In an interview with Gotham, conducted by Zoe Kazan, the actor couched his comments about the Oscars within the context of a culture that demands that some rise, while others fall. “People want to turn everything in this country into a competition...[so] it’s clear who the winner is and who the loser is,” he said.
“It’s why they like to announce the grosses of movies, because it’s a way of saying, ‘This one is No. 1.’ It’s so asinine," he continued. "...if you look at how many forgettable, stupid movies have won Oscars and how many mediocre performers have Oscars above their fireplace. Making a priority of chasing these fake carrots and money and dubious accolades, I think it’s really destructive.”
Updated. Later today, Hawke clarified his comments by saying: “I think the Oscars do a very good job in representing much of the great work in a given year. Inevitably though, many great films and performances are not recognized and can be overlooked due to the mass marketing and PR machines that march through the awards season," he explained. "I don’t mean to take anything away from the genuine and deserved excitement that every nominee should feel.”
Coming from a two-time nominee (Best Actor for "Training Day," Best Adapted Screenplay alongside Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy for "Before Sunset") the comments carry a bit of extra weight, but it should be emphasized he's not dissing the Oscars, so much as the process and behaviour it breeds. Indeed, with the commentary from an Oscar voter arriving earlier this week, it's easy to see why some might easily see the cynicism that underscores much of the season. That being said, the Oscars are a tradition as flawed as they are, and there's nothing wrong with seeing good work honored (when it's deserved).