The last Oscar telecast I can remember watching in its' entirety was in February of 2002. That's eleven years ago for you folks scoring at home. That was the year Halle Berry won a Best Actress Academy Award and had an emotional meltdown on stage when she accepted the award. I'm not sure I wouldn't do the same under the circumstances but no one else that walked away with a statue that night had the same over-the-top reaction as Berry did. Like legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal once said about end-zone behavior: "act like you've been there before."
I remember that the Oscars that night seemed to go on forever (they may still be taking place somewhere for all I know). Judy and I were at the home of some friends and we all kept looking at our watches throughout the telecast, wondering when it would end. This was, after all, a Sunday evening, and we all had to get up and go to work early the next morning. More importantly, I hadn't seen any of the films nominated for any of the awards and I really didn't care who won or lost. We were watching just to be sociable and enjoy some time with our friends. When I got home late that night I realized something shocking but true: I just didn't give a damn about the Academy Awards anymore and I'd be damned if I'd spend another long Sunday night watching another pointless and meaningless (to me at least) Oscar awards show.
I didn't always feel this way. When I was younger, I prided myself on having seen most of the Best Picture nominees each year. My perfect year was 1970 when I saw all five of the Best Picture candidates: PATTON, AIRPORT, FIVE EASY PIECES, LOVE STORY and M*A*S*H. Not bad for a thirteen year old kid.
But over time, I saw less and less of the nominated films each year (hell, I saw less films period each year). It got to the point where I might see one Best Picture nominee, maybe two but never all of them. And then, over time, I began to notice something.
I didn't see any of the films. None. Nada. Zilch.
As was the case for the show last night. I haven't seen a single Best Picture nominee from last year. In fact, in all of 2012, the only first run films I saw at the theater were the following: JOHN CARTER, THE AVENGERS, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, PROMETHEUS, TOTAL RECALL, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE and SKYFALL. That's not to say that I won't see some of the nominated films eventually. I'd like to see LINCOLN, ZERO DARK THIRTY and ARGO and I imagine I will at some point in the future.
Here's my score for Best Picture winners going back to 1990: DANCES WITH WOLVES (I saw this one but will go to my grave knowing that the vastly superior GOODFELLAS was robbed), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (saw it), UNFORGIVEN (saw it twice!), SCHINDLER'S LIST (oh, great gods of cinema forgive me, I've never seen this), FORREST GUMP (saw it, thought it was highly overrated), BRAVEHEART (saw it), THE ENGLISH PATIENT (saw it, hated every minute of it), TITANIC (saw it), SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (didn't see it), AMERICAN BEAUTY (saw it), GLADIATOR (saw it), A BEAUTIFUL MIND (didn't see it), CHICAGO (nope), THE RETURN OF THE KING (I will cross against the light to avoid any and all J.R.R. Tolkien films, so no, didn't see it), MILLION DOLLAR BABY (saw it, loved it), CRASH (nyet), THE DEPARTED (saw it, was blown away), NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (saw it, really liked it), SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (no), THE HURT LOCKER (no), THE KING'S SPEECH (no), THE ARTIST (no) and ARGO (not yet). So, I've seen only twelve out of the last twenty-three Best Pictures of the Year. Not a stellar batting average by any means, especially for someone like myself who used to see practically everything that came out.
But that was then and this is now. When I was younger and single, I used to see at least one new film every week, sometimes two. But over time, I've found that I just don't go to the movies that much anymore. The ticket prices are too high, it's a further drive now that I live outside of town, there's less I really want to see and it's far easier to stay home and watch a film on DVD from my vast collection. All of those DVDs on my shelves are proof that I haven't lost my love of films. It's just that my preferences and tastes have changed over time and I now find that it's the older, classic stuff that I prefer to watch instead of more contemporary fare. I have huge sections in my collection devoted to the films of Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Roger Corman, Ray Harryhausen and Alfred Hitchcock. I've got one shelf of Criterion Collection gems, two shelves of vintage film noir, a shelf of James Bond, two shelves of comic book movies, etc.
Over the last few years, I've only made the effort to get to the theaters to see the big blockbuster comic book superhero films (most of which I've thoroughly enjoyed). I'm sure I'll make the effort to get to the theaters this year to see STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, THE MAN OF STEEL, IRON MAN 3, THOR 2: THE DARK WORLD and maybe a few others. Plus, during the summer months I can see great classic old movies at the Paramount for free. Why spend twenty bucks to see something that I might enjoy when I can see something I know I'll love for free?
I didn't watch the Oscars last night. I won't watch them next year, or the year after that or the year after that and... You get the picture. The Academy Awards are a waste of precious time for me. I never thought I'd say that. I used to watch the entire show, I used to compete in Oscar betting pools, I used to think that what happened in Hollywood that night had some bearing on my life.
It never did.