February 28, 2005
Academy AwardsBy Tim McNabb
Every year, my friend Jim has an Oscar party. It consists of a bunch of friends getting together, chipping in for pizza, and making commentary, conversation and wisecracks at the global spectacle that is the Academy Awards. Part of the fun of Jim's party is the chance to compete for fabulous prizes in varying categories. Jim sets up a board on which are hung sheets with an Academy Award category and a list of nominees. To compete, we all write our name next to a film, song, screenplay or actor/actress we think will win in that category. Those who play for fun put their name next to sentimental favorites. Competitors will put down what they think will win based on some contrived formula for second—guessing the Academy.
Looking over the field of nominees I was struck by an inspiration for a predictive algorithm. I asked myself, "What would I vote for if I were a self—righteous politically correct Hollywood liberal, especially if I wanted to tell the red states 'screw you and everything you stand for'"? With this method I did not need to see the movies and shorts in question and judge them by their merits. I only had to know their subjects, themes and tone and see how they aligned with Hollywood's cultural and political passions.
Let me tell you folks, my picks dominated. In fact, had I kept my cynicism in place instead of yielding to sentimentality for favorite movies and directors I would have won outright. I chose three movies on criteria other than the Hollywood Liberal method and wound up with a tie.
Red states are rife with pro—lifers who oppose abortion, euthanasia, and in some cases, the death penalty. While the five nominees for best this and that were all pretty good films, only Million Dollar Baby deals with life and death in a manner consistent with the liberal elite's youth—worshipping ideals. It occurred to me that the dominant liberal culture believes that there are lives not worth living, so a movie that makes noble the killing of a hopelessly crippled athlete has to be a shoo—in. I chose Ray for best movie, since Ray Charles had recently passed away but my gut said MDB. I should have gone with my gut.
I also picked Aviator over MDB for best director, hoping that Scorcese would get recognition for his work, but I should have known better. An Oscar for Eastwood's movie would be an irresistible way to let us red state pro—life hicks subtly know what unsophisticated rubes we are.
I chose Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Morgan Freeman is one of my very favorite actors. I've pretty much enjoyed every movie he was in. I felt a little guilty about picking him using such a cynical method. On the other hand, Hilary Swank was sure to once again beat Annette Benning for Best Actress because she played a young, beautiful woman who is put to death by a devout Catholic. How could she lose?
I should have picked Cate Blanchette for Best Supporting Actress since she portrayed Katherine Hepburn, the very model of the modern feminist, right down to her unashamed cheerleading for abortion without apologies. Instead I picked Laura Linney for her role in Kinsey, a movie celebrating the life of a man who fooled America into believing perversion was mainstream. You can see why I was thrown off.
My choice of Lemony Snicket over Aviator in Art Direction hurt. Since neither had a clear PC or 'screw you red state' sense about them, I had no guidance. Should have gone with the Hepburn gambit. The Incredibles was clearly the Best Animated Feature, and an easy pick for everyone at the party. Had there been an animated feature with an evil Southern preacher, I would have had the category all to myself. In Sound Editing and Visual effects, I picked on merit and both The Incredibles and Spider—man 2 won.
Heart—tugging topics dominated both the Documentary Feature and Short categories. Supersize Me was not going to win —— the Academy would not honor two super sized documentarians in a row. I picked stories about children, since those who occupy the Academy love children, with the exception of children in Iraq under Saddam's hobnailed boot. Born into Brothels won for best feature, and for that I am glad — the sex trade is a blight upon our collective souls and raising awareness can only help eradicate it. I chose one of the two titles with the word 'children' in them, and picked up another point with Mighty Times: The Children's March. I went with it because action words are the next best thing to pretty pictures, and The Children of Leningradsky is a title with no verbs.
My faith in Ray Charles' well—deserved appreciation in Hollywood, coupled with white liberal guilt made me confident that Ray would get the Oscar for Sound Mixing. I also picked up a point for choosing Lemony Snicket for makeup, though that was little more than an educated guess.
American liberals' disgusting veneration of the despicable Stalinist thug Che Guevara drove me to successfully choose The Motorcycle Diaries for best adapted screenplay. Further, I knew that the song used in a film celebrating the early life of Communist murderer Guevara would get the award. It had the politically correct multiplier of being the first Academy award song nominee that was in Spanish, so it was an easy pick.
The fossilized Carlos Santana played guitar and Antonio Banderas sang the song, Al Otro Lado Del R�o, that was actually slightly less forgettable than the others, perhaps only because it was in a foreign tongue. Santana was wearing the ubiquitous Che Guevara t—shirt that is all the rage these days among historically ignorant Leftists. Why a free man would want to glorify this foul stain Guevara is beyond me. I think it a symptom of the thoughtlessness of Hollywood liberals. They can beam about revolution in the abstract because nobody they love was shot in the head or left to rot in a gulag. I groused to nobody in particular that I hoped a Cuban refugee was around the back with a baseball bat to counsel Santana on his wardrobe.
Foreign Language and Short Animated gave me nothing to work with, though in the latter category there was a film called Little Terrorist that I thought might win. It lost to Ryan. I gained points from neither category. Same story with Cinematography and Art Direction.
My method outright failed me in Original Screenplay, in part because I loved The Incredibles. I picked it for sentimental reasons. Still, my cynical method would have lead me to pick Vera Drake the heart—warming story about a brave abortionist who lovingly helps women induce miscarriages in 1950s England, and pays a price for her illegal but noble work. As it turns out the Academy surprised me and lauded The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
I picked Jamie Foxx as Best Actor in Ray. Though Foxx does a great job, I understand that Don Cheadle was much better in a much more important story. Here I had the advantage of the Hollywood Hypocrisy factor, reasoned thusly. Hotel Rwanda is a story about the genocidal horrors in that sad country. However, it was a human disaster that happened on Clinton's watch. Since genocide during a Democrat's turn in office is not something a proper liberal cares to bring attention to if they can avoid it, Cheadle had to be left as a nominee, particularly since there was another talented African American upon whom to bestow the award.
I have ranted on about the Oscars long enough. I doubt that members of the Academy specifically set out to jam their collective thumb in our eye. However, their way of thinking is very predictable. The movies the Academy likes reflect their values and beliefs, just like our favorite movies reflect our values. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that those who are the keepers of our culture do not share our values. It is important to keep this in mind as we consume their products. Hollywood is not our friend by any stretch of the imagination. They do produce some good films, but those films don't get made as often, or awarded as frequently as those congenial to the Hollywood Way of Life.
Tim McNabb is a web developer in St. Louis, and writes daily essays on fivehundredwords.com