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Why Paul Schrader May Not Open His Oscar Ballot This Year

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 10, 2013 at 4:18PM

Paul Schrader: "I find this escalating media chatter regarding film society awards, Oscar handicapping and promotional gimmicks increasingly tiresome. This year I declined to submit a selection to Film Comment's year's best list. I stopped voting for DGA and WGA awards last year and for the first time since 1976, when I was privileged to be accepted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, I may leave my Oscar ballot unopened."
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Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader

In case you haven't noticed, the awards noise is reaching a crescendo about now. And writer-director Paul Schrader for one, is sick of it. I asked the writer-director ("Blue Collar," "American Gigolo," "The Canyons") to expand on his recent Facebook rant about why he has decided to opt out of the awards process. Here it is:

Is it my age or is it the times? I find this escalating media chatter regarding film society awards, Oscar handicapping and promotional gimmicks increasingly tiresome. This year I declined to submit a selection to Film Comment's year's best list. I stopped voting for DGA and WGA awards last year and for the first time since 1976, when I was privileged to be accepted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, I may leave my Oscar ballot unopened.

Why? Every year I've exercised my deeply appreciated right to vote for the annual Oscar awards. But now I am sickened by the shameless monied huckstering of the vote procuring process, the endless drumbeat of best-of lists, the proliferating of minor and major critics group awards, the notion that any blogger announcing his/her "best film" merits consideration--well, eck! 

Yes, this ecky ecosphere has been evolving for a dozen years but now, for me, it's reached a breaking point. The essential role film criticism plays in film culture is being eaten alive by the Buzzfeed zeitgeist. Driven by "For Your Consideration" dollars. It's no longer a matter of content, it's a matter of clicks. What can be done? Well, one can always walk away if only out of self worth. Why, as BD said, be a pawn in their game?

This article is related to: Paul Schrader, Facebook, Writers Guild Awards, Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Critics Groups, Critics, Oscars


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.