by Levi Dayan
[originally published spring 2020]
Movies, movies, movies. Everybody loves them, and for good reason. And since the beginning of time, from Stone Age to phone age, Austin Powers to Austin Powers Goldmember, nothing has been more important in movie history than the Oscar. It is the Big One, the golden guy, the mighty Oscar, the single biggest sign that a movie is good.
The biggest mistake people make when getting mad about the Oscar Awards is that they often compare it to award shows such as the Grammys, which makes sense considering that for some reasons the Grammys happen at around the same time. However, the Grammys are an “award show” in which the “winners” are “chosen” by a group of industry movers and shakers, and these are people who often chose the wrong people to win these awards. A more accurate point of comparison would be the Papal Conclave. Sometimes, the newly chosen Pope may seem lame, boring, offensive, or even straight up not that good, but one fact remains: he is the Pope, he is valid, and nothing can change that. What I am saying is that the Oscar is the Pope of movies, in that He is predetermined by an act of divine power (perhaps God), and thus, inherently good.
But theorizing about why the Oscars make these decisions is beside the point. The point is, how can we make the Oscars less confusing? And the answer to that question is not by changing them, but by expanding them. As I read through the list of this year’s Oscar winners, I was struck by the underrepresentation of classic movies in favor of new hotshot directors. In fact, there were no movies that came out before 2019. Again, regardless of how lame a movie seems, if it’s an Oscar winner it’s an Oscar winner, and therefore a good movie. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be more Oscar winners outside of the limited boundaries we’ve created for them. Much like the bible or the United States constitution, the Oscar is a living, breathing document that can be interpreted in many different ways. So why not acknowledge the important roles certain classic movies have played in our minds, and in our hearts, by giving them more awards? In particular, I see no reason why Rocky, which beat Taxi Driver in 1976, shouldn’t win two or three more awards. Gosh, what a great little movie that was.
I also think that, for the benefit of the nation and the nation’s children, we should give more awards to classics such as Patton, because not enough people realize that the titular “Patton” is not just an angry man in a movie, but actually a real guy who fought in a war. The same goes for films such as The Deer Hunter, Platoon, and Forrest Gump, which remind us that the Vietnam war did, in fact, really happen. By giving these movies awards even in years in which they were not shown in theaters, we will now know how many times each movie has won the Oscar, thus providing the definitive ranking system for how good a movie is. Additionally, I see no harm in giving awards to people who, despite not being the best in their field, are at the very least chill guys who are fun to hang out with. This way we could finally recognize people such as Kevin Smith and the Rock for their roles in making the world smile.
I ask the Academy to take a hard look at itself. It is 2020, for Pete’s sake! How in 2020 do we not have the tools to evaluate work that came out before 2019? How have smile factories like Kevin smith not gotten statues of recognition for their lifetimes of hard work? Do better.