A few weeks ago the nominations for the 2006 Academy Awards were announced and I was not the least bit surprised to find that, once again, I’ve only seen a fraction of the films. I guess I’m just not that interested in cinema, although I do like movies.
There is a difference. Brokeback Mountain is cinema, while Grandma’s Boy is a movie. I happen to own Grandma’s Boy .
This year I’ve seen exactly one of the movies up for Best Picture, Little Miss Sunshine , which is one more than I’ve seen in any of the past two years. For the record, I also waited until it came out on DVD.
It’s not that I’m immune to great films. I just don’t have endless amounts of free time to spend at the theatre or on the couch, and with the time I do have I’d rather be entertained than provoked, upset, or shocked into deep thought by whatever I’m watching. In that vein, I’ll freely admit that Schindler’s List was a great and important film, but I will never watch it a second time and I definitely would never own it.
A friend once told me that the true test of movie greatness lies in one simple question: now that you’ve seen it once, would you ever own it?
I would never own Crash or Munich or Brokeback Mountain or Capote or Good Night, and Good Luck , all five nominated for Best Picture in 2005. I do however own Zoolander , Strange Brew and Ghostbusters (autographed by Dan Akroyd himself — thanks Brew!), among others. I own mostly comedies, but then I read too many factual newspaper stories every day to ever find depressing fictional movies appealing.
I don’t think that I’m alone in thinking that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is maybe a little too ivory tower in its annual selection of nominees, preferring films that are far too melancholy for the average person that is just looking for some simple entertainment. With the exception of Little Miss Sunshine , comedies very rarely get noticed by the Academy, while tragedies like the miserable Million Dollar Baby , or any of the countless movies released where the lead character dies in the end, are considered art.