Bart’s ‘non-Oscar’ list

Posted by · 2:31 am · June 9th, 2008

Variety’s Peter Bart is spinning his Oscar wheels at his new blog. The post is a efw days old at this point, but his “non-Oscar list” is a cute little aside worth a look. He chalks actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Sarah Jessica Parker up as being on the list by sheer fact that they’re in bona fide hits (to say nothing of bias against the former and quality of the latter, of course).  But the move toward the unpopular is the point he’s driving at, and a look at the Oscar telecast’s ratings the last few years tells that tale clear enough.

Here’s a glimpse at his logic:

A generation ago, Oscar voters were tolerant of success — witness such best picture winners as “The Godfather,” “The Sting,” and, god forbid, “The Sound of Music.” However, a curious bipolar behavior has set in lately. Members of the Academy serve dutifully as professionals in the industry throughout the year, going about their tasks of producing, acting, editing, composing, etc. Then Oscar time sets in and they all think they’re members of a festival jury. “Art” is in and “commerce” is out.

Lately, several important studio executives have met with the Academy to review these trends and also propose possible changes in the Oscar show. They advocated a tighter show, fewer awards and a greater stress on entertainment value.

They hit a stone wall. The bipolar Academy is sticking to its ways.

Read the rest here.

→ 3 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

3 responses so far

  • 1 6-09-2008 at 3:55 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    All due respect to Bart, but his argument is tired and flawed. After all, just last year, the gave their top award to “The Departed.” It wasn’t exactly arty, but it was a brilliantly executed crowdpleaser that made a bucketload and duly (and in my opinion, deservedly) picked up Best Picture. Nothing elitist about that.

    There’s ultimately very little pattern in Oscar voting – it’s entirely susceptible to the sentiment or mood of any given year.

    And the Sarah Jessica Parker comment is nothing more than wilful devil’s advocacy.

  • 2 6-09-2008 at 4:45 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “And the Sarah Jessica Parker comment is nothing more than wilful devil’s advocacy.”

    On my part or his?

    As for “The Departed,” it’s win is an anomaly and representative of the collective assessment of a filmmaker’s due. It came, afterall, in a year that saw four other rather indy efforts nominated, three of them from dependent branches and one of them a foreign language effort that audiences didn’t exactly flock to.

  • 3 6-09-2008 at 5:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I meant on his part, Kris.

    I agree with you about “The Departed,” but that’s kind of what I mean. Popular anomalies like that happen quite often for various reasons -career achievement, vote-splitting, rare public and critical unison – resulting in wins for films like “The Return of the King,” “Gladiator,” “The Silence of the Lambs” etc. I just think it’s hard to pin down trends in Academy voting. I don’t think the fact that they picked a more “difficult” film this year means as much as Bart thinks it does.