Awards make the search a little easier for us every year, not because the winners are guaranteed to be great or suit our taste, no, but because the award nominees narrow down the field for us to look through. All the nominees for awards are going to be worth watching or reading regardless of whether they suit our particular taste. The winner is not important because the winner is rarely the film or book we would have chosen, but if you search through the nominees there is bound to be something of interest or to your taste.
Most of the time the film that I like the best does not win the Academy Award for best picture but it will inevitably win some awards for things that are important to me, like Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Editing, Art Direction and Directing.
Last year my favorite film lost to The Hurt Locker. Now while I liked The Hurt Locker and felt it was definitely a good film worth watching I did not think it was better than or as big of an achievement in film making as Avatar was. That award year was very similar to the award year of 1977 when the largest achievement in film making history Star Wars lost out to an ordinary low key, low budget Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall. While I like Annie Hall, it’s a fun film, it has definitely not had the impact and achieved the huge cult status among film goers and film makers and changed the film industry the way that Star Wars has.
There were other great films nominated last year like Up and Up in the Air which are also some of my favorites now. Up I would have seen anyway because I’m a fan of Pixar and Animation in general but Up in the Air I probably would not have noticed if not for the Award nominations it got. And it was a really cool film, far better than I expected.
2008 was one of the few years where my favorite film actually also won the Academy Award for best Picture. The other films were of course all very good but I probably would not have seen any of them if not for the nominations they got. But Slumdog Millionaire was definitely the stand out achievement that year and I was happy they won.
Slumdog was also the most awarded film I had ever seen, winning at every other award ceremony going, and not just for best Picture but also for Direction, Screenwriting, Cinematography, Music and Editing. This film just could not be stopped. It was a real Cinderella story.
Most other years though are not like that. Some years I don’t really like any of the nominated films. 2007 for example was the year the most critically acclaimed film, No Country for Old Men, actually won the Academy Award but most of the rest of us, regular film goers did not like that film. I think that most people preferred Juno but in that case the small budget comedy did not win over the bigger film.
The year that The Departed won the Academy Award I thought that Babel deserved it more, and it was definitely the better film and bigger achievement in film making. Babel is now one of my favorite films made by one of the best directors working today, Alejandro González Iñárritu. If not for the nomination it received, I may not have noticed it, at least not right away.
The Queen was the other big achievement that was also nominated in the same year. I was very pleasantly surprised at how good it was when I saw it for the first time. And that’s a film that I probably would not have bothered with had it not been for the best picture nomination.
Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima was another excellent film that was nominated in the same year.
There are some years that my favorite films are not even nominated but the nominees are always worth checking out. You’re bound to find a gem in there even if it doesn’t actually win the Award.