Six years ago, I went on WBAL radio and boldly announced that if Brokeback Mountain didn’t win the Academy Award, I would eat my shoe.
Well, you know the rest: I was forced to blow 60 bucks on a chocolate shoe I found at an online candy store and was later mocked by a complete stranger at the dentist’s office: “Did you chip a tooth eating your shoe?” (For what it’s worth, the overrated Crash ended up getting the nod.)
Ahhh, good times. And times, I feel, that will no longer be replicated.
One of the many problems with this newish phenomenon called “Oscar season”—a season filled with not just a surfeit of award shows (including, full disclosure, one that I vote for: the Critics' Choice Award), but an endless chamber of mirrors of prognostication, analysis, praise, backlash, backlash against the backlash, Tweeting, and live-blogging—is that it has taken almost all the suspense out of the Oscar season.
Don’t get me wrong, there have always been people who were Oscar experts, who analyzed the trajectory of a particular actor or film’s chances the way brokers follow the stock market. But those were a somewhat rarefied bunch, insider types who subscribed to the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Now, there are blogs devoted to the Oscars, microblogs that pop up specifically around this time, and numerous think pieces and magazine cover stories and charts and graphs and even Martha Stewart chiming in with her picks on the New York Times website.
The result of all this? There’s a real consensus out there about who is going to win that everyone sees—including the Oscar voters themselves. The collective consciousness of the Internet, led by the Twitterati, if you will, has already decided that The Artist is a slam dunk, that the best actor race comes down to George Clooney vs. Jean Dujardin (with Gorgeous George getting the edge). That the best actress race will probably go to Viola Davis, with Meryl Streep getting a living legend’s chance. That Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer are mortal locks to win their respective awards (supporting actress and actor). That Michel Hazanavicius will probably win Best Director, but Martin Scorsese has the same living legend’s chance that Meryl has, etc.
And where’s the fun in that? Where’s the award that came out of nowhere: The Juliette Binoche over Lauren Bacall in 1997? The so-crazy-people-thought-it-was-a-mistake Marisa Tomei My Cousin Vinny win of 1993? The still baffling to this day Shakespeare in Love upset over Saving Private Ryan?
We’ll see. I mean, maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe Terrence Malick will win Best Director (please, please, please!). And maybe Woody Allen won’t win Best Original Screenplay for the charming, but hardly revelatory Midnight in Paris. But I doubt it. Because Twitter says so.