Twitter has been abuzz today with the Hollywood Reporter’s anonymous interview with a “brutally honest” Oscar voter, a female member of the public relations branch.
This is the quote generating the most attention:
First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?
Hoo boy. OK. For what it’s worth, here are her opinions on the other nominated films:
As for the film itself, it’s a very traditional story, in some ways, about mentoring and excellence — that kind of movie has existed since [the 1933 film] 42nd Street.
American Sniper is the winner of the year, whether or not it gets a single statuette, because for all of us in the movie industry — I don’t care what your politics are — it is literally the answer to a prayer for a midrange budget movie directed by an 84-year-old guy [Clint Eastwood] to do this kind of business.
I just don’t know how much it’s resonating out in the world. I mean, American Sniper made more in its third weekend in wide release than Birdman has made in its entirety.
Grand Budapest Hotel:
I am not a Wes Anderson fan, but as his movies go, I liked it.
The Imitation Game:
So why isn’t it receiving more recognition? I’d like to believe it’s karma for Harvey [Weinstein]. But I’m going to hold my nose and vote for it anyway because when you vote for best picture, what you should try to do is vote for the movie that, years from now, people will still watch and talk about.
The Theory of Everything:
…it’s what I call a “filler” nominee: It’s one of those movies that people write in but that doesn’t stand a chance of winning.
Watching it, I thought it was ambitious and a directorial triumph, but the kid was uneven and Patricia Arquette probably was sorry she agreed to let them film her age over 12 years.
The whole interview is a fascinating peek into the mind of the kind of person who selects the Best Picture winner each year. Ultimately, it teaches us one big lesson: there is no rhyme, reason or science behind who wins what or who’s nominated in the first place. There is only this: weird, baffling opinions that only make sense to the person who possesses said opinion. It’s why internet comment threads are garbage bins of nonsense and insanity (no offense).
So while this single individual opinion may sting with the awkward burn of written social discomfort, remember one valuable lesson: the Academy Award winners are chosen by random people for a random assortment of random reasons. Ultimately, they mean nothing.
Oh, and join me Sunday for the annual liveblog. I mean, it’s cinema’s most important night, after all.