posts will be ignored; disrespectful comments will be deleted..**


  1. I haven't seen Inception. It seems like my kind of movie, but I don't go out to the theater much anymore. I did see The King's Speech, though (was kind of dragged there). I like Nolan's work generally. The King's Speech was a very traditional movie, but that doesn't mean it wasn't emotionally satisfying.

    I watch the Academy Awards because I like the race aspect of it. I'll be watching tonight.

  2. I haven't seen the King's Speech yet, but I'm really pleased for all those who were involved in the making of it.


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