The Academy spreads Oscar wealth

Last night marked the eight-fifth year of the Academy Awards, with Ben Affleck’s Argo taking home the Oscar for Best Picture. The ceremony had its first tie (Best Sound Editing for Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty) since 1994, and just the sixth tie in Oscar history. The tie was just one of the many Oscar history rarities included in last night’s ceremony.

Argo was the presumed favorite for Best Picture after overtaking Lincoln in the last few weeks before the show, and it won. However, besides Best Picture, Argo only captured two other awards, for Original Screenplay and Editing. While that’s nothing to slouch at, it is interesting how much the Academy spread the Oscars around this year. Check out this year’s breakdown:

Life of Pi: 4 (director, cinematography, visual effects, original score)
Argo: 3 (picture, editing, original screenplay)
Les Miserables: 3 (supporting actress, make-up and hairstyling, sound mixing)
Lincoln: 2 (actor, production design)
Django Unchained: 2 (original screenplay, supporting actor)
Amour: 1 (foreign language)
Silver Linings Playbook: 1 (actress)
Zero Dark Thirty: 1 (sound editing)
Beasts of the Southern Wild- 0

Since the Academy changed its Best Picture format from five nominees to ten in 2009, there have been one or two films that take the majority of the awards and four films (all three years) who have gotten shut out with zero awards. Here’s a breakdown of those years:

*Best Picture Winner

*Hurt Locker: 9
Avatar: 3
Precious: 2
Up: 2
Inglourious Basterds: 1
The Blind Side: 1
Up in the Air: 0
District 9: 0
An Education: 0
A Serious Man: 0

*King’s Speech: 4
Inception: 4
Social Network: 3
The Fighter: 2
Toy Story 3: 2
Black Swan: 1
True Grit: 0
127 Hours: 0
The Kids Are All Right: 0
Winter’s Bone: 0

*The Artist: 5
Hugo: 5
The Descendants: 1
The Help: 1
Midnight in Paris: 1
Moneyball: 0
War Horse: 0
The Tree of Life: 0
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: 0

Although Argo won Best Picture, it failed to win the most Oscars of the night as Life of Pi won four awards. This has not happened since 2004, when The Aviator won five awards and Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby only won four. Argo also became just the second Best Picture winner since 1977 to win only three total Oscars, joining 2005’s Crash. Both Crash and Argo failed to win any acting Academy Awards. The similarities do not end there. The last time that the Best Director and Best Picture awards were not given to the same film was also in 2005. You might be asking, well who won Best Director in 2005 then? The same guy who won last night, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi director, Ang Lee. Hmmm, interesting.

Whether or not the Academy got their choices right is debatable every year, however this year’s results have validated their choice to have more than five nominees for Best Picture. If four nominees are getting zero awards each year then there are too many nominees. However, this year was first time since the switch that only one Best Picture nominee got shut out from awards. While no film is all together perfect, nearly all of the Best Picture nominees had aspects about them that were deemed Oscar worthy, something not seen since the change. This does not speak to Argo’s weaknesses necessarily, but rather the depth and diversity of this year’s Best Picture nominees. The Academy was not shy about spreading the Oscar love this year, except to Steven Spielberg, who is now 2/7 in Best Director nominations, and 1/8 in Best Picture nominations, making him (statistically) one of the biggest losers in Oscar history. Something tells me that Spielberg’s four going on five (five?!) decades of dominating Hollywood is a nice consolation.

Just when you thought it was safe to watch a shark movie.

Anyone who has ever had a conversation about film with me probably knows that my favorite movie of all time is Jaws (1975). I could go into a long detailed explanation as to why it is my favorite, but I am not going to do that.  Jaws was the first major film about a shark and its success at the box office and critical reception has never been close to being equaled. The sequels tried and completely failed. While, Jaws 2 (1978) has one of the best taglines ever (“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”) and hung on to Roy Schieder to reprise his role of Chief Brody it failed on many levels. It was successful at the box office mostly feeding off the success of the first one but it’s not nearly as good of a movie without Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. However, because of Jaws 2’s success at the box office the studio felt they needed to try sharks in 3-D so they put out Jaws 3-D (1983), which once again was a disaster of a movie even with a young budding star in Dennis Quiad. And yet, none of the previous three could have prepared audiences for the atrocious Jaws: The Revenge (1987). The basic idea of this film (at least as far as I am concerned) is that another great white shark arrives in Amity and kills Danny Brody (Chief Brody’s son) then follows Ellen Brody (Chief Brody’s wife) when she goes down to the Bahamas to visit her other son, Michael. Allow this idea to sink in. Crazy, I know.

Each of these movies declined in quality after the original. Why? It is not due to lack of budget as the original Jaws had a measly eight million dollar budget (around thirty-four million in today’s world), which is nothing, compared to big-budget action films of the present. Perhaps it is because no one wanted to challenge the greatness of the original film. How could anyone truly duplicate its success? Instead in the 35 years or so since Jaws, audiences have had to bare witness to one horrible shark film after another. Even looking outside of the Jaws saga there is nothing really out there except for poorly done, low budget films like Shark Attack (1999) and Meglaodon (2002) and all of their terrible sequels. And sure Deep Blue Sea (1999) is a larger budget studio film that is thrilling and fun, but it is not a good movie. I’ve seen Deep Blue Sea many times and yes it is entertaining but mostly for how ridiculous it is. Why would anyone under any circumstances make sharks smarter? The answer is they wouldn’t for fear the sharks would turn on them and eat them, which is (you guessed it) exactly what happens. However, Deep Blue Sea does get points for having Ladies Love Cool James (LL Cool J) as a black guy who survives a horror movie. Will there ever be a good Shark movie again? Probably not.

Here are a few terrible shark movie scenes:

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. How were the filmmakers able to keep a straight face while editing this?

Jaws 3-D. This scene could not have looked good even in 3-D.

Jaws: The Revenge. Wait, is that shark roaring?

Deep Blue Sea. Samuel L. Jackson making a big speech everything is going to be fine, right? Nope.