Saving Private Ryan missed out on the Best Picture Oscar

Saving Private Ryan missed out on the Best Picture Oscar ©Paramount Pictures

Oscar time! Red carpets, low cut dresses and Jennifer Lawrence. What’s not to love? Well the complete sham that are the awards themselves. I’m sure that the Oscars 2014 will be no different. The awards are not based on the best film, the most innovative, the most creative and certainly not the most original.

In 1998, one of the single greatest films to ever grace cinemas across the globes was released. This epic, emotional, heart wrenching tale is watched lovingly and mournfully by viewers 16 years later. It inspired two HBO TV mini-series which in themselves have become classics of television. I of course am speaking of the monumental Saving Private Ryan. And the award for Best Picture went to? Shakespeare in Love.

That’s what defeated Saving Private Ryan. Which film has had a longer legacy? Which has made the biggest impact on western culture?

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Miramax spent an estimated $16 million (about $2,700 for each Academy member) on its Shakespeare (in Love) campaign.” Miramax also pushed journalists to criticise Saving Private Ryan for being historically inaccurate, which is impressive considering Shakespeare’s mentioning of the state of Virginia before there was a colony of Virginia. Anything goes in the dirty world of the aggressive awards campaign.

Saving Private Ryan was a master piece. Much in the same way Citizen Kane was for Orson Welles. Speaking of which, that didn’t win Best Picture either. Do you know what did? No? Me neither. Find someone who does without Googling it.

Star Wars (the good ones) and Raging Bull were snubbed too. The Dark Knight earned Heath Ledger a Best Supporting Actor award, but was conspicuously absent from the other main prizes.

Enjoy the awards though. Enjoy the annual circle-jerk and patting each other on the back that Hollywood considers so important. Just don’t use it as a benchmark for how good a film is. Was Argo really better than Lincoln or Life of Pi? Or Django Unchained?

Or perhaps I’m thinking about all this too much. Perhaps I am just cynical and jaded, worn out by sequels and prequels and Channing Tatum. Whether the awards matter or not is pretty inconsequential. They are entertainment. Glitter and glam to sum up the year in cinema.

Yes, films will be ignored, some of which deserve at least a nod to say they existed, that politics and money are not all that matters in the craft of filmmaking. Perhaps I need to just look at the positives of all of this. Ellen DeGeneres is hosting, which should be passably funny.

And most importantly, Jennifer Lawrence will be there. All will be well.

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