Adventures in Barrywood: Imagine a world without Oscar

February 25, 2013

I was on South American television talking about the Oscars this morning. This isn’t the clip but I’ll put it up once I find it.

By Barry Koltnow in The Orange County Register

Imagine a world without the Oscars.

Don’t panic; I didn’t say a world without oxygen. I didn’t say a world without drinking water. I didn’t even say a world without Splenda.

All I’m suggesting is that you try to imagine what it might be like to root for your favorite movies without dazzling red-carpet fashions, embarrassing long-winded acceptance speeches and repeated “for your consideration” ads.

And when I ask that you imagine such a world, I include other movie awards as well. Without the Oscars, there would be no Golden Globes. If there were no Golden Globes, there would be no People’s Choice awards. In order to have pretenders to the throne, you must have a king sitting on the throne.

I realize that it’s almost impossible to imagine such a world because movie award shows have become such an integral part of the pop-culture scene.

However, I said “almost” impossible. It’s not really impossible, but if you’re having trouble imagining a world without the Oscars, here’s how it might sound, assuming you can imagine Ben Affleck bumping into Steven Spielberg at Ralphs.

Why couldn’t they run into each other at Ralphs? Without Oscar campaigns to run, what else are they going to do with their spare time?

Imagine this meeting in the dairy aisle:

“Hey Ben, what are you doing here?”

“Jen and I are shopping for fattening food. There’s no need for diets if you don’t have to squeeze into form-fitting gowns and designer tuxedos at the Oscars.”

“That’s a great point, Ben.”

“I know. Jen and I are focusing on salty snacks today because we no longer have to worry about water retention during Oscar week.”

“When’s the last time we ran into each other?”

“I think it was four score and seven years ago.”

“That’s pretty funny, Ben. I guess you’re referring to my new movie Lincoln? ”

“Yes, I really enjoyed it. If the Oscars were still around, I’ll bet you would have gotten 13 nominations.”

“That’s very kind of you, Ben, but I doubt whether it would have gotten any more than 12.”

“Maybe I got carried away, but I know it would have done very well.”

“Thanks, Ben. And I might say the same about your film Argo.”

“That means so much coming from a legendary director like you, Steven. Of my three films, I think this was my best work as a director.”

“I agree, Ben. In fact, I think that not only would you have been nominated in the director’s category if the Oscars were still being held, but I think you might actually have won the Academy Award.”

“That is very kind of you, Steven, but there is no way either of us would beat Kathryn Bigelow at the Oscars. She would have swept every directing award, and her film, Zero Dark Thirty, would win it all.”

“Really? You don’t think the subject of torture might have impacted the Oscar race, if there were an Oscar race?”

“What could people object to, Steven? The CIA used torture back then, but nobody’s saying that torture led to Osama bin Laden. They may have implied that, but who doesn’t stretch the truth a little bit in the movies? Do you think anyone in their right mind believes the last scene in my movie, when all those Iranians are chasing the plane down the runway and shooting like crazy people?”

“That was pretty funny, Ben. I can’t believe you got away with that.”

“Well, luckily there are no Oscars this year so it’s not like Argo is going to win anything and make me answer for those historical inaccuracies.”

“You’ve got that right, Ben. I’m still not sure about my decision to have Lincoln talk like Urkel.”

“You’re worried about historical accuracy in the same year as Django Unchained?

“Good one, Ben.”

“All things considered, Steven, aren’t you happy that there are no more Oscars?”

“I’m torn, Ben. On the one hand, I never liked directors competing against directors and actors competing against actors.”

“What about writers competing against writers?”

“Oh, that’s OK. Nobody cares about writers.”

“And on the other hand?”

“Frankly, it’s nice to receive a pat on the back from your peers. There are so few moments of encouragement in this business. Even I need encouragement once in a while.”

“Seriously, Steven?”

“Absolutely. When do I get an ’attaboy?’”

“Well, you did win a few awards before they stopped giving them out. You have become fabulously wealthy through your work. You have the power to make any movie you want in Hollywood. You are idolized by millions of people. And you married Kate Capshaw.”

“Other than that, what do I really have? When was the last time a roomful of admirers stood up and cheered for me?”

“You mean like at the Oscars?”

“The envelope, please.”

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