Why Paul Schrader May Not Open His Oscar Ballot This Year

Awards
by Anne Thompson
December 10, 2013 4:18 PM
11 Comments
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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?

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11 Comments

  • Galena Foster | January 3, 2014 9:23 AMReply

    It is NOT your age Paul. Now, if you could just take your rant to the streets with greater vigor I could retire from IMDB ranting and move on (or back to my own day job) and animal rescue. I think all of these awards and critics hi jacking of the movie industry and blood thirst for that Oscar, is getting worse than the US presidential election, with lobbying and planning years and years in advance. And one of the problems I have with twelve years a slave, is that this movie was named the Oscar winner before it was even released to the public for viewing. I think we're losing sight of what the movie industry is all about. Which is entertainment for the masses. The masses who actually pay the ticket prices so that the movies can be made in the first place. I look forward to the day when we can actually pay for a ticket and go see a movie that entertains us instead of paying for people in the movie industry to give each other awards. Awards that can be easily bought And sold and are not about celebration of cinema. I absolutely agree with you Mr Schrader. Very good insight.

  • John Brune | December 11, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    Good for Paul Schrader. The Oscars are all bull**** anyway.

  • Paul Schrader | December 11, 2013 3:59 PMReply

    Okay, I vented. I'm over it. And I'm not not blabbering in some besotted loser cubicle like the protagonist of Old Boy. Canyons was a great experience. A fascinating year. And a money making one for all involved. A damn interesting film which will grow more interesting as time passes. Now I'm in preproduction on an original script I wrote which i'll direct starting Jan 27 with Nic Cage, Anton Yelchin and Irene Jacob. So back off.

  • Julia Chasman | December 11, 2013 12:08 PMReply

    But don't you think this is just a mirror of our whole society? In a country where there is no limit on what can be spent on political campaigns, which decide the fate of who will serve in OUR GOVERNMENT, why wouldn't the same methods be applied to campaigns concerning a film's "artistic" merit when millions of dollars of profit are seen to be at stake? It hasn't really helped the way the press has glommed on, handicapping each race as if it were the Kentucky Derby, and fanning the flames by reporting the "snubs" alongside the anointed nominees. Yes, it's all quite silly, and you can still love film without participating in "Awards Season," now half the year.

  • eurocheese | December 10, 2013 8:05 PMReply

    Big studios with blah films just kept you from raising your voice for potential outliers, and you think you're NOT a pawn in their game? Way to respect the institution that accepted you as a member. Advertising campaigns distract from the actual films - you fight back by voting for what you truly liked.

  • sjpolgfim | December 10, 2013 7:36 PMReply

    Bravo! Finally, an older filmmaker who's got his grandpa pants on in a positive way and isn't being completely suckered in by the siren song of new media outlets and technologies that so many of his contemporaries are falling victim toward. Scorcese, do you not see what's happening, either? Maybe heed some advice from the guy who, literally, wrote three of your best films for you.

  • HANK | December 10, 2013 5:43 PMReply

    Let's face it, it's been like this for a long time - perhaps the internet has just made it worst. However, is it possible that Mr. Schraeder's whining is timed with the fact that this year possibly represents the nadir of his long career? Maybe he resents receiving dvd copies of great movies when he, himself, is responsible for birthing THE CANYONS into the world in the past 12 months. It's highly likely that he will receive multiple Razzie nominations in the next few weeks, which should really piss him off. Let's face it, if this were Scorcese or Hanks bitching, we would take him seriously, but since it's someone who already has an axe to grind with Hollywood, then I think we all take it with a grain of salt. And, to be honest, I think many of us hope that he doesn't open his ballot and vote. I'm sure he's a "vote for the worst" type of guy!

  • Screenmancer | December 10, 2013 5:34 PMReply

    Cry you a river... Vote with your outrage... Kleenex not required.

  • Chris L. | December 10, 2013 4:55 PMReply

    I'll miss seeing his list in Film Comment. Don't understand how that particular outlet violates his sense of decorum. And for that matter, all of these groups need as many thinking, discerning voters as they can get. Throwing up one's hands is no real solution.

    Maybe I'm just still mildly annoyed by "The Canyons"...

  • Brian | December 10, 2013 4:24 PMReply

    Who's the BD he refers to? Bette Davis?

  • MARK | December 10, 2013 5:33 PM

    BD = Bob Dylan

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