Lessons from the Oscars

Last night was the 86th Academy Awards and, like every year, I try and see as many of the nominees as I can to correctly predict the Oscar’s winners and losers.

That did not happen this year.

I wasn’t even close to having an accurate winner’s list. I didn’t even break double digits. I wasn’t even close to having an accurate loser’s list – that’s how poorly I did.

My 11-week-old puppies probably had a better Oscar pool than I did, and they can’t even sit still long enough to watch “Gravity.”

Last year I did fairly well. I think I got about 13-14 categories right. Hell, in 2012 I think I only lost on the shorts and the foreign documentaries, but this year it was just pathetic and slightly embarrassing. As the night concluded with me yelling one more “God damn it!” as my reluctant Best Picture choice wasn’t called (I went with American Hustle over my favorite of Gravity, although if I had seen Her that would’ve been my dark horse), I decided to review where my process (or lack thereof) went so wrong so quickly.  

1.) Best Pictures. I didn’t even bother seeing more than half of the Best Pictures nominees, which would turn out to be my greatest downfall. Of the nine nominees, I saw three of them; one-third of nine excellent movies, that’s all I bothered with this year. I had every intention of seeing at least two more prior to last night, but apathy and lethargy got the better of me. Instead, I just read synopsis of the ones I was really interested in and made my decisions based on that. Wikipedia entries and Entertainment Weekly round-ups do not equate to experiencing the movie first hand. Lesson: Even if you have zero interest in some of the Best Pictures nominees, make the effort and see them anyway. It’s better to lose some time than to be monumentally wrong.

2.) Research. In addition to seeing next to nil of the Best Picture nominees, I barely did any research beforehand and was wildly guessing during the roll call of the nominees. The irritating thing is that I was so focused on being irrelevant rather than being right, I would change my guess at the last second. Then a fearsome “God damn it!” would echo in my house, like it was a celestial being’s fault that I couldn’t focus long enough to keep my choice. My instinct was right 80 percent of the time, but my stupid mouth wouldn’t listen. Lesson: Follow your gut instinct on the categories you know little about. It’s how I got Cinematography and Costume Design right while missing Makeup and Hairstyling and Music (Original Score).   

3.) The “Golden” Rule. I made the amateur mistake of following the “Well, if they won the Golden Globe chances are they’ll win the Oscar” rule, which was only true for about five categories (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Animated Feature Film). In the past, that’s actually a pretty solid method to making more accurate predictions. However, there were actors and actress who weren’t nominated at the Golden Globes that won that little golden statue, and considering that the Golden Globes have two Best Picture categories (Drama and Comedy/Musical), it renders future predictions moot. Lesson: Use the Golden Globes as a reference tool, but do not rely on them for all of your choices because friggin’ Gravity will beat you down (pun intended).

4.) Internet Influence. I partially blame the Internet for influencing more than it should’ve this year. I like Leonardo DiCaprio. I think he’s a consistent actor and I enjoy him in almost all of his roles. However, just because the Internet is gung-ho on him winning an Oscar doesn’t mean I have to follow. It’s the Objective vs. Subjective argument that causes a lot of grief among movie fans. “Damn, I love Jennifer Lawrence, but I can’t get behind her performance in American Hustle. Oh well, she’s adorable and I’m madly in love with her, so I’m just going to pick her.” That’s a terrible way to live your life and even worse way to win your Oscar pool. Lesson: Unless you’re 100 percent certain that your favorite actor/actress is going to win and the Internet can provide some valuable, unbiased support for it, don’t even bother checking off their name. It’ll just leave you weeping in the corner.

5.) Time Management. I feel like I’m back peddling and repeating myself, but I really need to nail this point home. Every Best Picture nominee was playing in my area. Every Best Actor and Actress nominee was playing in a relatively short distance from my house. I work at a midway point between most of the art house theaters that would’ve been playing them. I have friends who would’ve loaned me their movies or given me links to watch them online. What did I do instead? I started watching Supernatural and the Olympics and barely went the movies. (Although I did see The LEGO Movie, twice.)  Lesson: If you want to consider yourself a movie buff, actually make time for the damn cinema and not just the mindless, brightly colored movies you want to see after having an extremely stressful day at work.

So really, what’s the big takeaway from all of this?

–          Like most things in life, being right isn’t the same as being lucky. Proper research and analysis will give you the edge in making accurate predictions.

–          If you truly love something, you’ll make time for it. Your opinion is your own, so don’t let others influence it.  

–          There’s always next year to try and win your Oscar pool.

Now, I’m going to watch all the Best Pictures nominations and see if they really did make the right choice.

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About ryantpoole

Ryan T Poole is a former broadcast public relations specialist and morning show producer. His time is spent updating this blog, watching and analyzing TV and movies, reading, listening to music, taking care of his pets, and refocusing his energy into more productive outlets. He likes cold coffee, hot tea, long conversations, and obscure references.

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