Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Defense of the Oscars

Have you ever loved something, but felt like you were the only one? In the last few years that's how I've felt about the Oscars. I call it my Super Bowl, as on the night most Americans gather around the TV to cheer on their favorites I watch movies breaking only for the half time show.

True, this year's production of the Academy Awards didn't go unnoticed. Approximately 40 million people watched and are still talking about the winners days later. However, for me it still feels like I know no one who embraces the event as much as I do. I'm not saying no one else cares, I know many of you do, but I keep my love for it in check. I get REAL excited you guys. On the inside, I'm beaming.

In the last few years I've attempted to watch every Best Picture nominee before the big night. This year I was unsuccessful (blame my fabulous social life I suppose). Thanks to reading and research I figured Argo would take home the prize so I made sur to at least watch it. Three hours before the main event Sunday night I curled up on my couch and pressed play.

Argo really is a great film and deserves all the accolades it received this year. At the end, though, a thought crossed my mind. The name associated with the film is, of course, Ben Affleck. Again, he and his team deserved the award they were given - an award for a film. But still watching the movie I couldn't help but think that the man Affleck portrays in the film, CIA Officer Tony Mendez, deserves praise of his own.

And then I realized that if Argo the film hadn't been made, I would not know who Mendez was, nor the impact he's made on our country's history. That got me thinking of all the other characters portrayed in the Oscar films this year and I came to the conclusion that the Oscars is more than a celebration of the year in movies. It's also a celebration of incredible people.

I've heard more than one person say about the Oscars that it's a self-indulgent ceremony, and I do see where those people are coming from. But without those films would we know Tony Mendez and his team's story? Or how a mother, portrayed by Nami Watts in The Impossible, and her family heroically survived the 2004 tsunami? Would we better understand the intensity of the hunt for Osama Bin Ladin that the CIA agent Jessica Chastain played in Zero Dark Thirty lead? I could go on.

These movies not only introduce us to people and their stories, but also provide us with the opportunity to better understand things we might not have without them. The director and actors who created Silver Linings Playbook hope that the film diminishes stigma associated with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. Even the classic musical Les Miserables has in important lesson to teach us. In the conclusion of her acceptance speech Anne Hathaway dedicated her award to all the Fantine's of this world and hopes that soon women like her will only exist in the movies.

So this is why I love movies. Not only do they offer entertainment in artistic ways, but they also introduce us to people and ideas we might never had had the opportunity to meet.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I couldn't help but feel jaded at all of these stars congratulating themselves with lavish dinners and jewelry that cost more than my house (Helen Hunt)...

    But you do raise a good point. It's all in what we choose to focus on. How many people did Argo employ? What did we learn from Tony Mendez's story?