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The More the Merrier
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
One of our daily papers wrote an editorial about the addition of five best picture nominees to the Best Picture Category of the Oscars. They generally thought it was a good thing. They slammed independent films and lauded pictures “most of us see.” The editorial felt that expanding the category would include more popular pictures. I assume by this they mean blockbusters and kids’ films.
I guess more choices are better, but I can’t help but think this falls in with the dumbing down of America. I’m no Roger Ebert, but just because millions of people see a film, it doesn’t mean everyone thought it was good. I tend to avoid blockbusters, the types of film with mediocre plots and $1 billion in special effects. I saw Independence Day, Twister, and more recently, Ironman and the latest Indiana Jones flick. ID4 and Twister were forgettable. I liked Indiana Jones better than Ironman, but I can’t honestly say I’d want to see these films again.
But then, I’m not like everyone else, and sometimes that causes problems. What people hold up to be hilarious, I frequently dismiss as “crap.” Everyone went bananas over There’s Something About Mary, but not me. I guess I’m the only one out there who thinks using semen as hair gel is downright disturbing. If I want to see something like that, I’d rent porn. Not sure if there’s a flick called There’s Something About Gary, but if there isn’t, there sure ought to be.
The movies I like are either too “deep,” too “depressing,” or the level of parody and satire goes over the heads of the people I know. One of my co-workers remarked that Borat wasn’t allowed to do any more movies because of the way he made his country look. I had to break it to him that Borat was a fictional character, who did interview people, but it was done to make fun of things and individuals. I refrained from using the word “mockumentary” because I was afraid I’d have to explain that too.
And as long as we are including blockbusters, comedies, romantic comedies, kids’ flicks, animated flicks, movies in a genre not otherwise specified, and mediocre crap, why not include porn? Yes, porn. A low-budget flick by the name Deep Throat turned into one of the biggest films of all time, because it attracted enough people who wouldn’t normally watch porn. I won’t go into how Linda Lovelace was forced to make that movie, or her abuse at the hands of her husband/manager Chuck Traynor, but if you go by the amount of money made and the number of people who’ve seen it, doesn’t it qualify for SOME kind of Academy Award?
I’ll be interested to see what gets nominated for best picture for the next Oscars. The picture that was run with the editorial included some really memorable film titles (Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Goodbye Mr. Chips), but I can’t really say that any of them were “kid friendly.” I wouldn’t subject anyone under the age of 18 to Gone With The Wind, especially if he’s a guy.
I don’t consider myself a film snob, but I am careful about what I spend my money on. That being said, I enjoyed Borat and Talladega Nights, but I wouldn’t nominate them for best picture. They made me laugh, sometimes they even horrified me (the Running of the Jew scene in Borat made me do a mental “Oh My God!”) but they aren’t best picture material.
So here’s a proposal: instead of expanding the best picture category, let’s add three categories: best comedy, best kids’ film and best blockbuster. Yes, it will make the show longer, but it will make it fairer. I loved Slumdog Millionaire, which was neither a blockbuster nor a comedy, but was an amazing movie. I’ll watch it again, just like I watch Little Miss Sunshine (one of my favorite movies of all time) and Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada over and over again. All four of them are good movies, but even I know enough to know that of the four, probably only Little Miss Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire are up there in terms of quality. Yet one is a subtle comedy (subtle comedy=a movie where Will Farrell isn’t running around half-naked) and the other is drama. Both have happy endings, but you’re not sure how they are going to get there. THAT’s what makes a movie a great one.
So bring it on, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: I dare you to nominate Star Trek and Sunshine Cleaning for best picture. And to satisfy the kiddies, throw in the latest installment of Ice Age and Up. I’m willing to bet at least three of the “best picture” nominees will be absolutely forgettable.
In the meantime, I need to see There’s Something About Gary, if indeed it exists. If not, perhaps I’ll make it, and lobby for it to be included in the best picture category. After all, shouldn’t we include the genre of Best Porn Film Making Fun of a Mainstream Film?