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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

As Oscars change, so too does interest level

Oscar, I’ve just about given up.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re handsome, standing guard with your sword.

But the award you represent is growing so frustrating that I’m about to turn on you.

As we enter the final week before the presentation of filmmaking’s biggest honor, the Academy Award, it becomes more and more clear that you don’t know what you want to be.

And, because of that, as a film fan, it’s difficult to know just what I need to see.

Over the years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made efforts to keep up as the movie industry has changed.

First came foreign films, then independent film, then animated film.

Now, in an age when everyone’s a winner and everything seems to be “great,” the list of “Best Picture” nominees numbers 10.

It started last year, as a way to honor the films that show up in other categories, but which never make it onto the big list.

Arguably, it has cheapened the top award. Anyone who calls himself or herself a film fan knows “Toy Story 3” has no chance to beat “The King’s Speech,” but they both find themselves up for the same award.

Yes, “Toy Story 3” made me cry. Yes, it was highly entertaining. But, good enough to be considered in the same league as the Colin Firth saga of royalty dealing with the very real problem of stuttering as he takes his place in the public eye?


So, the more the Oscars change, the more movie fans need to.

The new girth in the “Best Picture” ticket has also increased the work of the film buffs among us.

That month between the day the nominees are announced and when the statuettes are handed out used to be just right for catching up on the films you might have missed but are deemed good enough not to miss.

Going into the nominations, I felt pretty good. Then, when the list came out, I realized I was only halfway there.

And, after illness and obligations kept me busy, I’m still there a week before the ceremony.
I know I shouldn’t care what “The Academy” thinks — that I should judge a movie based on my experience and my own feelings. But hearing reviewers’ opinions and how my views stack up against the voters is important, too.

So I attempt each year to see all the “Best Picture” nominees before the show. Then I can honestly say which one I think should win, and show my disappointment when my favorites don’t.

Last week, feeling the pressure of the looming show, I checked out which of the movies I could quickly accomplish. There aren’t many.

I haven’t seen “True Grit,” “127 Hours,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Inception” or “The Kids Are All Right.”
Only one of them is still in theaters, and it’s the one I least want to see. I’m not a big western fan, so I was hopeful that “True Grit” would miss the final list. No luck. So, I probably will check it out this weekend.
As for the rest, I’ve been directed to try Netflix.

Even that’s problematic anymore because of its increased fees and the time it would take to receive them in the mail.

Sure, I could sit and watch them at home on my computer. But after spending the entire day staring at my computer screen, that somehow isn’t as fun as going to the theater, grabbing a jumbo box of overpriced popcorn and sitting back to enjoy a movie.

But, if the Oscars continue the way they’re going, I’ll have to do something if I’m going to accomplish my goal of being a fan in the know.

Or, maybe I should just give up and become the average movie fan.

But that won’t be fun until The Academy starts rewarding fans with an Oscar.


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