The Geek Beat: Why I Can't Get Excited About the Oscars (but Wish I Could)

The Geek Beat: Why I Can't Get Excited About the Oscars (but Wish I Could)

Jan 21, 2014

I remember the moment I fell out of love with you, Oscars.

It wasn't something you did that came between us. It was something you didn't do. And you can probably take solace in the fact that most people wouldn't get upset about it. Heck, they'd probably agree with you. But this was the proverbial straw that broke my back, Oscars. It was the spark that ignited the inferno. It was the, well... you get the idea.

Specifically, it was that time you didn't nominate The Fifth Element for a “Best Costume Design” Oscar.

I know, I know... it's pretty ridiculous. Of all the rough patches we've overcome, that was the reason I stopped taking you seriously?

I know it's going to sound weird, but 1997 was the year I thought we were finally starting to get on the same wavelength. I knew you were all about Titanic that year, but after watching The Fifth Element and seeing those wild outfits that Jean Paul Gaultier created for the film and having that “Oh, now I understand why this fashion designer is such a big deal” moment, I was certain that this was the sort of movie that was made to win the Best Costume Design category. Maybe I was making it out to be something bigger than it was, but I thought that this was the moment of convergence for us – that point when two minds become one. I finally got you, and you finally got me.

No matter what people said about your history of favoring period-piece costumes over original creations that establish a unique tone for a film, you weren't going to pass up The Fifth Element. No way. That was just crazy talk!

But that's exactly what you did, you jerk. (Sorry, I just get so angry when I think about it.) Even worse, you didn't even bother nominating The Fifth Element. It was like a slap in the face, Oscars, and things have never been the same between us.

But it wasn't just because of that one nomination faux pas in that one award season. Like I mentioned earlier, it was a slow burn that brought us to that point.

Here's the thing, Oscars: I really, truly want to like you. I learned a lot from you over the years. You introduced me to movies I might not have been aware of otherwise, told me about great actors and directors and screenwriters that weren't on my radar, and teased me with all sorts of short films and animated features that were different than anything I'd seen before.

You were that cool kid who always knew about the best stuff my friends hadn't heard of yet, and for many, many years I looked forward to our annual time together with something that's probably best described as giddiness. I'm man enough to admit that you gave me butterflies, Oscars. But at some point I started to feel like that cool kid was, well... too cool for school.

It always bugged me that you never wanted anything to do with most of the movies I loved. And on those rare occasions when you did acknowledge them, you always shunted them off into some back-alley category that no one talks about – like “Best Visual Effects” or “Best Sound Editing.”

You did it with Alien, and The Matrix, and Jurassic Park, and Blade Runner. Heck, you wouldn't even acknowledge The Thing or The Shining, and those are two of my favorite films of all time (and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone there). And when you went on and on about each year's best movies, it's like you didn't even hear me talking about the grim juxtaposition of tainted escapism fantasy and the horror of war in Pan's Labyrinth or the brutal effects of crime and capitalism brought to their natural extremes in RoboCop.

No, you were all, “Blah blah tragic biopic of triumph in the face of adversity...” and “blah blah decompressed dramatization of historical events.”

I tried to brush it off. I really did. I know that sometimes, in order to preserve a relationship, you have to be content with small victories.

So no, I haven't forgotten about that time you nominated Star Wars for a bunch of big awards. You even called it one of the year's best movies! That was pretty great – even if the only awards it actually won were in the usual technical categories that barely get a mention during the television broadcast these days. And hey, the same goes for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and more recently, District 9, Avatar and Inception (even though I know those last three were only in there because you felt bad about leaving out The Dark Knight).

Oh, and that time you called The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King the best movie of the year? That made me feel like maybe, just maybe, distance had indeed made the heart grow fonder. You don't need to say it, but I know that was a message just for me.

But let's be honest with each other, Oscars, because that's the foundation of a good relationship.

It feels like you have something against the geeky movies I love. In all the years you've been doing what you do, you've never named a science fiction film the year's best movie – and we both know there have been a few movies (like Inception) that would've worn that mantle well. (Alien or 2001 would've been fine choices, too.) The Return of the King was the first and only true fantasy film to win, and horror films have been few and far between in nominations (and wins), too.

Don't get me wrong: What you did with The Return of the King was a great first step toward reconciliation. And if you really mean what you said about opening up the Best Picture category so that we can have a greater variety of films in the mix, that's great news. Just to be clear, though, I'm not looking for a handout here. I just want to open a two-way line of communication, so that this thing that's come between us doesn't keep tearing us apart.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I hope you value our relationship and what we had – back before the whole fiasco with The Fifth Element. Because I really think we can be close again, Oscars. In fact, given all of the geeky movies hitting theaters over the next few years, I think there are going to be lots of opportunities to work things out. You do want to work things out, right?

I miss the good times, Oscars.

By the way, have you seen Gravity?

Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends,, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.




Categories: Features, Geek, Awards
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