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The Carroll News

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Keim Time: the Oscars don’t matter (except when they do)

Jackie Keim
Winner of the 2023 Academy Award for Best Picture, “Everything Everywhere all at Once,” gives Brian Keim conflicted feelings on the award show.

As someone who can loosely be described as a friendly neighborhood film buff, the early months of the year have recently begun to take on a new significance for me. With the ceremony for the Academy Awards in March and the long buildup leading up to the night, there are a lot of reasons for all kinds of movie enjoyers to be excited. Though I know about the shadiness that goes on behind the scenes of the Oscars, I can’t help but feel conflicted about the awards; I’m simultaneously disgusted and hopelessly invested with this annual event. Those feelings are what I hope to elucidate in this piece.

I’ll start with the facet of the Academy Awards that come to my mind most often: the dark side. To make a long story short (Adam Conover explains it in more detail), Oscars are not won with talent or artistry. They are won with bribery, campaigning and corruption.

To me, this fact is most apparent in the category of Best Animated Feature. The award was created in 2001 and given to Dreamworks Animation’s loveable freak of nature “Shrek.” Since then, however, 15 of the 23 awards have been given to a film owned by Disney, whether it be from Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar. Of course, these studios have a history of making wonderful movies, many of which deserve to win the award– you will never find me disputing the artistic merit of “The Incredibles” or “Ratatouille.” However, when looking at specifics, some nonsense becomes exceedingly apparent.

In 2015, the award for Best Animated Feature went to Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” a perfectly fine movie toward which I have no strong feelings, positive or negative. However, in winning this Oscar, it beat out “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” which is the single most beautiful and artistically rich film I have ever seen. If anyone has seen both films and legitimately prefers “Big Hero 6,” I won’t say they’re wrong, but I will recommend a great psychiatric hospital.

Everything thus far has gotten to one core idea: the Oscars suck. They really suck. I personally don’t think art even should be judged in a manner claiming to be objective, but the Academy does a particularly poor job of doing this already fruitless activity. With that being said, why do I care? Why did I wake up early on Jan. 23 to see the 2024 Academy Award nominations announced live? Why do I still plan to watch the ceremony this year? Because, regardless of how it comes to be, some people deserve a win.

I have not been invested in film discourse for very long, but I was able to watch last year’s Academy Awards live, which was an incredible experience. Since I had actually watched a good number of the films that had been nominated, I could root for my favorites and rejoice when they won. Conveniently, my favorite film of that year was “Everything Everywhere all at Once,” which just so happened to win seven awards, including the unparalleled Best Picture.

Watching that ceremony changed my view on the Oscars. I finally understood why people got so invested in this show year after year. Seeing Ke Huy Quan get overwhelmed with emotion while accepting his well-deserved award for Best Supporting Actor, or watching Michelle Yeoh make history for her award— basically, every time “Everything Everywhere” won an award— made me see the true power of the Oscars: recognition.

Regardless of what people like myself think of the awards, the Oscars are of great importance to the public eye. Not every winner of every award goes down in history, but overall, they carry a metric truckload of significance. There’s a reason why DVD covers boast whenever the film even gets a nomination. There’s a reason why movie trailers proudly state that it stars an Academy Award-winning performer. There’s a reason why films that win Best Picture never quite escape the public eye. Whether or not they deserve it, the Oscars have weight.

That’s why I still care. I know the system is broken and that award ceremonies can’t possibly measure the subjective beauty of film, but I love seeing people get the notoriety they deserve, becoming a certified part of film history, however small. No matter what happens, I still plan to watch the Academy Awards every year. Because you never know who might get their chance in the spotlight.

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About the Contributor
Brian Keim
Brian Keim, Campus Editor
Brian Keim is the Campus Editor for The Carroll News, hailing from Medina, Ohio. He is a sophomore at John Carroll University, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and minoring in communications with a concentration in digital media.
Often referred to as a “person” who “exists,” Brian is also involved in the JCU Improv Troupe and Blue Streaks on the Run. In his free time he allegedly considers film-watching and book-reading to be two activities that are enjoyable as well as life-changing, if you know where to look.
To request biased film opinions, haphazard Academy Award predictions, or otherwise contact Brian Keim, he can be reached at [email protected]

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