So, full confession, here: I'd seen only two of all the nominated films, Hugo and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. However, it felt like I'd seen much more due to the media exposure of most of the movies, especially those nominated for best picture, and the actors in the acting categories. I'd hoped for some fun upsets to the media consensus about who would win. My personal favorites? Gary Oldman, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow (finally), but none for best director or picture. I guess the campaigns for my picks weren't strong enough to sway the Academy's voters.
Nostalgia reigned last night and no big surprises which made for a somewhat bland show. What would it be like if there were no campaigns for movies? What would it be like if the media had nothing to speculate on or promote with coverage? What if there were no foregone conclusions? Before the advent of campaigning Academy members for votes, no one had a clue who'd win. There were no frontrunners, no friendly rivalries (Pitt and Clooney), no endless speculation about why one film or performance or screenplay or director was more deserving over another. Then the awards show was nothing but surprises. Wouldn't that be fun? What we have now is sort of like watching a trailer for a movie -- nowadays, trailers include all the major plot points so viewers know exactly what they'll see if they choose to go see the movie. But sometimes why bother when you know already what happens?
I think sometimes that this need to know what happens before seeing the story is a very human reaction to the uncertainties of real life. It's like with the popularity of murder mysteries -- it's comforting to see them solved instead of what happens in reality. We cannot control our environment to the extent we'd like, perhaps, but we can control our storytelling. Sad. We need stories in our lives to help us deal with life, not to make it easy or create the illusion that it's controllable. We need stories to see how others deal with both ordinary and extraordinary situations, to challenge us with how we might deal with the same situations. Welcome surprises. Especially to awards shows!
Next year, I'd like to see no campaigning to the Academy members and the media for the Oscars. Let's be truly surprised.....