Being such a movie lover for so long this is usually the time of year when I start looking forward to the Oscars. I’ve never followed the red carpet aspect in any way, but I’ve had my favorites to root for when the envelopes were opened, and I liked the hosts for the most part.

This year? Not so much. And the reason for my reticence to get caught up in the whole thing is the abysmal choices for best picture for the last five years. The winners? “The King’s Speech”, “Hurt Locker”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “No Country for Old Men”, and “Departed”. I’ve talked to more than a few folks about these movies and I’m not in the minority — these pictures shouldn’t have garnered the top award.

I’m going to back up one step before pressing onward and say that “Slumdog” actually was considered a pretty good picture by most of the people I talked to — I guess it was my wife and I who disagreed. We walked out after about a half an hour. There were three reasons we did this: 1. the scene where the boy climbed down into the porta-potty, fished out a celebrity photo and emerged triumphant and covered with excrement. (Lovely). 2. The brutal murder of the boy’s mother in the first five minutes of the movie; 3. The constant, disturbing, demeaning, cruel treatment of the children. The reports we’ve gotten from others was that the end of the movie was uplifting, but there was no way we could make it that far.

So I was disappointed that “Slumdog” won, but I understood that maybe I was old-fashioned. But the others?

“Speech” is one of the slowest-paced films I’ve seen in recent years, and I belong to Netflix and watch lots of foreign films which are famous for being slow-paced. The actors were all top notch, but we all knew where the film was going so it was hard to be patient and watch the plot unfold: I just couldn’t keep my finger off the fast forward button! The only reason I could see that this film was the winner is that Hollywood has a love affair with English period pieces, and therefore they revel in the great costumes and sets and all the dirt on the royal family. I’m happy the king made it through the speech, but there has to be a better way to get there cinematically.

“Hurt Locker” should have sent waves of empathy through me as I witnessed the main character go through the terror of war and then the inability to re-assimilate to his life at home with his wife and child, but he was not a sympathetic figure in the least. I suppose the film could still have been of “best picture” quality even carried on the shoulders of such a dubious character, but 1. most of the film was shot with hand held cameras giving it a home movie quality; 2.many of the interiors were so poorly lit that it was difficult to see what was happening; and 3. the plot meandered.

“No Country” was beautifully shot, the acting was superb and the pace was terrific, but it took me three or four attempts before I could watch the whole thing. Why? It just seemed like another film of money and drugs and people getting killed every which way because of them. The message was so brutally dark I had trouble judging it as a film — I only ended up seeing the whole of it as we had HBO for a few months and I’d watch parts as it was shown and reshown three or four times a week. It’s hard for me to call something so negative “best” anything.

“Departed”? Did anyone really like that film? Wasn’t it only given the award because the Academy felt guilty for not having rewarded Scorcese earlier? More seedy characters in a shoot ’em up plot.

So you can see why I’m not getting too interested in Oscar season, or award season in general. I get the LA Times and the last five Sunday editions have included a section called “The Envelope” touting the upcoming awards, trying to pump up the excitement. And the  Golden Globes? How many people vote on those? Am I the only one feeling like someone wants to take me for a ride?

My “best pictures” for the last few years? “Juno” is one. “Chocolat” is another. How ’bout “Little Miss Sunshine”? “Lars and the Real Girl” was one of the most imaginative, funny and seriously touching films I’ve ever seen. In a month or so there’ll be another best picture. I suppose I’ll TiVo the program and hope there are some funny spots, but I have no interest in which film wins.

Weigh in with your favorites.

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