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Friday, 24 March, 2000, 17:40 GMT
The Oscars: Your views
In the week before the Oscars, BBC News Online asked you to send us your views on who you would like to win and what you thought of the movie industry in general.
Here is a selection of your comments:
As a serious film buff I feel that I'm the only one who looks forward to the Oscars. I believe that the Academy does give recognition to independent films as well as "Hollywood" blockbusters. I've been disappointed by some of the great films that have been left out in the past, but the Oscars is pure drama in itself. All the good and bad aspects of the American film industry will be there in all its glory. Viva Oscars!
With a few exceptions, I feel that the Oscars pander more to the big studio mind candy productions than to smaller (or indeed any non American) films. I think we tend to forget that the Oscars are an American ceremony and reflect that most strongly.
Andrew , New York
Having tracked the Oscars for a number of years I believe that they more or less get it right. It is after all a subjective view of what makes a good movie, actor, etc. However, during the last few years there has been a tendancy to pile all of the chips onto a single overhyped and well marketed film, regardless of merit. The epitome of this was Titanic. A film that was more a triumph of technology than a well crafted piece of cinematic art. The casting, script, and quality of acting were poor, and yet it was judged a better film than Ben Hur, South Pacific, Citizen Kane....and so on
There are a lot of people suggesting that the Oscars is all about politics, and they are right of course. It has been like this for time and memorial and is simply an oppurtunity for back-slapping amongst the Hollywood community (on that note, isn't it time Tom Cruise won one?). If it is truly on merit you wish a film to be judged you should look to all the independent film festivals like Sundance, Berlin, London and Cannes (to an extent).
However, watching it is great entertainment and those who look down with artistic snobbishness on it should avoid watching it. Enjoy the glamour and take it at face value as I'm sure even those intimately involved do anyway.
The Oscars are a shallow event, and it is case of style over substance but then so is America. Any other way would surely not seem right.
I have doubts that the Oscar goes to the real good ones. I have the feeling that this award has nothing to the with the quality of the production or acting ability of the actors and actresses in question. It's the PR and fancy parties that matter the most.
Alfred Hitchcock never won. Neither did Cary Grant. Says it all.
Steven Loftis, UK
I'm really torn between "American Beauty" and "The Sixth Sense". If you were taken by surprise by the ending of "6th" (as I was) then that film will have had a major impact on you. Ideally I would like to see Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress go to "...Beauty", and Bestr Supporting Actor and Actress go to "6th". Haley Joel Osment's performance was superb by ANY standards, and Toni Colette was under-rated.
Of course, not being able to see "Cider House Rules", "Tumbleweeds" or "Boys Don't Cry" before the awards is always a problem. Still, my two faves gave me such a good experience it would be hard to beat them. The last time I felt like this was the "Braveheart"/"Babe" year: I came away very satisfied then, and I hope I feel the same way this year. :-)
Hank Feldman, USA
I do really agree with those who say that too many times Oscars have been a prize awarded TO the Box Office, of FOR the Box Office (e.g. in Europe). This should be avoided if Oscars must be a distinction of artistic qualities. I think this year we find among the candidates a much better quality than usual, and perhaps the Academy has understood that it's time to change. The public is tired of special effects and bad people dying two or three times in an orgy of blood.
So far I have only seen American Beauty, Sixth Sense and Insider, but I have heard a lot of good also on Magnolia, Mr Hartley or The House of The Cider. American Beauty is definitely one of the best American movies of the last years. The Sixth Sense is very close however, and I would have liked a nomination for Bruce Willis, surprisingly good. The Insider for me was far too slow, but Russell Crowe gives a very good performance.
Stefano Curotto, Rome, Italy
The Academy Award is moving towards identifying values and mores in society. I think this is great because the film industry is the biggest media and to send the wrong signals in society would further deteriorate society: "American Beauty" identifies with dysfunctional societies in general and not just American; The "Green Mile" condemns the death penalty; The "Hurricane" pointed out reconciliation by a person who had been imprisoned (very much like Nelson Mandela?); The "Insider" pointed out the "unchecked passion" in the business world of greed; In "Boys Don't Cry", it brings across issues that some people behaved differently and should not be discriminated!
If Oscars are for politically correct films as many writers seem to say, then perhaps that's why continental Europe and the UK has its own awards ceremonies.
Don Munro, USA
If 'Magnolia' was released too late for Tom Cruise to be nominated, how come the brilliant Aimee Mann is up for Best Song for 'Save Me' from the movie's soundtrack?
John Nevitt, London, England
The Cider House Rules is a moving, thought provoking movie which will never win a deserved Oscar due to it's subject matter. Middle America will never accept an Oscar winning movie which deals with abortion and incest - they prefer to moralise or ignore such things. Michael Caine is just wonderful in this movie
The only reason the awards exist is to increase box office receipts for American movies playing in the United States. It wasn't that long ago that one studio controlled Academy voting for the major studios. I'm sure it's less biased now (nudge nudge wink wink).
The Oscars have always tended to reward the fare of the big movie houses over those of independent film makers. If Hillary Swank wins the Oscar for best actress in Boy's Don't Cry over the histrionics of Annette Benning in American Beauty then the Oscars will finally be moving towards rewarding cinema as art rather than cinema as fodder for the middlebrow.
As for the undying love of some of the contributors towards the risible Shawshank Redemption, I would argue that the apple pie moralism that that movie expresses is exactly what the Oscars should try to avoid. Those who see the Shawshank Redemption as a world away from the winner that year, Forrest Gump, are about as far-sighted as those who believe George W Bush is a racy and radical alternative to Al Gore.
I believe that the Oscars most frequently
neglect other big movie BoxOffice hits which
earn alot of accreditations. For example, the
movie Independence Day, which did not earn any nomination.
The Academy Awards should include more action down-to-earth
movies to refreshen its otherwise boring ceremony.
Anita Hartz, USA
Absolutely, I liked American Beauty but yes. Better films - there are a few. For example, what happened to Fight Club then? The truth is still that the Academy is for pansies - nothing too controversial and tirelessly marketed is the game so I will be in washing my hair untill incredible talents like Edward Norton gets the big trophy.
Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar, what more is there to say.
The Academy voters will always without fail award Oscars to a) Actors who have never been nominated before (or are likely never to be nominated again) or b) actors who are old and likely not to be around for the next ceremony. It's cynical, I know, but just look at the winners ...
Too many deserving actors/directors miss out because of this mawkish sentimentality
Probably she won because that year she was the lone American amongst the nominees. What real movie did she do before, and really what has she done since!!!
I think this American Beauty will win most of the Awards. Would be nice to see Richard Farnsworth win, but I think Kevin Spacey will win. Oh well, I shall watch them anyway as I do every year
A film of our time. Covers so much that we know but don't talk about easily, except with the word 'dysfunctional'. Thank goodness the film also had a great sense of humour and, where appropriate, did't take itself too seriously.
This year seems to be one of the most open races in years. However American Beauty is going to sweep the awards. Although that may not be a bad thing, some recognition needs to, and should go, to the other films.
The Sixth Sense was an excellent film, with a performance from Bruce Willis that, although doesn't deserve an Oscar, deserved a nomination.
Michael Caine deserves to win simply because he is one of the best actorsof the last 40 years. His canon although it contains a degree of dross has films like Sleuth, The Ipcress File, Hannah and her Sisters and Get Carter.
How Forrest Gump got an Oscar ahead of The Shawshank Redemption I will never understand. Maybe the secret is to have a film that makes America feel good about itself.
The Oscars, in my view, tend to be political. How else are you going to explain why The Colour Purple did not win an Oscar the year it was made, despite the fact that it was nominated for several. Apparently, the Academy had their own unpublicised agenda or criteria. Denzel Washington is a superb actor in The Hurricane, but is the Academy truly interested in quality actors or films? Some other issues are taken into account too. It will be fun to know how, where and why they pick their winners.
Anthony Roberts, England
A public forum for deciding the best picture would be a good idea but internet and phone polls are easily rigged and hijacked.
If Belle & Sebastian ever release a movie the gong is theirs for the taking.
I thought that American Beauty was the usual "Americanata". The young boy in The Sixth Sense deserves an Oscar.
I'd let the people decide for best picture by having an internet and phone poll vote. It appears that everyone not on the Oscar voting committee realises how contrived and biased the system currently is.
Film is an art, even before it is an industry. To approach it almost only as an industry, as the Academy does, means that the art in film will always be overlooked.
Omar, New York, USA
I have sometimes questioned the
choices for Oscar winners. Sometimes
movies, actors and actresses that I
like have won, sometimes not. But I
completely lost faith last year when
Shakespeare in Love (which was not
a bad movie) won over Life is
Beautiful, which is one of the best
films I've ever seen. Why did is lose?
No big name star (in the US at least)
and it was a foreign language film.
They should change the award from
"Best Picture" to "What We Think is
the Best Picture in the English Language".
What is really amusing is that many
people actually believe that Saving
Private Ryan won best picture last
Why does everyone take this so seriously? It's only hype, publicity and superficial gliltz. Surely we're all grown up enough to realise that just because something is called 'Best Picture' doesn't mean it will be the most popular or even that I or you as individuals will like it (I hated Titanic). It is the personal view of a few which gives these results. Box office receipts show the films which are truly appreciated and their fame grows by word of mouth and critical reviews, not by who-won-what at the Oscars. I don't think I've ever watched a film just because of the awards it won because it would not in any way increase my expectations of its appeal. It either has a story / setting / actor/actress which appeals to me or I don't bother watching it. You could argue for days about who was best and which film was best, but it's all personal opinion. Could you agree on history's best actor? Best film? No. So don't expect to agree on one year's output.
It's all a matter of opinion - and what's "in". Of course in the States the movie tastes differ totally from Britain or most other cultures. Unfortunately, to many Americans, the States is the world.
So, I personally don't watch the Oscars - never have (it's not entertaining!). I prefer to do or watch something entertaining. As a 25-year-old, I am starting to find that TV and movies are becomming a bit boring.
Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar, what else is there to say?
Hollywood is all about appearances - who looks good on TV, which dress Gwyneth Paltrow wears, etc. Who cares? The Oscars are a sham. Take Judi Dench's award last year. They do not mean a thing. Talented actors and brilliant films are always overlooked - take The Talented Mr Ripley and Al Pacino. However, those actors who only go into the business to win an Academy Award are morons. Awards don't count. What does is having the ability to move the audience, making an impact, challenging prejudices, and bringing joy into the lives of millions. Leonardo DiCaprio is one such person. He has an amazing ability to unite the world. His films are loved by people from Manchester to Sydney. This is what is important, not having a shiny statuette on the mantlepiece!
There is no denying the originality of "American Beauty",having said that Hollywood has not always been correct. It took Al Pacino the best part of his career to get an oscar for a role that was good,although can no means be compared to "Dog Day Afternoon" or "And Justice for All"
The Oscars are watched by millions across the world, but let us not forget that they do not represent the choice of the people.The Oscars is an evenings entertainment to see the stars dress up for a Hollywood tradition, nothing more nothing less.
I suppose my already shaken faith in the integrity of the Academy Awards was irretreivably destroyed after Titanic was awarded Best Picture. As a result, I don't doubt American Beauty will walk off with a number of awards which should have been bestowed on movies which took chances (Being John Malkovich) or did exactly what movies are supposed to do--entertain (The Sixth Sense).
Peter C. Kohler, USA
American Beauty is a very good film (surprisingly so for an American-made film), but it isn't THAT bloody good. For instance, it pales in comparison to Magnolia, released too late to get in for this round of Oscars. But will Magnolia get the same rapt adoration, coming as it does from the independent side of the industry?
The Oscars regularly succeed in overlooking the worthiest films. The whole event is an ever-crasser fab-fest of Hollywood patting itself on the back, with the outcome often determined by the schmoozing and marketing ability of the studios whcih have films in the running.
I watch the Oscars every year, expecting the most deserving film to win and every year I am , of course, disappointed. The main problem with the Academy seems to be that once they latch onto the idea that a film is good (whether it is or it isn't) then they tend to bestow anything and everything on it, to the detriment of other, just as worthy entrants. I would like to see Hilary Swank win best actress, but I expect that Annette Bening's overtly hysterical wife in American Beauty will win. I would like to see Michael Mann win best director for The Insider but I expect that American Beauty will win again. I would like to see Blame Canada win best original song.... I suppose I will have to go on dreaming.
The Oscars are always wonderful to watch and become better each year. American Beauty will in my opinion get at least five Oscars (including best picture, best actor and actress in a leading role and for best director). I also hope that Haley Joel Osment wins an Oscar for his masterful portrayal of Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense. And I also hope that Angelina Jolie (Jon Voight´s daughter) will win an Oscar for her masterful acting in Girl, Interrupted. This will all be exciting to watch next Sunday and hopefully all the Oscars will go to right places. Enjoy.
I think the Oscars are decided more on who you are than how good a film/performance is. With regards to Al Pacino though, yes he was good but he is completely overshadowed by the tour de force performance that Russell Crowe gives. I think he is more deserving of a nomination than Al.
Films are a matter of personal taste
so the Oscars will always be controversial.
However, what has been the hallmark of
75 years of Hollywood and the US
film industry has been the petty politics, the greed, the vanity and the corrupting influence of the vast sums of money gleaned from film-goers. The Oscars are the way the film industry shows off its pretty side.
I think it is the snowball effect, what one award ceremony does the others follow and hype, cutting it down to a couple of films. It's a total waste of time and is only about self-appreciation.
Al Pacino is fabulous in The Insider but is completely overshadowed by Russell Crowe who is absolutely deserving of his nomination. The only problem I have with the Oscars is that they tend to be political. I think Annette Bening will probably win despite the fact that Hilary Swank is far and away the best actress this year. It depends far more on who you are than who what you have acted.
What about Ralph Fiennes' movie Sunshine? Why is the Academy not interested in a quality film like that?
I really enjoyed a non-Best Picture Oscar contender The Talented Mr Ripley. Its dark account of a mass murderer was chilling and so different than other films.
It's just a festival, I think. And it's a big and effective commercial.
Sometimes it has been a good choice, but sometimes not.
Selection is difficult, isn't it?
I'm fun about it.
Anyone who ever saw the 1995 film La Haine knows in an instant that the
Oscars are hype, hype and more hype. The Oscars are not about good film
they are about justifying large budgets and inept productions.
In my opinion the Shawshank Redemption was one of the best movies of all time. Instead, that year, the Academy chose the awful Forrest Gump. It's been downhill ever since.
I think Oscars are giving to those who really deserve. Sixth Sense movie is just marvellous, to be feel proud of that great Indian director and story writer. I wish him all the best.
What a great time for Nepali movie lovers! First time Nepali movie 'Caravan' got nominated for best foreign movie. Good luck to you all!
The best movie of the year is unfortunately nominated only for best documentary. Genghis Blues deserves a broader audience and worldwide recognition.
Despite the politics and apology the oscars are the most important event in the cinema goers calendar. Embrace the glamour and the gliz, side-step the hypocrisy and settle in for an evening of pure, unadulterated superficiality - I love it! - except of course if Kevin Spacey doesn't win..in that case I'll boycott next year.
I think it is extremely positive that a British-directed film so critical about American society's values should be nominated for so many Oscars - I just hope it wins them!
I don't believe the Academy awards are there to say which film is better than any other as that would be a little blinkered. Surely it is better to judge a film against all others AT THE TIME THE FILM IS RELEASED. As an example, just look at Annie Hall. The film is a classic because it fit in with the political state of America at the time of release, and it went on to win 4 Awards. I think they are correct to judge films against the politics of the time, and that would include the hype that a film creates. Hype isn't hype unless the people get behind it, and if they do, then Awards should be given.
Usually I don't agree with the compilation of movies the Oscars offer us, but this year I actually like most of the movies submitted. I would like to see Denzel get an Oscar for "Hurricane", I was disappointed "the Green Mile" did not receive more nominations. Tom Hanks rarely does bad work.
"October Sky" is simply moving; it isn't controversial and spreads a message of hope. "Hurricane" is also a powerful movie. I believe it is because these movies aren't controversial or don't help to spread the liberal political agenda of Hollywood, that they weren't nominated for Oscars.
I'm not so sure American Beauty will sweep the board, though it does fulfill the criteria of good performances, fine script and intelligent entertainment which would be nice to see in all the movies to somehow hit the screens. I'd have liked to see a nomination for Wes Bentley, who gave by far the most interesting performance, but I'd like to see Joel Haley Osment win it for Sixth Sense.
The problem is that the Oscars are the most globally renowned of film awards, but only concentrate on the English speaking world. The Best Foreign film nods towards the idea of non-English cinema, but there is still a prevalent notion that Hollywood and the Oscars really mean you've hit the pinnacle of achievement. Thankfully for the rest of the world they don't. When will the resurgence of Iranian cinema get a look in for example? And remember 'Welcome to Sarajevo'? Important and visceral film-making which didn't get nearly the recognition it deserved. The fact the Being John Malkovich has had the backing it has should at least be grounds for hope.
So it'll be fun, but nobody should take it too seriously. As they say, 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.'
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