Blog: News & Views

Do Oscar voters hate movies about movies?

By Tom O'Neil
Feb 13 2012 15:00 pm

Very curious: Movies about 3D space aliens and animated giant green ogres never win Best Picture at the Oscars. Those flicks sell the most tickets at the box office, granted, but academy members -- snobs who get too much fantasy on the job every day -- prefer their award-crowned movies to be real.

They like flicks about reluctant British monarchs with a stutter ("The King's Speech") and the Iraqi war ("The Hurt Locker"). They just don't like them to be about one thing: movies.

It's weird, but no movie about making movies has ever won Best Picture. More than 25 of the 84 winners of the top Oscar have been about war. Most champs featured romance. Several were even about show business: three about Broadway ("All About Eve," "The Great Ziegfeld," "Broadway Melody") and one about the circus ("Greatest Show on Earth").

But voters seem to have a grudge against movies about Hollywood. While a few like "Sunset Boulevard" have managed to get nominated for Best Picture, others – even masterpieces like Judy Garland's "A Star Is Born" – were snubbed.

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Now, suddenly, this year it looks like one will finally prevail: "The Artist" has overwhelming odds (9 to 10) from the Oscarologists at Gold Derby.

Why is it the exception?

Probably for three reasons:

1.) It's a novelty act irresistible to the cynics in the academy who want their votes to be special. Nothing like hurling your support behind a black-and-white silent film that has limited financial potential.

2.) This film about how Hollywood was devastated by the advent of sound in the 1920s has eerie parallels to the challenges facing the town today by the Internet and 3D.

3.) It's a great movie loved by critics who give it an impressive rank of 89 at Metacritic.

This year another film about filmmaking, "Hugo," is nominated for Best Picture and even leads with the most nominations (12), but it only has 9-to-1 odds to win at Gold Derby.

Below, how other Hollywood films have fared at Oscars past:

"All That Jazz"
"The Aviator"
"Kiss of the Spiderwoman"
"A Star Is Born" (1937 version starring Fredric March and Janet Gaynor)
"Sunset Boulevard"

"8 1/2"
"Barton Fink"
"California Suite"
"Day of the Locust"
"Ed Wood"
"Gods and Monsters"
"Inside Daisy Clover"
"The Oscar"
"The Player"
"Purple Rose of Cairo"
"Singing in the Rain"
"The Stunt Man"
"A Star Is Born" (1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason)
"Sweet Bird of Youth"
"The Way We Were"

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