The Academy voters have always been thought of as the old stuffy crowd who are influenced by the wining and dining from the studios(The Academy has limited the parties this year). It all makes it into a popularity contest where the best is not really voted for. The critics are known to vote with their heart and choose the better films. The Academy tends to vote for the obvious “Oscar bait” movies. Last year was a great example. All three major critic awards, National Board of Review, Los Angeles and New York critics chose THE SOCIAL NETWORK as Best Picture, but THE KING’S SPEECH won the Oscar. SOCIAL NETWORK really is the better movie, but THE KING’S SPEECH has all of the Oscar ingredients.THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a lot more hip than THE KING’S SPEECH. Most years though the winners of the most critic awards go on to get Oscar nominations.
Some critics say that they don’t have any influence on the Oscars and don’t want any part of their decisions. In reality they have a huge influence. There is no better way to keep a film in the race than giving it a critic award. Many Oscar contenders will fall off the map this year when they don’t get any love from the critics. As Sasha Stone points out, what better way to promote your film than to have “Winner of New York Film Critic Award” in the ad. So like it or not, the critics are important to the Oscar race.
There are 2 stories to tell each year. The Academy side shows us how a film is being promoted and what their chances are of getting votes. Sometimes votes depend on how well an actor or director are liked in the industry, their entire body of work, how well it was promoted and sometimes how well it did at the box office. Then there is the critics side that tell us the real reviews of the films. Every critic has a top 10 list of the year, which often don’t match the nominations.
I always try to tell both sides of the story, but it often gets muddy. The best does not always win. The best way to sum it up is a quote by Scott Feinberg. He pointed out that Hillary Swank had more Oscar statues than Meryl Streep!!