Fixing the Oscars


If there’s a truth in film criticism, it is that the Oscars are broken. They didn’t break along the way; they’ve always been broken. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Popular-vote awards are always a mess, tied to politics of one kind or another and the simple fact that those voting rarely have seen a tenth of the films (or books or anything else) that they are voting on. The Oscars aren’t technically a popular vote, but a jury, but the jury is so large that it approaches being a popular-vote.

So to fix the Oscars, we need a small, conscientious, and obsessed jury. We also need a jury filled with people with the finest artistic taste, which is partly objective, but greatly subjective. I’ve lucked out by finding the perfect jury: Me.

So, time to fix the Oscars with the FOSCARs. I’ll be looking primarily at the Best (Feature) Picture category. For each year, I will list 5-7 nominees (five as the default, six or seven for years with a larger number of great films). The “winning” film will be listed first. The others alphabetically. In general I will take a film’s year as the one in which is was first released anywhere (this puts me at odds with the initial Oscars which went from mid-year to mid-year, but they repaired that in the mid ’30s). The Oscars use the Los Angeles release year as the film’s year, which means foreign films often get switched to a different year; I’ll generally keep to the year of first release anywhere in the world, but I’ll adjust where it makes sense to.

For other categories, I’ll just list the best of the year, without choosing nominees.

As I primarily review fantasy and science fiction films, the best film of that type will be marked as well (FSF)—assuming there is a genre film that is good enough—thus making a “Best F&SF Film of the Year” list as well.

While a best of the year list is a fun way to look at the great films, it does not equate to a “greatest of all time” list. Some years weren’t as good as others. A single year might have seven films better than another year. Someday I may come up with a 100 Greatest Film list. But for now, this will do nicely.

It will take some time to catch up to the years of the Oscars.