From 1994 to 2004, I watched the Oscars. Religiously, reverently. In college I’d organize viewing parties and low-stakes betting pools. Once, in 1996, I even interrupted a family vacation to return to the hotel in time for the evening’s telecast. Pulp Fiction won Best Screenplay, but lost Best Picture to Forrest Gump, teaching me to which category to really pay attention to in the coming years.
And then Crash won in 2004 and I realized my film taste ran counter to the Academy’s. Of course, I’d deviated from their picks in the past, but never so decisively. Crash is easily one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, a condescending back-patting by a whitewashed Hollywood crew about what life must be like for all those impoverished “others” down in the valley. (Manolha Dargis beautifully explains the political forces behind its critical laurels.)
For the past eight years I’ve watched the awards as you might skim high school friends’ Facebook posts: intermittently, with a modicum of interest, and without consequence. Continue reading