Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dear Oscar pundit whiners

Why, oh why, do you continually complain about how predictable an Oscar race is? Your job, ESPECIALLY if you work for a site that focuses on the Oscars, is to look at all the factors that go into who gets nominated and who wins in the attempt to figure this out in advance. To make educated guesses in the hopes of being vindicated by the results.

No one reads your Oscar predictions because they want to know what you think SHOULD happen. They want to know what you think WILL happen. If someone truly wants to be surprised by nominations and winners, I'd suggest they not follow the race too closely. The Oscars are just like anything else - the more you know, the more you investigate, the less likely you are to get something you're not expecting. Someone who doesn't obsessively follow all the critics and guild awards has no idea what to expect on February 2, much less March 7 (nomination day and awards night, respectively, for you Oscar non-wonks who might be reading). Many of these people love following the Oscars and the nominations, just not the now exhaustive lineup of precursor awards.

I've been an avid follower of the Oscars since 1991. Since 1995, I've either been up watching the announcements live or (more recently, as websites got faster about putting them up) refreshing my internet browser to see the Golden Globe and Oscar noms as soon as they become public. Since those early years, I've become more in tune with things like momentum and backlash and overhype and all the ingredients, political and precursory, that go into those lists of nominees and winners. Yet instead of bemoaning predictability, I feel a nice sense of calm going into the awards season, having gained through the course of the long prediction game a fairly balanced, realistic look at what might actually happen, as opposed to pinning all my hopes on something that doesn't have the odds in its favor. I don't know if this is why other people follow such things, but it's why I do.

It frustrates, nay, angers me to see posts like this, and the comments that go with them, complaining about how "safe" the guild choices (or whatever we're whining about this week) are. The whole reason you look at something like the Directors Guild nominees is because you want to know/confirm - especially in this possibly less predictable Year Of The Ten - who the frontrunners are for Director and Picture Oscars. Right? It's not an earnest and singular curiousity about this body's opinion, completely divorced from its place in the Oscar race. If it were, you wouldn't be yammering about all the "frontrunners" who were deemed ineligible for the Writers Guild awards. You can look forward to the unpredictability of the WGAs all you want, but you know as well as anyone else that the absence of so many of the established frontrunners makes it fairly useless as a tool for predicting the Oscars.

So yeah, the DGA went with what you already guessed were the "frontrunners." Go you! You're one step closer to having been right about Oscar night! Yet instead of being happy about this, you moan about the predictability of the race.

Sweethearts, if you don't like predictability, you should really get out of the predicting business. Because, again like many things, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Excuse me if I don't pat you on the head and say "Poor thing" for doing exactly what I expect you to do when I read your articles.

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