If you’ve ever read any of Scott Feinberg‘s “Brutally Honest Oscar Voter” columns, you know that a lot of Academy members are, to put it gently, stubbornly resistant to what could be described as present-tense, finger-to-the-wind, representational snowflake currents.
If you wanted to be dismissive you could call them woke-indifferent, under-the-radar scowlers. As in unenlightened, incurious, living in their own foxholes, “I miss the ’70s”, somewhat resentful, “I’m from Missouri,” “everything sucks,” etc.
They’re not lacking in talent or intelligence or love for movie lore, these people, but they do seem irked by the social justice warrior syndrome…to processing all the contenders with a carefully calibrated woke filter. They like what they like and respect what they respect, but they sometimes vote for films that the wokesters despise (i.e., Green Book) and thank God in heaven for that.
God Herself howled in triumph, trust me, on the night that Green Book won and Spike Lee turned his back. And She beamed with delight when Get Out was blown off.
There are, of course, many other Academy members who see things differently. Particularly the newly added internationals who voted overwhelmingly for Parasite + the New Academy Kidz who hate anything that smacks of OLDER WHITE GUYS and are always thinking “let’s give actors and filmmakers who aren’t part of the older-white-guy, Spielberg-stamped network a chance.”
But based on those “Brutally Honest” confessionals, a good percentage of Oscar voters and guild members don’t think like…well, any of the elite critics and Oscar-watching columnists.
It’s like Clayton Davis, Eric Kohn, Justin Chang, Tom O’Neill, Robbie Collin, Manohla Dargis, Angelica Jade Bastién, Steve Pond, Erik Anderson, David Ehrlich, Alison Willmore…it’s like the wokesterati and SJW banner carriers live on one planet, and the people who actually work in the film industry and vote for Oscars (and Emmys and guild awards) live on another.
Do certain tastes and preferences overlap? Yes, of course, but generally speaking very few….I should say almost no critics or columnists seem to live, think and breathe like the rank and file. Put another way, very few critic-columnists dare to think and write like stubbornly independent foxhole contrarians. Because to do so would mean (and this is crucial) not getting hired by the editors and publishers who are also living in fear of the Khmer Rouge…who are white-knuckle terrified of offending the comintern.
Bottom line: If you want to be survive in the film-assessing, Oscar-covering journalistic world of 2020 and ’21, you must play along with the wokesters. Or at least pretend to play along. Which is why almost everyone is more or less singing the same tune.
Except, that is, for Hollywood Elsewhere (i.e., myself) and a few others out there. That’s right…HE and very few others stand alone. Alone against the wind and the herd.
You can throw your slings and arrows, but HE does not fuck around. No wokester games, no SJW kowtowing…well, some of that but very little. Generally speaking things are what they are.
Which is why I’m one of the very few voices insisting that Steve McQueen‘s Mangrove is the finest film of the the year, despite Amazon having decided that it’s an Emmy awards contender. (Sorry but it’s still the best!)
Why is why almost no columnist or critic is asking why it’s apparently impossible to stream Michael Franco‘s New Order, which won last September’s Venice Film Festival Grand Jury prize, and then was streamed for ten days last October by the Chicago Film Festival.
Which is why almost no one has mentioned the indisputable fact that Roman Polanski‘s An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse), which began to stream on torrent sites earlier this year, is easily among the best of the year. No one has the courage to even mention the winner of the 2019 Venice Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize or the winner of four Cesar Awards (including Polanski for Best Director) on 2.28.20.
Which is why I’ve been telling Oscar strategists and award-season buyers that to truly cover the waterfront, you need an advertising presence on one of the very few movie-centric, awards-focused sites that dares to be different…a site and a voice that dares to stand up to the hive mind and say “no, you’re not attuned…this is how things are.”
Posted earlier this year by the Washington Post‘s Sonny Bunch, and titled “The much-derided ‘Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots’ are the best part of Oscar season“:
“If you are Way Too Online and spend most of your social media time talking about movies, awards season can be both befuddling and fascinating, a perfect little glimpse into shared madness. The topics are generally the same, even if the specific films and awards in question change: who is going to win which trophy, and why; which underrepresented group is being snubbed by which ceremony for what reasons; who has the backing of the guilds and the studios and the agencies; and, eventually, maybe — hopefully, but not certainly! — someone will talk about the actual quality of the movies in question.
“One seemingly shared source of contempt, however, is the annual revealing of the ‘Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots.’ For years now, Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter has been rolling out interviews in which anonymous Oscar voters explain the reasoning behind their votes. For years, the assembled wags howl in outrage as we learn just how little the people voting on these awards really know about the movies in question and just how bad their taste truly is. If only we, the critical masses, could make the choices! We’d do so much better.
“I must confess: I love the ‘Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots.’ I love them so much. They’re the perfect antidote to everyone who thinks that these awards actually mean…well, much of anything.”