When I first began the BAM Awards as a rebellious fifteen-year-old I was reacting to the lack of consideration and inclusion of films I connected with in the awards without fully understanding the machinations of Awards Season and Hollywood in general. While there would be some way-off-the-beaten-path selections in my nominations over the years, there’d be some and some Academy-friendly films too.
The BAM Awards have not changed much in that regard, pandemic not withstanding. However, the valley between the general public and the Academy grows larger every year. Part of this is attributable to the increased fragmentation of the moviegoing public. Despite all the blockbusters not many films are cultural touchstones anymore. Most modest studio films, arthouse films, and streaming service premiers fall by the wayside. The touchstones now are agreeable popcorn-films, some better than others, few and far between meet mass critical appeal—and so many fall within the oversaturated realm of the superhero film that any chance of the Academy including them in serious award categories is slim to none (and Slim is usually out riding an atomic bomb).
What the Academy, and the public at large are faced with, is an unsolvable conundrum, one that’s been inevitable since the Awards’ inception: the Oscars were created by the Academy as a marketing tool. That marketing pull is still there and their choices have aligned with the commercial/mass appeal on occasion, but far less so since the end of the Studio System. With the fall of the Studio System fragmentation began and the virtually unknown award darlings came to be.
More viewing options and films exacerbate that divide and have left the Academy flailing for ways to make the telecast more appealing and drive up the almighty ratings. One of those attempts has led to the further consternation of the public. The expansion of Best Picture to up to 10 films, was a fine idea in theory. It was that way for many years. One problem became that the expansion came with a changed voting system that allows divisive films to springboard into Best Picture because first-place votes weigh heavily. This allowed Don’t Look Up to be a Best Picture nominee this year despite it’s 53% Rotten Tomatoes and 49% Metacritic scores; as many people loving it as loathing it vaulted it into a nomination. The ranked Best Picture voting has also led to some wonderful surprised like Parasite getting nominated and winning, and Drive My Car this year. This is something that pleases film people more than the general public though.
For the general public the Academy decided to ditch hosts then bring them back, and not just one but three, which I’m sure won’t waste any time.
And what else, oh yeah, there will also be a live performance of a song that’s not even nominated! If we didn’t nominate “We don’t talk about Bruno,” how about we not sing his song?
The bit that got me the most furious that got me writing this and to conduct my own little counterprotest. The Oscars, after dumping lifetime achievement awards from the live broadcasts years ago, decided to present certain awards an hour early and splice in a soundbite in from the winner in the live (read “real”) broadcast. Among these categories is Best Editing, one of the most important things in film and an indicator of who will likely win Best Picture.
So, in that spirit when I post the BAM winners later today (tomorrow?) and, in the interest of time only the winner. If you happen to be curious about why certain decisions were made, I’ll respond with a soundbite. Enjoy!