Oscar shows signs of credibility

ap_no_country_071210_ms.jpg

Now that I have slammed Oscar for losing its credibility as a brand over the years, I believe it’s only fair to speak up when Oscar gets it right. The 80th Academy Awards restored a lot of credibility in recognizing the excellence of No Country for Old Men.

No Country for Old Men bagged major Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for Ethan and Joel Cohen, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. I hope the movie’s success will also cause more people to purchase the brilliant book written by Pulitizer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy.

This is a compelling movie, but an ugly one, unlike Atonement, which had that Big Oscar Movie gravitas.

Like the Cohen Brothers’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men contemplates the existence of evil in the world and our uneasy acceptance of it. But unlike police officer Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes to realize that he is up against an evil (in the form of killer Anton Chigurh) that he cannot fathom or stop.

In short, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes face to face with his own limitations — and, ultimately, defeat.

This is the kind of movie that I am not sure I would have understood or appreciated when I was in college, but as an adult coming to terms with human limitations and the reality of evil, I feel like No Country for Old Men speaks to me — which I love about a great movie.

But the movie is violent, harsh, and depressing — hardly the kind the Academy likes. Oscar hasn’t shown cajones like this since awarding the dark, violent Silence of the Lambs a Best Picture.

This is how a brand restores credibility and authenticity.

Oscar shows signs of credibility

ap_no_country_071210_ms.jpg

Now that I have slammed Oscar for losing its credibility as a brand over the years, I believe it’s only fair to speak up when Oscar gets it right. The 80th Academy Awards restored a lot of credibility in recognizing the excellence of No Country for Old Men.

No Country for Old Men bagged major Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for Ethan and Joel Cohen, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem. I hope the movie’s success will also cause more people to purchase the brilliant book written by Pulitizer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy.

This is a compelling movie, but an ugly one, unlike Atonement, which had that Big Oscar Movie gravitas.

Like the Cohen Brothers’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men contemplates the existence of evil in the world and our uneasy acceptance of it. But unlike police officer Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes to realize that he is up against an evil (in the form of killer Anton Chigurh) that he cannot fathom or stop.

In short, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes face to face with his own limitations — and, ultimately, defeat.

This is the kind of movie that I am not sure I would have understood or appreciated when I was in college, but as an adult coming to terms with human limitations and the reality of evil, I feel like No Country for Old Men speaks to me — which I love about a great movie.

But the movie is violent, harsh, and depressing — hardly the kind the Academy likes. Oscar hasn’t shown cajones like this since awarding the dark, violent Silence of the Lambs a Best Picture.

This is how a brand restores credibility and authenticity.

Oscar, you suck

wk-al058a_oscar_20080221173008.jpg

I thought I was being tough on the Academy Awards. Now comes a February 22 Wall Street Journal article, “Fade to Bleak,” which examines the bad buzz surrounding the 2008 Academy Awards. Oh, and last month The Washington Post bitched about Oscar in “Oscars Fade to Bleak.” (Do the Post and WSJ outsource their headline writing to the same editor?) A couple of follow-up points about the bad Oscar buzz:

* The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post attack the buzz value of the Oscar brand. My blog questions the credibilty and authenticity of the Oscar brand.

* A solution to both problems: the stuffy Academy should give some power to the people. How about creating one category, “People’s Choice,” where we can vote on Best Picure, Actor, etc.? Yeah, I know the cheesy People’s Choice Awards is supposed to do that to some degree, but I’m talking about Oscar giving a voice to all the smart alecks like me who think we know movies. The wildly popular Webby Awards, for instance, have a People’s Choice category, which works quite nicely and does not tarnish the prestige of the Webby brand.

Incidentally, I admire Joe Morgenstern, but seriously, do you really believe Juno should win for Best Picture? No one who has met an unwed teen mother in real life would ever vote for that cutesy, hipper-than-thou fluff.

Oscar, you suck

wk-al058a_oscar_20080221173008.jpg

I thought I was being tough on the Academy Awards. Now comes a February 22 Wall Street Journal article, “Fade to Bleak,” which examines the bad buzz surrounding the 2008 Academy Awards. Oh, and last month The Washington Post bitched about Oscar in “Oscars Fade to Bleak.” (Do the Post and WSJ outsource their headline writing to the same editor?) A couple of follow-up points about the bad Oscar buzz:

* The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post attack the buzz value of the Oscar brand. My blog questions the credibilty and authenticity of the Oscar brand.

* A solution to both problems: the stuffy Academy should give some power to the people. How about creating one category, “People’s Choice,” where we can vote on Best Picure, Actor, etc.? Yeah, I know the cheesy People’s Choice Awards is supposed to do that to some degree, but I’m talking about Oscar giving a voice to all the smart alecks like me who think we know movies. The wildly popular Webby Awards, for instance, have a People’s Choice category, which works quite nicely and does not tarnish the prestige of the Webby brand.

Incidentally, I admire Joe Morgenstern, but seriously, do you really believe Juno should win for Best Picture? No one who has met an unwed teen mother in real life would ever vote for that cutesy, hipper-than-thou fluff.

Oscar, we don’t believe you

oscar1.jpg

Stuart Elliott recently reported that advertisers are treating the February 24 broadcast of the Academy Awards like the Super Bowl, spending about $1.6 million for a 30-second ad. But there’s a major difference between the Oscars and the Super Bowl: while the quality of the Super Bowl has gradually improved, Oscar ain’t living up to his brand promise to honor “outstanding film achievements.”

Let’s look at a few examples of how superhype, sentimentality, and flat-out bad judgment have damaged the authenticity of the Oscar brand:

Continue reading

Oscar, we don’t believe you

oscar1.jpg

Stuart Elliott recently reported that advertisers are treating the February 24 broadcast of the Academy Awards like the Super Bowl, spending about $1.6 million for a 30-second ad. But there’s a major difference between the Oscars and the Super Bowl: while the quality of the Super Bowl has gradually improved, Oscar ain’t living up to his brand promise to honor “outstanding film achievements.”

Let’s look at a few examples of how superhype, sentimentality, and flat-out bad judgment have damaged the authenticity of the Oscar brand:

Continue reading