I have a confession to make: I haven't watched the annual orgy of stupidity, vanity, and self-congratulation popularly known as the Academy Awards in years. The Oscars are a farce, an abomination, a laughingstock, a repugnant folly, an insult to the intelligence of any moviegoer with even a modicum of taste. They celebrate successful movie industry politicking, not cinematic merit. So thoroughly do I despise the hypocritical 68-year-old institution that I refuse even to mention in my reviews the fact that an actor or actress or director has taken home one of the gold statuettes in the past. You will not read me plugging an actor or a filmmaker as an Academy Award winner/nominee, and I urge you to join me in boycotting the televised awards ceremony. Maybe if we all ignore it it will go away.
I mean, please, ten nominations, including best picture, for Braveheart? Who is the Academy trying to kid? That excruciating three-hour mediocrity had exactly one thing going for it: cool battle scenes. The story amounted to little more that a seemingly interminable compendium of cliches, and Mel Gibson's performance in the lead role wasn't up to his Lethal Weapon standards. Even Kevin Costner's Robin Hood offered more originality.
Not only would I not have included Braveheart among my top five movies for 1995, I wouldn't have listed it in my top fifty!
TV's People's Choice Awards have more integrity than the damn Oscars. Consider what the Academy Awards left out: Not one of the five films mentioned most frequently on year-end critics' polls -- Leaving Las Vegas, The Usual Suspects, Get Shorty, Crumb, and Nixon -- picked up a best picture nomination. Somehow the Academy found a way to snub Crumb in its list of best documentary nominees, despite the fact that many reviewers -- including yours truly -- named it as not just best documentary, but best picture overall. Additionally, the year's most stunning, talked-about performance by an actress -- Nicole Kidman's career-making turn in To Die For -- didn't rate a nomination. And you don't suppose the fact that the ranks of the Motion Picture Academy are loaded with doddering old white guys had anything to do with the total omission of Spike Lee's incendiary slice of ghetto life, Clockers, do you?
I could go on and on. (My original idea for this column was to simply title it "100 Movies Better than Braveheart" and then just list them. But I couldn't narrow it down to merely 100.) The point is, the Academy Awards do not honor excellence in filmmaking; rather, they disgrace and debase the art form. So please don't ask me what I think of this year's crop of nominees. Anyone with a truly brave heart would look the other way.
The South Florida Black Film Festival is currently accepting entries for its sixth annual Oscar Micheaux future filmmakers competition. High school students from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties are eligible to compete for the grand prize of a two-year scholarship to Broward Community College. The entry deadline is April 2. For applications and further info, call the festival hotline at 787-5200 (Dade) or 954-698-5680 (Broward).