I would like to thank all of my friends who have tried to convince me to change my mind about this over the years. Your efforts are very much appreciated. Each time you post the menu for your Oscar Viewing Party, or call me up all excited about the nominations, I stop and reconsider this boycott. You are all correct, boycotting won’t change anything. I am only denying myself the pleasure of the indulgence that is The Academy Awards Ceremony. But, I just can’t bring myself to do it. So, for all of you who continually try to convince me – especially when you don’t realize you are trying to convince me – I appreciate it. Maybe when I am an old lady and the true ridiculousness of my stance finally sets in, we can sit down and have that Oscar Viewing Party. Of course, by then I probably won’t be able to appropriately digest the food. Also, I will most likely not have any idea who any of the people on television are. But, this post is for you anyway. Thank you. God bless you all.
I should start at the beginning. In 1998, I was absolutely positive that Julianne Moore was going to win an Oscar. My reasoning was that even though Boogie Nights was totally unacceptable as an Oscar movie Julianne Moore deserved to win because of the work she had done in it.
At the time, I believed that her only real competition was Joan Cusack (let’s face it, she is awesome in pretty much everything) and Gloria Stuart (Titanic was extremely popular with the Academy, plus she was really old and had the cache of old Hollywood). I had some hope that Minnie Driver might be the dark horse that year because I really loved Good Will Hunting (I loved the screenplay and truly saw a great deal of talent in Matt Damon. I didn’t understand the Robin Williams win, even though I did enjoy his acceptance speech). But, Kim Basinger of all people, walking away with an Academy Award when EVERYONE else in that category was a much better actor (yes, I say actor regardless of gender – acting is a craft and gender doesn’t factor into it) made absolutely no sense to me.
Again, this had nothing to do with Kim Basinger. In fact, I never really thought about Kim Basinger. I hadn’t thought of her as an actor. It never even occurred to me to care about her personal life (in that way that I generally care about a famous person’s personal life. Don’t judge me! I know you read the gossip about your favorite actors too. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be gossip magazines). Kim Basinger was a nonentity to me.
So, when she won I was not so much shocked as appalled. I didn’t get it.
I still don’t get it. Anyway, that is why I started boycotting the Oscars. I thought that watching something that made absolutely no bones about the fact that talent wasn’t the point would eventually hurt me spiritually (I was still young and idealistic in those days).
In the years that followed, there were times that I would regret my decision. This was especially true in the first few years. I have always been completely addicted to movies. So, at that point in my life I looked to that particular awards ceremony for validation in my choices.
Oh, I know that some of the best performances and films had never won prior to that particular evening. Prior to that, I would always tell myself that it simply wasn’t the right time. Or, I would firmly believe that it was about a particular role or performance that just struck a chord with the voters. I didn’t agree, but I could understand the win. But, on that night it dawned on me that it wasn’t about talent (Sometimes it was, but not in the grand scheme of acting talent).
Blame it on youth or whatever, but before that night, it simply didn’t occur to me that the voters weren’t taking talent into consideration. So, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I would never watch the Oscars again. Instead, I would ignore the critics, the hooplah and the grandiose ceremonies. I would judge for myself whether or not I thought a performance or movie was something that simply had to be seen.
As I was holding fast to my views and watching movies that I enjoyed, something happened. I started to think that maybe I was wrong. Maybe ignoring the Oscars because I personally didn’t like the winning performance was silly. Besides, it wasn’t like my boycott had any kind of effect on anything. It just made me feel better (and also very smug, maybe even self-righteous). I was also starting to miss the shimmering fun of the spectacle. Seeing all of my favorite actors and directors in the same room trying to be civil to each other while dressed in what they thought was their best clothing, was a joy, and I was missing it something fierce.
Just as I was starting to give up on my boycott, Halle Berry won for her performance in Monster’s Ball.
I have always disliked Halle Berry. Not personally, but as an actor. I always thought she was pretty, but never saw any actual talent there. I remember watching her in Queen as a teenager. My parents had watched the Roots mini-series in their younger days and assumed that watching Queen with us would somehow be similar. Only, they didn’t realize that I had read Roots and Queen by then. So, it was difficult to watch her try to act in a role that required more than her just looking cute and saying a couple of lines. Plus, she was just plain terrible. I was biased because I had read the story first, but even if I hadn’t, I still knew (even as a teenager with no real understanding of talent) that she just wasn’t any good.
In the time that followed, I would make a point of watching (or trying to watch) other projects that “starred” Halle Berry. I always came away with the same impression; she was pretty, but she just wasn’t any good. I’m actually kind of amazed that I have believed this for a couple of decades now but still feel the need to explain myself.
Anyway, as I was about to decide that I would give the Oscars another chance (I figured I would wait and watch the next year since I still wasn’t quite sure if I cared enough to watch that year), Halle Berry won for Monster’s Ball. I’d seen Monster’s Ball for the same reason that I had seen her other work – to prove that I hadn’t misjudged just how terrible she was. After watching the movie two things came to mind:
- The movie was relentlessly and pointlessly depressing
- Everyone in that movie (including a guy I hadn’t ever heard of before named Heath Ledger – man do I have a story to tell you about him) had given an excellent performance except her.
I was starting to think that it was personal. I mean I had watched her in plenty of things over the years. Here was this dramatic (even if it was pointlessly depressing) movie that should have made me feel something, but as far as I could see, she still sucked. Then, she actually won an Oscar for that ridiculous excuse to take off her clothes and makeup. And, let’s be honest. Halle Berry won because she took off her make up and then her clothes and pretended to have sex with Billy Bob Thonrton, and because it was a pointlessly depressing movie where everyone looked sweaty and racist. There were excellent performances in the movie, but come on. Halle Berry? She sucked. That line where she is all “Make me feel good” was the funniest thing ever! I never laughed so hard before. It was the only spot of hilarity in that pointlessly depressing movie.
Anyway, her winning the Oscar told me that I was right to not watch. I know that there’s nothing better to watch on TV during the Oscars. But, it really doesn’t matter.
I could overlook some of the more ridiculous choices for wins. It took a couple of years, but I was even willing to overlook Kim Basinger. But, Halle Berry? Come on!
What’s really funny is that she had to go and do that terrible version of Catwoman before critics started to wonder if it was a fluke too. Even then, they were willing to give her a pass.
But, I just can’t.
Anytime, I see a Halle Berry movie, I close my eyes and just listen to her speak the dialogue. I either cringe or laugh. Many of my friends have pointed out that I tend to laugh with derision, disdain, or disgust.
To be honest though, the laugh bubbles out of me because it’s funny. Seriously, give it a try sometime. The next time a Halle Berry movie is on, close your eyes and listen to her speak the dialogue. I guarantee a laugh that will brighten your day. You will wonder how she manages to turn everything she is in into a comedy. Even if it’s that pointlessly depressing movie for which she won an Oscar.
In the end, my boycott really doesn’t have anything to do with the Academy. If I’m really honest about it, it doesn’t have anything to do with Halle Berry or Kim Basinger either. I just can’t deal with the concept anymore. Kim Basinger happened to be the first breaking point. Halle Berry was simply the point of no return.
I will say this though: I always check Pajiba to find out who won and how people felt about it.