Monday, November 24, 2008

The Joke's on Us

The Academy likes to award certain kinds of movies that big Best Picture Oscar--sweeping epics, character-driven dramas, biopics, things based on a famous book, etc. But what about the comedies? Just because something makes you laugh and potentially isn't about major life-threatening issues doesn't mean it's not a good, quality movie worthy of recognition.

The linked article above talks about the timing it takes for a good comedy, and how choreographed things are. Usually, actors don't just show up on set and make with the funny. It's a whole process, and filmmakers should be rewarded for their work, which is just as important as any work done on No Country for Old Men or The Departed.

Certainly, there have been some solid comedic nominations in the last few years: Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, to name a couple. But I don't think anyone assumed those would be the night's big winners. Does the Academy feel silly to recognize a good comedic work? And what about animated films? So far, Beauty and the Beast is the only one to get a Best Picture nod. I love Beauty and the Beast like crazy, but Pixar has shuffled in a new generation of animated film. What's going to happen to Wall-E? (Can the real Wall-E present an award? Seriously?)

I'm really curious about all this for this year's Oscars, since I can think of several great action films or comedies, but not as many stand-out, traditional Oscar films. (If you have favorites so far, post them in the comments.)

I can understand how it would be hard to pit a drama against a comedy. How do you compare such different movies? But shouldn't a good film be recognized no matter what kind of film it is?

The article mentioned the possibility of starting a new category for musicals/comedies. I don't think that's the issue at all. Then films will get relegated to their separate categories and never have to meet. Let the Golden Globes do that. I think the Academy should just realize that sometimes a good comedy is good enough to be a big winner. After all, they used to do that all the time. It Happened One Night was the first winner of all major awards--acting, directing, picture--and that's really a romantic comedy. You Can't Take It With You is adorably Capra. Annie Hall dealt with the bigger issue of an impossible relationship, but overall it's still a comedy. Really, aside from Annie Hall, the comedy has been shuffled out of the Best Picture category since the late 60's.

I think it's time for the Academy to take a closer look at its process, especially since viewership has hit an all-time low. People aren't tuning into the Oscars because their favorite movies aren't contenders. I loved No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, but was I desperate to see who would win? Not so much. But if The Dark Knight gets nominated, you can bet I'll watch just to see how things all play out. (It's not a comedy, but I place action films in the same position.)