Is ’12 Years a Slave’ Done at the Oscars? Academy Members Won’t Even Watch It

Sasha Stone at Awards Daily has posted a depressing, yet honest recap of a recent Oscar blogger panel she attended alongside the likes of Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Dave Karger (Fandango), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Kyle Buchanan (Vulture) and Krista Smith (Vanity Fair) with awards publicist Peggy Siegel also in attendance. While there’s talk of what films should have won in the past, who votes and how to get them to vote, the most notable portion is Siegel revealing Oscar voters she had spoke to couldn’t even bring themselves to watch 12 Years a Slave:

But the bombshell of the day came when Peggy Siegel said that voters she spoke with (and remember, she goes to EVERYTHING) could not even bring themselves to watch 12 Years a Slave. You have to watch it, she would urge them. But they would hold up their hands and say — I can’t.

This opinion was countered somewhat by Pete Hammond, and later on Twitter, Scott Feinberg, but Siegel isn’t a journalist nor Oscar blogger. She doesn’t have an immediate stake in the game at this point. She was sharing her experience with those people and this movie.

As if it isn’t distressing enough, to know Academy voters have only nine films they need to see before voting on the Oscars (at least for Best Picture) and can’t bring themselves to watch one of them, I found what Stone had to say about Academy member Bruce Feldman equally frustrating:

[Feldman] most certainly did not like the things that were being said about “them,” the generalizations, the second-guessing. It was clearly irritating. He did say at one point that he knew “some” Academy members that were like the ones we were all describing. Then he said there were some that actually were critical and did think about things other than what they “like.”

It’s those last two sentences that get me, the idea an Academy member would say something to the effect of, “Yeah, most people just vote for what they like, but there are some that are actually critical and look beyond their personal bias,” is astounding to me. I don’t see how someone within an organization known for what is undoubtedly the most “prestigious” film award handed out could defend such behavior. At what point, as an Academy member, do you, then, feel your vote even matters? How long are you going to spend poring over the nominees, thinking about things critically, if you know your colleagues are just going to be swayed by parties and swag bags?

I was discussing the Oscars last night before my screening of Non-Stop and talking about the Best Actor race and how much I would love to see Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) pull an upset win over Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), citing all my reasons I wrote about earlier, when a woman behind us chimed in. She said McConaughey most certainly had the better performance, and why did she say this? Because DiCaprio said “fuck” too much.

I pressed her a little more and eventually got her to admit she wasn’t judging the performances, but instead judging which characters and or movie she “liked” more. I even got her to admit most everything she didn’t like about The Wolf of Wall Street was actually the point of the movie, but it wasn’t fazing her. “McConaughey should win, he doesn’t say ‘fuck’ as much.” End of story.

Getting back to the first comments mentioned above, this idea Academy members can’t even be bothered to watch a film many (including myself, at least right now) are still predicting to win Best Picture, what does that tell us about what film eventually will win?

All things considered I don’t believe “not watching” a film would actually prevent one of these Academy members from voting for it, but at the same time among the top three contenders — 12 Years a SlaveGravity and American Hustle — which of those three are the members most likely to watch, and which ones are they most likely to enjoy (read “like”).

I’d say it’s obvious the majority will surely watch both Gravity and American Hustle with 12 Years being a distant third and given the Academy’s system of preferential voting it would seem to suggest the film found on more #2 lines will end up being your eventual winner. Can you imagine many ballots with 12 Years at #2 with any one of the other eight nominees at #1? Or is it easier to imagine ballots with 12 Years at #1 or, alternatively, not even in the top five? That, my friends, is how films such as The King’s Speech win over films like The Social Network.

As for my predictions, I have to admit this may have been the report to finally put the writing on the wall for me. My eyes have cleared and it seems the Best Picture winner will be…

I’ll have my final Oscar predictions posted on Friday, when I’ll also ask you to vote on all the top categories. You can, however, find my current predictions right here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *