Surprised by the Oscars? Academy Awards highs and lows

Was it just me, or was anyone else that was surprised at the lack of statues taken away by Team Avatar. Avatar won only three Oscars: for visual effects (was there any doubt), and cinematography, as well as art direction. But somehow I expected more, and apparently, by all the buzz, so did a lot of other people.

Somespeculatedthat the Academy wanted to “show” Cameron that his highest-grossingmovieof all times can be taken down by the least-expensive movie to ever be nominated – wrong.

Some speculated that the Academy wanted to finally give the “Best Directing” award to a woman – please – do we have toplaythe gender card?

In my opinion, there are twostrongreasons why Avatar didn’t win more awards: Animated characters and Sci-fi.

Avatar won Best Picture and Best Director from the Golden Globes, which is more of a popular vote than the Academy Awards. But the Academy does not vote on popularity.

The Academy Awards is mostly judged by actors, and perhaps they feel a bit nervous at animated figures taking their face time, after all, animation is big now, and many actors are acting in front of a green screen. But, how many of us have had to entertain while surrounded by nothing to react to except sick lime green? Acting is an art, and acting without a partner or visual aids is difficult. I saw some BTS (behind the scenes) footage of Zoe Sladana, playing Neytiri and she acted her butt off getting all the right action and reactions while strapped to a dozen cameras that recorded her every facial muscle. That’s atoughtask to pull off.

The movie Up was also “up” for several awards and won for best original score, which was lovely and moving and memorable, but the rest of the movie, as charming as it was, was still a “cartoon” to many people. hum. So it sure wasn’t going to win, even though it had many nominations.

As for the movie genre: Sci-fi and Horror are the most popular genres that get the least respect next to “serious” movies. Heck, even comedies fail to win awards as often as dramas. Anyone know when the last time a Sci-fi or Horror film won BestPicture? Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King won in 2003 and although some might not call it Sci-fi, rather closer to Fantasy, there’s not been much closer since then. The Exorcist, (1973) was also nominated for a lot of awards and won for sound (duh!) and BestWritingBased on Another Medium, (what we call Best Adaptation now.)

The Oscars from the Academy Awards aren’t given out to movies that are popular, rather to movies that “move” the judges. The Hurt Locker was an incredibly moving movie, I’m told – itdidn’tplay in our small berg, The Hurt Locker was too small to come to our 1-theater town, (yes, you read that correct: 1 theater, 10 screens.) So, Ihaveto rent it now, toassuagemy curiosity.

I’ve been lucky to attend the Academy Awards 4 times in different capacities, and the one true constant is you can’t depend on anything. Two moments stuck out in my mind at this year’s show, and neither had anything to do with Big Names. Did anyone catch the moment when Roger Ross Williams, all excited and graciously accepting his award for Music by Prudence, theDocumentaryshort, had the mic literallystolenfrom him by a woman in a purple dress? (Elinor Burkett?) Wow! What tension! I wasembarrassedfor both of them – this is live TV, folks!

The other moment I enjoyed was during Argentine director Juan Jos Campanella’sacceptance speech for Best Foreign Language Film for The Secret in Their Eyes. Hejoked that he wanted to thank the Academy for not considering Na’vi as a foreign language. No one laughed.. maybe they didn’t catch it, but this was the only laugh-out-loud moment in the show for me. But I was alone.

I can’t wait until next year…

Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.

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