Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Burning question: Does Best Picture matter?

With all the Oscar hullabaloo (of which we're guilty as well), it's easy to accept that the Oscars matter, that the acting winners represent the fines that Hollywood offers, and that an institution as venerated as the Academy is the official tastemaker.

Take a step back and read this interesting and controversial opinion from Rob Lowman of the L.A. Daily News. Lowman rightfully argues that past Best Picture winners have not stood the test of time and greatness compared to other nominees. Everyone has an example they can point to. 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, was not even nominated for Best Picture and lost to a largely forgotten Oliver Twist musical. Lowman calls out Rocky – a fine film – for beating legendary directors Sidney Lumet and Ingmar Bergman for Best Director.

Awards voting is always subjective, and Lowman seems to have a particular axe to grind with Oscar frontrunner Argo, but his point is valid. Flavors of the moment and popular consensus do tend to cloud judgment, and the Academy's track record is spotty. But the Academy gets it right more often than not: there's good reason Patton won over Love Story.

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