This is the first of a four-part series.
The Academy Award nominations are out, a glorious period for those of us in the movie business. Fancy parties, the ubiquitous swag, gobs of platitudes and self-congratulations. In a business of power-hungry egomaniacs, what more could a guy want? With all the upcoming fanfare over this week's nominations, it might be worth noting that most of these talented, wonderful people will have one thing in common in roughly four weeks.
They'll all be losers.
That's not to say that they're defined by what they do, or that the Oscars are an indication of success in any other areas of their lives; when it comes to Hollywood, nobody should take anything personally. But on February 26th at the Kodak Theatre, I already know what's coming. And it ain't gonna be pretty.
Now before you claim sour grapes, I do realize how fortunate I've been over the last several years. Though I wasn't personally involved in any of the nominated films this year, I've worked on several movies (in one capacity or another) that have been up for multiple awards in years past. Usually there's someone larger or wealthier or just plain louder than me taking all the credit, but I'm always happy just to be there -- at the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes, Baftas, Academy Awards, Flatbush Sephardic Film Festival Awards (fifth place, 1998!), etc. There's a well-documented process to these things, and much of it really is like a political campaign -- just with edible food and better-looking people. It's a long haul, and it gets longer every year. First the Top 10 lists arrive from sources nobody's ever heard of but it causes the desired uproar -- why was your film omitted from the Woodmere Press Republican? The Internet is buzzing -- how is it possible that the award sites are now year-round? The soothsayers in Vegas just put your Best Picture odds at 6-1, the same as Tim Tebow's chances of ever winning a Super Bowl or being elected Pope. It's everywhere, in all media around the world, and it's gaining steam. You win at this event, you lose at that one.
What does it all mean? Your mother wants to know if you're finally going to shave. The roar becomes deafening, impossible to avoid. You see the same people at every show, and you begin to take on a distinctly unpleasant mentality: Did that guy from The Tree Of Life just give me the evil eye? Why is that famous politician sitting at The Descendants table? Who put the Midnight in Paris group so close to the stage? Why are The Artist people smiling so much -- do they know something you don't?
Finally, it's the Academy Awards, and with it comes one unfailing certainty: you're going to lose again. How, you may ask, can I foretell the future? Because I've seen my peers go through it many times and can read the writing on the wall, especially when the writing says, "You're going to lose again."
Granted, my deadly combination of cynical New Yorker and neurotic Jew doesn't help, but truth is the truth as my Grandmother used to say (though she lied incessantly), and so here's an insider's view of What Happens When You Don't Win An Oscar...
This is part one of a four-part series. Read part two here.