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My Thoughts on Your Oscar Thoughts

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“Well, at least Tom Hooper is hopefully crying somewhere.”

That tweet was the nadir of what’s been an awfully frustrating day for this cinephile. I know it’s too much to ask that, instead of complaining, we celebrate things like the surprise nominations of art-house hero Michael Haneke and first-time director Benh Zeitlin—not to mention the trio of large-and-in-charge performances from The Master—but to actively wish sadness on a person who simply tried his best to make a good movie? That’s low—and low on a human level. Shame on you.

He/she was only one of many trolls out in full force this morning. It was positively overwhelming. I’ve been practically begging for someone to give me a good reason why bitching and moaning about Oscar nominations and “snubs” should be acceptable, and I haven’t heard one yet.

Top ten lists exist for a reason, after all. It’s our chance to heap praise upon our favorite artistic visions in a given year. The Academy Awards are simply top ten lists (OK, top five, three, and nine lists) given by a group of people. Do you, cinephiles, need validation that what you liked is actually good? Have some confidence in your tastes, and remember, the unacknowledged don’t have to be forgotten, and the acknowledged don’t necessarily have to endure. It’s all what you make of it.

I love the Oscars. I really do. It’s a chance to celebrate movies and think about certain films in new, interesting ways. Take Moneyball, for instance. It earned a Best Film Editing nomination last year much to my bewilderment. Was it really one of the year’s best-edited films? I watched it again, noting the editing, and it simply blew me away.

My point is we shouldn’t tear down to raise up. It’s ugly behavior. Use your voice to champion something worthy, but don’t do it at the expense of someone or something else. And if you really want to criticize (I’m all about honest criticism), make it about the movie. Then, we can have an enlightened, civil debate.

Another thing: “Undeserving?” That word has no place in awards discussion. I get it. It takes too many words to say what you really mean—that a particular nomination isn’t something that necessarily falls in line with your artistic tastes—but you’re doing the English language and art as big a disserve as you are your reputation by calling an Oscar nominee “undeserving.”

We need a new word for those of you who insist on inserting your own thoughts into something like this. So I’m inventing one. It will henceforth be defined as “a film, performance, or craft achievement that earned recognition from a body of professionals but that I, a rando with an opinion and a URL, have artistic qualms with.”

This new word is “hackapple.” Its adjectival form is “hackapleptic.” Use them well.

Note: This is the first of many planned posts in my crusade for Oscar civility. Agree about the nature of the Oscar discussion? Join me.

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