Home » Uncategorized » Watching the Oscars Does Not Make You a Film Critic – The Ethical Side of Movie Reviewing

Watching the Oscars Does Not Make You a Film Critic – The Ethical Side of Movie Reviewing

I saw a news article today that disturbed me. In summation, at least two of the judges for the Oscars voted for 12 Years a Slave without even watching it.

Am I saying 12 Years a Slave wasn’t a good movie? Hell no, in my opinion, it actually deserved to win. Of course, my opinion is more valid than those Oscar voters because I actually watched the fucking thing and developed an opinion.

best picture

What I’m saying is that to review a movie, call a movie good, and actually vote for the movie to win an award you should actually watch the damn thing.

I guess the reviewers decided not to view it, thinking that it might be a bit too violent for them. Here’s the deal, if you can’t handle violence, then you shouldn’t be reviewing movies in the first place. Movies should be reviewed based on an unbiased appraisal, regardless of their genre.

As one of the many hats I wear, I review films. In the past year or so, I’ve written 75 in depth reviews of various films, based on the actual merit of the movie.

I’m an action/documentary/comedy lover. Those are my preferred genres that I watch for my own entertainment. However, I don’t get to pick the movies I review. I might review a subtitled foreign film, an incredibly gory horror, or god fucking forbid, a romantic comedy.

Regardless of what genre I’m watching, I appraise five different points of the movie; plot, casting, effects, direction and musical score. I watch the movie, develop an opinion in all five areas, and then offer a review.

Here’s what I don’t do; I don’t give movies in genres I don’t like poor scores just because I don’t like the genre. On the flip side, not every action movie I watch gets a five out of five. Each film is reviewed based on its own merit, regardless of whether I would watch it for my own entertainment.

If I, as an incredibly low ranking movie reviewer, can do that, why the hell can’t someone who is responsible for awarding the biggest award in film do that?

Spewing out the same damn opinion as everyone else does not make you a film critic. Voting for 12 Years a Slave for best picture because you think it’s a ‘socially conscious’ move, does not make you a film critic. It just makes you a politically correct douchebag.

I work hard on my reviews, because I think that a valid, educated opinion matters. When I learn that someone has been given the incredible honor of having a voting share in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and then uses that power with the same enthusiasm as a bored tween being pressured to vote for the next American Idol, it makes me a little bit sick.  

I used to have a little bit of faith in the Oscars. I mean, it’s not the fucking Golden Globes, where you just buy your award. At the Oscars, you are supposed to earn your award. Nobody is earning an award when people toss out their votes because a hard hitting movie offends their delicate sensibilities. The Oscars aren’t about liberal guilt. They are about giving awards when people make good movies.

I’m very glad that 12 Years a Slave won, and not because I thinks it’s socially conscious, or even because  Chiwetel Ejiofor played “The Operative” in Serenity. It was just a good movie. I said so months ago, when I actually watched it the week it came out. Watch me quote myself like a douchebag;

If (Chiwetel Ejiofor) doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar for his performance, I can only assume someone in the nominations office has brain damage.

Yeah bitches, I called that shit months ago, before that Best Actor Oscar was even a twinkle in Matthew McConaughey’s eye (can’t argue that. Dallas Buyers Club was fantastic as well). You know how I created that amazing magic trick, to be able to predict who would be nominated and who was worthy of an award?

I actually watched the god damn movie and formulated an opinion based on Ejiofor’s performance…DESPITE the fact that this is a genre (drama) that I don’t usually watch. I didn’t flinch away because I was sure the movie would be violent and depressing. I watched it because it is my fucking job to watch the movies assigned to me and formulate real opinions on them.

To the reviewers who handed over the Oscar without watching the movie, shame on you. If you couldn’t handle reviewing the possible candidates, it was not your place to phone in your votes. It was your place to recuse yourself from the decision and pass it off to someone who could friggen handle it.

If you want to read a real review from someone who actually watched the film, you can find my review of 12 Years a Slave here. In addition, if you want a review from someone who actually pays attention to the movies she is reviewing, feel free to check out my reviews here.




4 thoughts on “Watching the Oscars Does Not Make You a Film Critic – The Ethical Side of Movie Reviewing

  1. Yeah, that is a pretty bullshit move. While I didnt think 12 Years as a whole was great, I agree that Ejiofor was. And I didn’t watch nearly enough of the nominees to have a strong opinion. Haha, but geezus, the panel of the Acadmey of MOTION PICTURE Arts and Sciences’s main job is to watch the goddamn MOTION PICTURES. It’s so stupid simple, I don’t know whether to laugh or just facepalm.

    And then I remember that the awards season is just a bunch of film and tv people circlejerking one another.

    • I know right? Call me an idealist, but I have always had faith in the Oscars. There has literally never been an Oscar winning film since the 1940s that I didn’t watch and appreciate. But when I find out that these voters are whoring themselves out and phoning it in, it just pisses me off. I mean, if they don’t want to watch the fucking movies, lets someone who truly loves movies do it instead. God knows there is enough of us out there and our opinions would be a hell of a lot more valid.

  2. The Oscars are really just a glorified popularity contest. Out of 5 people in one of the acting categories, let’s say, how is just one better than the others? Katherine Hepburn won 4 Best Leading Actress Oscars, but I never thought she was that great of an actress. Unlike Meryl Streep, you could tell it was Hepburn. Streep, on the other hand, always disappears into her roles.

    I remember when Lou Gossett Jr. won for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” 2 of his fellow nominees, James Mason and John Lithgow, behaved like total assholes after the awards ceremonies. You could tell they were pissed off because they didn’t win. In some ways, I still can’t believe Russell Crowe won Best Actor for “Gladiator” from 2000.

    For 2005, “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp” won Best Song. For 2013, “Bad Grandpa” received a nomination for Makeup. Were they serious? A rap song about pimps and a movie by the producers of “Jackass” are considered art? That’s just bullshit! And, more proof the Oscars don’t really have that “integrity” they mention every year.

    There are countless movies and performers that are never nominated for Oscars, but they’re 10 times better than some of the winners and nominees. People often don’t remember if a movie won any awards, but they always remember if they liked it. And, that’s the only thing that matters.

  3. I swore off awards a very long time ago. I rely upon independent reviewers though. Rarely do I disagree with the assessment of an independent reviewer and for just the reasons you have stated.

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