Wednesday, March 9, 2011
This is a term thrown around a lot when it comes to this time of year. Recently crowned Best Picture The King’s Speech had been called “Oscar Bait” by many people, accused of playing to the Academy’s penchant for royalty, movies based on a true story, triumph over adversity, and of course Britishness. But I wonder when the term started coming into vogue. When Robert De Niro was banging his head against a concrete wall in Raging Bull, were there some people in the audience thinking “Oh, this is Oscar bait” or were they just thinking people were trying to make a good movie? I guess that’s my biggest problem with the term Oscar bait, because I feel that it negatively applies to filmmakers trying to make serious attempts at storytelling.
Moviefone.com wrote an article back in October called “2010’s Most Transparent Oscar Bait”, which included 5 of the 10 movies eventually nominated for Best Picture. They had criticisms like “The Fighter has Oscar bait written all over it. Just look at all of its Oscar-friendly traits: It's a Paramount Vantage flick, Christian Bale lost a ton of weight for it, and it's based on a true story. Not to mention it's a boxing movie, which have been Academy attention magnets for films like Million Dollar Baby and Ali” Couldn’t it be possible that the filmmakers were just trying to make an interesting movie? That notorious weight fluctuater Christian Bale simply was at his old tricks again (none of which had previously nabbed him an Oscar nomination)? I guess it’s the cynical view of artists making art for money or awards rather than for the sake of creating art that bothers me. Call it naiveté, but I sincerely believe that these folks were just trying to make a good movie. Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that there aren’t filmmakers out there who maybe tailor some things to awards voting trends, but I have rarely seen a movie that made me actually think it was made solely for awards contention.
So, why do some people use the term “Oscar bait” when referring to the serious movies we’re treated to at the end of the year? Is it simply to disrespect the movies, or is it because they actually think the movie was created simply for awards consideration?