Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oscars Should Act Like Sports Halls Of Fame

The Oscars are this Sunday so all the pomp and circumstance about film and the industry will be at their highest levels. I live the Oscars, but I'm not a total fan of how they do it.

The Oscars are huge for an actor's, director's, cinematographer's, etc's career. I mean, Cuba Gooding Jr can say that he's an Academy Award winning actor as he works on his latest straight-to-DVD flick. So they need to get it right each year.

That's why I am proposing that the Oscars wait 5 years ... just like many of the sports Halls of Fame ... before honoring those films. (I know, it would never happen). That's not to say that the Academy never gets it right ... but it doesn't hurt to get some perspective.

I mean, five years ago (that would be the 2006 awards), The Departed won for Best Picture. I can't argue with that since I did love that movie. But how about the year before? In 2005, Crash won over Brokeback Mountain. While I can honestly say that I didn't see Brokeback Mountain (my wife did, and we both saw Crash), it seems to everyone that saw it a much better movie. It certainly has survived better than Crash has over the years.

How about 1999 when American Beauty won over movies like The Sixth Sense or The Green Mile? Even worse, the year before when somehow Shakespeare In Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. Saving Private Ryan is one of the most meaningful movies in my life. The first half hour alone should horrify everyone into never wanting another war to take place. The English Patient over Fargo in 1996? Please. Even last year's The King's Speech over The Social Network and Inception could be rewritten. Remember that the critic's all-time favorite movie, Citizen Kane, didn't win for Best Picture.

Would history be re-written? Maybe not. But it would make things a lot more interesting. I mean, I can't blame Forrest Gump winning in 1994, but I'd love to see a battle between it and Pulp Fiction five years later for the top prize (you can throw The Shawshank Redemption in that brawl as well). Both are excellent movies and both have been very impactful for film making to this day.

So put this year into that mold. What would happen in February 2017 when we would decide between The Artist and The Help? Who knows? But we have to decide that just a few months after those movies were released (has anyone seen The Artist?)

In the sports world, we do name our MVPs and such after the regular season each year. I can see how you can make it a similar case as naming a Best Picture each year. But unlike MVPs, winning a Best Picture or an acting award puts you in a sort of acting Hall Of Fame. Like I said, Cuba Gooding Jr can make Boat Trip 2 and all of the promotional tools will say "Academy Award winner" right before his name. Hell, Jonah Hill will now go the rest of his life with "Academy Award nominee" tagging him.

In sports, legendary status is bestowed via the Hall Of Fame. You can win scoring titles, MVPs and other awards but it is the Hall Of Fame that makes you a made man. Becoming a Hall Of Famer is akin to becoming an Oscar winner.

Well, if sports just gave Hall Of Fame plaques after you retire, imagine 2001. The year 2001 was the final season of Mark McGwire's career. Had the HoF voted then, Big Mac would've been a shoo-in. Just three years prior, his assault on Roger Maris' home run record saved baseball from their 1994 World Series cancellation. He was amazing.

But they wait five years. And in those five years, the steroid bomb blew up and critics had to adjust their voting measures. McGwire's numbers would've normally equaled HoF status. Not anymore. Soon they'll have to do the same to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. This isn't just for the steroids era ... but how many guys are thought to be Hall Of Famers when they retire that just don't make the cut five years later?

To wrap this us, I'm basically saying that making a decision that is basically a career defining moment in an actor's/athlete's on such sort notice can be hasty.

That's why Mark McGwire waits for a phone call from Cooperstown that may never come.

Yet we never have network television make a special showing of Academy Award Winning Best Picture Shakespeare In Love like we do with Saving Private Ryan. In 25 years, which one will you remember?

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