Not only has NY Press critic Armond White written that “Oscar punditry has become a branch of journalism” — he has gone one better. Oscarology is “no longer on a par with criticism, but has taken the place of criticism,” he writes. The piece is called “Wake Up and Smell the Oscars — They Stink!”
The idea that a knowledgable guy like White would even jest that Tom O’Neil, Sasha Stone, Scott Feinberg, Kris Tapley, David Poland and Pete Hammond (to name a few colleagues in the Oscar go-go racket) are 21st Century manifestations of Stanley Kaufman, Andrew Sarris, Dwight McDonald, Judith Crist, Brendan Gill, Penelope Gilliatt and Pauline Kael is a holy-shit thought, and at the very least something to smirk about and reflect upon.
“Every year [Oscar] insanity turns the public into suckers,” White continues, “subject to the whims of how publicity mavens who decide which millionaire client will command popular attention. Oscared films become important for not a second longer than the exploitable moment. Movies released during award season for the awards crush don’t even have time to enter the culture, and we forsake our cultural right to claim — and acclaim — what is meaningful to us spiritually or aesthetically by following this whole rigged process.
“Think about it: Does anyone care anymore about The English Patient? Shakespeare in Love? American Beauty? Chicago? A Beautiful Mind? Million Dollar Baby? Slumdog Millionaire? None of these films are artistic landmarks.They didn’t mean much even while watching them. But the further you get away from the first impression or from the marketing, they mean nothing.They’re just…Oscar winners.”
I think about and greatly admire American Beauty because of Kevin Spacey‘s performance, Conrad Hall‘s cinematography and the film’s central idea — i.e., we’re all too caught up in the hurlyburly to stop and smell the roses, get high and watch wind-whipped plastic bags float around.
And I’ll always have a soft spot for A Beautiful Mind because of Russell Crowe‘s performance (and that hand gesture he came up that conveyed the act of a thought flying out of his head), the third-act pens scene and James Horner‘s musical score.
The title of this piece is the second-to-last line in a certain Oscar-winning film from the mid ’50s. Name it?