Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Fever: A Reflection on Artistic Authority

Very early this morning, the Academy Award nominations were announced for the 2007 year of films.  I must admit, I am impressed with the nominations, mostly because my favorite film of last year is in the running for best picture. (If you still haven't seen Juno, you probably should, as you are missing out on a beautiful film and a great conversation starter).

All of the hype of the Golden Globes and Oscars has recently caused me to ask myself this question: who decides the value of a film?  This question could be asked for all types of art in general, but film in particular has more awards ceremonies with more red carpet and publicity than any other art form.  I have to ask myself, how much authority will I give to the members of the Academy in deciding which film I should value most?  They get to decide which film goes down in history with the Oscar statue. But which film is the one that causes my emotions to stir, captures my imagination, and leaves me reflecting upon its beauty long after I've left the theater? Many important films from last year were left off the Academy's list; are those films now less important than they were before?  What about the directors, writers, and actors that created these films? Will their opinions on their film be affected by an awards ceremony?

It seems there needs to be a balance of listening to the film critics and connoisseurs and listening to our own emotions and thoughts in finding value in art. The critics can offer intelligent insight about a work of art, pointing out nuances and aspects the casual eye may have missed. But if our own thoughts and emotions are left unstirred--or left disgusted--by a piece of art, then the critic's authority is trumped by our own set of values. It is hard to convince someone that art has meaning or value when one is left unmoved.  I am finding myself eager to hear the opinions of intelligent films critics. I am also equally eager to find my own voice and set of values in understanding film as art.

I am excited to see the results of the Oscars on February 24. Now I just have to find time to see the 3 Best Picture nominees I haven't seen yet!


  1. man joel, i am so much more of a book reader- but you have been really motivating me with your film reviews. i have been putting together lists of what i want to see. thanks! =)

  2. You are welcome. Glad that my film ramblings are doing some good!