Jan 17, 2013

Franky's Oscar Picks: 2013 Edition (Intro)

By Guest Blogger: Franky C. Cabrera

I remember being 7 years old when my two older brothers took me to the movies to watch Batman & Robin at 10:10. The specific show time stuck with me all these years and it’s not because I possess some skill of remarkable recollection or anything; frankly I don’t remember much else about that night. Don’t remember what I wore, or the day of the week it was or even much about the actual quality of the film (more on that later) but I never forgot the particular time slot. Perhaps it’s because I was so excited. At 10:10, as in the number 10 twice, I’ll have begun seeing ‘Batman & Robin’ and it was going to be the best movie ever.

Except - apparently - according to both of my overly vocal brothers as soon as we exited the theater, it wasn’t. It actually SUCKED. Bad. A big ole stinker. Proclamations of resentment blaring like French horns at the frontline of a battle march, copious of “this was cheesy” or “that was ridiculous” or “George Clooney hahahaha George Clooney!” ensued. And despite the only other thing I remember that night, which was that I LIKED IT, I recall feeling compelled to share in on this hatred for this clearly putrid form of filmmaking, guising itself as watchable entertainment.

I didn’t want to like something that nobody else did.

That’s when my problem started. For years after that, following the discovery of a section of VHS tapes (ask your cool gen-x uncle if you’re wondering) at the local Wal-Mart that was exclusive to “Award Winners”, I dabbled in the knowingness of what unmistakably HAD to be “good taste”. With all credit due to the box art, if ‘Saving Private Ryan’ had been nominated for a whopping 11 Academy Awards, winning 5, well it just HAD to be good. Hell, some completely unappealing movie with an old man on the cover and a title I couldn’t pronounce (‘Gandhi’, respectively) had been nominated for 11 and won 8! People probably went around stabbing each other in the face at how excited they were about this film! Surprised there isn't a national holiday commemorating the release of this stroke of genius.

For a lengthy portion of my adolescence I was led to believe that only good films (I quickly cultured myself in quasi-intellectual lingo like referring to movies as “films”, mind you) got nominated and won Academy Awards. Everything else was probably what Ebert and Roeper curiously referred to as “mediocre” or “sub-par”. Everything else was probably Batman & Robin, which garnered exactly a goose egg in the ever prestigious Oscar Nominations. Pathetic.

Somewhere around the time I stopped being an automaton and started thinking for myself and DEFINITELY around the time Crash won Best Picture at the 2006 Academy Awards, I emblematically said to myself, after vomiting a little in my mouth and losing respect for mankind as a whole, “Oscar is wrong. Oscar is wrong about this because, well, Crash can nibble my stretch marks.”. It was the first time I could safely, without any ounce of reluctance, say that in my opinion and surprisingly probably not enough of other people’s opinion, that Crash couldn't be Best Picture because it WASN’T GOOD. It SUCKED. This was cheesy and THAT was ridiculous. And Sandra Bullock. HAHAHA SANDRA BULLOCK!

That being said, you’d think after a cataclysmic disagreeance with what I once held up to virtually religious sacredness, that I’d be swayed from ever paying any sort of mind to it again. Somehow though, quite the opposite effect resulted. Suddenly, the Academy Awards became more than just some method I’d use to measure the validity of my own preference with. It became an effective way of reflecting what exactly my taste, as unique as any other living person, was amidst this portion of the industry that although enthralled by exposure and generating consensus opinion, is also in an undeniable extent dedicated to ART. It became about analyses and discussion and which films by people who not only love films but MAKE films, were deemed worthy of recognition, thus effectively getting introduced to many “regular people” out there. When all audiences seem to indulge in (coughHollywoodcough) betrays what we love so much about film, as pompous and self-congratulatory as award shows seem, they don’t nearly get enough credit by the average person for the sheer extent of films they've presented us to throughout the years.

I personally was introduced to a great volume of films over the years; films that effectively taught me how to appreciate facets of filmmaking that tend to go largely unnoticed. Films of all criteria’s, of all countries and all genres and with little-to-no bias for box office success or mainstream approval (remember when a black and white silent film with no popular actors won last year? Ahhh…) And while perhaps not every film that grabbed my attention because it promoted those gaudy gold statues on its cover ended up being something I’D give my metaphorical gold statue to (The Franky. I love calling it the Franky) there are an insurmountable number of films I was exposed to over the years for EXACTLY that reason that I WOULD offer praise to. I did watch Saving Private Ryan for a contrived purpose… yet still 10 years later I can sincerely attest that it deserves all 5 of its wins. Franky probably would’ve given it more. And it didn't take long for me to realize that this entire time it wasn't my buddy Oscar telling me WHAT movies to like as much as he was urging me WHICH movies to watch. Like that nudge your always conspicuous friend gives you at the mall when he sees a girl noteworthy of an eye gazing… it’s not so much a “hey, she’s hawt right?” as much as it’s a “yo, what you think?” (All my friends practice in urban linguistics btw).

Completely asinine illustrations aside, point is, at the end of the day I never really liked any of the films I did because of the amount of awards or critical praise they received. Ultimately, I liked every film I did for my own reasons. Plenty of those reasons I came to understand through the evaluation and convenience of award categories and ceremonial praise but simply put, Oscar gold or not, as long as I LIKE the film movie, I learned that it really doesn't matter what those reasons are.

It doesn't matter if I like District 9 for its intelligent science fiction setting, or the films of David Lynch for their trademark dreamlike nature and unconventionality. Or Wall-E because for some reason I see so much of myself in that little selfless robot, or like any Chris Farley film just as much because it’s HILARIOUS. Or if I like the “GOOD” (Nolan) Batman films because they’re grounded in gritty realism and have Heath Ledgers riveting, iconic portrayal of The Joker.

Or if I like ‘Batman & Robin’, simply because I was 7 years old and at exactly 10:10 it might as well have been a 10/10. In the end, all are valid reasons.

Editor's Note: Be sure to check back soon for Franky's first batch of Oscar Picks. You can also check out his 2012 Oscar Picks archived on this blog. (Part 1, Part 2)

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