here’s a good take on the whack-ademy awards from gadfly magazine’s contributing editor nat whilk:

Anyone who studies film and takes it seriously must have grave questions about the merits of the Academy Awards. First and foremost, the Academy continually ignores the best films made—that is, independent films—and routinely nominates Hollywood pap, such as Erin Brockovich. The really innovative films, such as Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, receive little, if any, attention, as do most films of this ilk (see Gadfly’s ten top films of 2000, March/April 2001). Thus, by and large, the best filmmakers do not receive the attention they deserve. In this way, the Hollywood elite maintains control of which films receive recognition and, therefore, which films the public sees.

This means that when award time rolls around, things can appear a bit wacky. For example, Gladiator was definitely the best of the five films nominated and deserved the best picture award. But think about this: how could Gladiator be the best picture and receive the best actor award but fail to earn the Oscar for best director? Obviously, the only way that this makes any sense is that the Academy was merely spreading its awards around. So, once again, Ridley Scott, one the best directors alive, does not get his just reward.

The big hoot this year was that Julia Roberts received the Oscar for best actress for Erin Brockovich. Ellen Burstyn, in Requiem for a Dream, gave one of the best performances of any actor of all time. Unfortunately, Burstyn was in an independent film and, although the Academy nominated her, she didn’t stand a chance from the git-go. As a result, a meat-and-potatoes actress like Roberts, who in Erin Brockovich was merely “pretty woman” with a vengeance, walks away with the prize. Fortunately, there are some people who still have a bit of rationality about them because Burstyn did receive the best actress award at the Independent Spirits Awards, which took place several days before Oscar night.

Sadly, this travesty will continue. As a result, many fine filmmakers, cinematographers, writers and actors will never be recognized. This stinks, but there isn’t much we little folks can do about it—except crowd the theaters and watch the excellent independent films that are being made. That is, if we can find them in our local theaters.

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