The Ten Commandments of Oscar Watching


The Joker asked, “Why so serious?” Today, I ask, “Why so sour?”

Seriously, was Tom Hooper’s stewardship over Les Miserables so objectionable? Is a nomination from the Directors Guild of America—which, today, named Hooper one of the five Best Directors of 2012, alongside Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, and Steven Spielberg—that big a deal?

The online noise around the Oscar race is reaching critical mass, and the negativity around what should be a celebration of film is disheartening. Consider this a plea for pleasantness. A recipe for a happier, healthier Oscar season.

1.) Thou shalt watch the films
This one is simple and the easiest to follow. If you haven’t seen a film, you CAN’T criticize it or any nominations it might have earned. I don’t care how many cool kids dislike something, if you want to jump aboard the hate train, you have to fork over $10 for a ticket.

2.) Thou shalt be positively passionate
There’s nothing wrong with promoting a particular film or performance, especially if it’s something small. (Side note: You all should watch Sleepless Night.) But there’s a right way to do it…

3.) Thou shalt be passionately positive
Aren’t happy with the DGA nominations? Here’s a quick “do” tweet:

“Really wish #DGA recognized what a great job Tarantino did with Django Unchained. One of a great director’s very best films.”

And a “don’t” tweet:

“Tom Hooper STOLE a #DGA nomination from PTA. How could they be so STUPID?!?!?! I’m going to jump off a bridge.”

OK, see what went wrong here? Hooper didn’t steal anything. He was recognized by his peers for doing a good job. The DGA isn’t stupid for nominating him; They liked his work, and frankly, I guarantee they know more about directing than you do.

And don’t jump off a bridge. That won’t do anyone any good, and Hooper will still be nominated.

4.) Thou shalt not use the word “snub”
It means nothing—at least it doesn’t anymore. Is a snub something that you think just got left out? Or something you wanted to get in that didn’t?

Better ways to phrase:
—Would have been deserving
—My choice
—A great non-nominee


—The bridesmaid slot
—Just missed out
—If there were six nominees…

5.) Thou shalt tune out the noise
This one gets back to seeing the films. A film’s number of Oscar nominations shouldn’t have any effect on how you interpret it. Nor should internet backlash. Open your mind and praise/criticize a film based on its artistic merits and entertainment value.

6.) Thou shalt not assume thy’s favorite film is a good Oscar bet
Last year they were Shame and Drive—the films the Academy “missed the boat on,” the films whose omissions made steam come out of your ears. Guess what? Holy Motors isn’t getting nominated for anything this year. Neither is Cosmopolis. The Master probably isn’t getting a Best Picture nomination. Odds are Rachel Weisz misses out on Best Actress.

Dissuade yourself of the idea that everyone in the Academy likes the same movies as you. It’s a notion that turns rousing, good-natured debate into toxic nonsense.

7.) Thou shalt not use “Oscar-nominated” as a derisive adjective
Yes, Salt was included in the 2011 field for Sound Mixing. W.E. was a Best Costume Design nominee last year. And Norbit—dear God, Norbit—made the top three for Best Makeup in 2008. That doesn’t mean these were better films than X, Y, and Z that didn’t get any nominations. It just means they featured quality sound mixing, costume design, and makeup, respectively.

And when it comes to adding “Oscar nominee” in front of someone’s name, let them enjoy that title. Mocking Jonah Hill or Mo’Nique for the biggest achievement in their professional lives isn’t cool. It makes you sound like an ass.

8.) Thou shalt not tear down thy neighbor
Comment boards are nauseating. Don’t get sucked into a fight with a troll. It’s easy to do, but no one wins those fights.

9.) Thou shalt not pretend to know it all
“X film didn’t get a nomination from the Costumes Guild. That means it can’t win Best Editing.” Just stop. Trends are broken every year. Certainty makes you sound pompous, and it’s bound to lead either to an awkward mea culpa or an embarrassing “What I meant to say was…” moment.

10.) Thou shalt remember to breathe and put things in perspective
Why do you watch the Oscars? I do because it’s a celebration of film. To dwell on the negative would be to miss some wonderful moments. Don’t like Tom Hooper’s direction? Well, it gave us Anne Hathaway’s great performance. A positive spin can be put on anything, which isn’t to say you should shut up and drink the Academy’s Kool-Aid. But ugliness is unbecoming, and every year seems to bring Oscar trackers closer to a Peter-Finch-in-Network-esque meltdown. Are you as mad as hell? Can’t take it anymore? Remind yourself this is entertainment—not politics, medicine, or real moral quagmires. That’s not helping? Do everyone (including yourself) a favor and stop watching.

Share This Post


2 Responses to The Ten Commandments of Oscar Watching

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *