Snow Day?

Compared to a great deal of the world, Virginia does not get a lot of snow so it’s always a treat when we do get some.  Or so I once thought…  College has changed that.  Now, one is expected to brave roads dusted with one inch snowfalls that would keep public school buses in the garage.  All for reasons of college and/or work.  Damn responsibility.

EMU takes this trend to an idiotic level.  Obviously, they’re not going to close school (or even cancel classes) for a few flurries but if I was living off-campus (and didn’t know any better), it would appear as if the administration was giving me the finger.  See, EMU has a nasty habit of never canceling.  This is even more awkward when the high school just down the street is closed or JMU opens later.  Last Wednesday, for example, EMU opened at 9 AM.  JMU opened a hour later, while both public city high schools were closed.  What the fuck is the point of canceling only one class?

Tomorrow, a huge blizzard is forecast.  Most schools (including colleges like Blue Ridge) have already closed.  EMU and JMU are sitting and waiting.  I’d normally side with EMU or JMU, since schools closing before snowfall are jumping the gun (at least wait until the morning) but I’m convinced EMU would stay open and have classes.  Even if it was a perpetual nuclear winter, some jackass in the administration would build igloos for us to have class in.

Been writing for 2,012 days…would have written about the 2012 scare but what is there to say?  The Mayans had no grand belief the world would end in 2012…it’s just laziness on their behalf.  I’m pretty sure the Mayan thought went along the lines of, “We won’t need to have our calendar go past 2012 because it’s not like our civilization will be destroyed by the Spanish and someone will come along and discover our unfinished calendar and make doomsday prophecies out of it.”  In any event, EMU will still have classes.

Oscar’s Best Picture Bias

The Oscar nominations were released today.  For the first time since 2003, the movie that made the most money at the box office was awarded an Oscar nomination for “Best Picture.”  Whether Avatar should win can be debated but it definitely deserves a nomination.  See, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (i.e. the Academy) has a very odd bias towards blockbuster movies.  Since 1983, only six movies that were the highest-grossing of their year have been awarded a nomination.  Remember that films are entertainment and one way to judge how entertaining a product is is to see how much money it made.  Monetary profit does not always equal great quality but judging on the past 25 years, the Academy’s criteria apparently involves ignoring the opinions (and wallets) of the people who fund their industry.  That, or the Academy has better taste than the general public.

While the last 25 years are especially guilty in the offense of leaving blockbusters off the Best Picture ballot, Oscar’s bias has been apparent since World War II.  Looking over box office figures (from these two sites) and Best Picture nominations since 1945, a span of 63 years, the biggest box office hit has only been nominated 27 times.  The biggest money maker of each year has less than half a chance to garner one of Oscar’s five nominations?  This is silly because the Academy once had good sense.  From 1962 to 1982, blockbuster movies were well-represented at the Oscars.  With the exception of four years (1966, 1967, 1978 and 1980), the biggest money-maker was awarded a Best Picture nomination.

The following list shows the movies that were the highest-grossing of their year (according to the two sites linked above) that were awarded a Best Picture nomination.  Movies that are in bold won the award for Best Picture.  Mathematically, Avatar’s chances of winning don’t look too great but recently, blockbusters have rarely garnered a nomination.  When they have, though, those movies have usually won.

1948 – The Red Shoes
1951 – Quo Vadis
1956 – The Ten Commandments
1957 – The Bridge on the River Kwai
1959 – Ben-Hur
1962 – Lawrence of Arabia
1963 – Cleopatra
1964 – Mary Poppins
1965 – The Sound of Music
1968 – Funny Girl
1969 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1970 – Love Story
1971 – Fiddler on the Roof
1972 – The Godfather
1973 – The Exorcist
1974 – The Towering Inferno
1975 – Jaws
1976 – Rocky
1977 – Star Wars
1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer
1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 – E.T.:  The Extra-Terrestrial
1988 – Rain Man
1994 – Forrest Gump
1997 – Titanic
1998 – Saving Private Ryan
2003 – Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King

To conclude, here are the last 25 years worth of Oscar nominations.  One can decide if the Academy was right to snub the highest-grossing pictures of a nomination in their respective year.  The film following the year was the highest-grossing of that year.  Under that is whether the film was nominated and if so, did it win?  The Best Picture nominees always have the winner listed first.  The number following each film in parenthesis is where that film is ranked in terms of that year’s box office.  So, the (16) following Slumdog Millionaire means that movie was the 16th highest-grossing movie of 2008 (meaning 15 other movies made more money than Slumdog).  Years that had the box office hit winning the Oscar did not have the nominees listed because, honestly, what’s the point?  All these figures come from Box Office Mojo.

1983:  Star Wars:  Return of the Jedi
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Terms of Endearment (2), The Big Chill (13), The Dresser (not in top 50), The Right Stuff (33), Tender Mercies (not in top 50)

1984:  Beverly Hills Cop / Ghostbusters
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Amadeus (12), The Killing Fields (25), A Passage to India (34), Places in the Heart (24), A Soldier’s Story (47)
Note:  Box Office Report lists Ghostbusters as the biggest domestic blockbuster of 1984, whereas Box Office Mojo lists Beverly Hills Cop.

1985:  Back to the Future
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Out of Africa (5), The Color Purple (4), Kiss of the Spider Woman (not in top 50), Prizzi’s Honor (32), Witness (8)

1986:  Top Gun
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Platoon (3), Children of a Lesser God (32), Hannah and Her Sisters (30), The Mission (not in top 50), A Room with a View (44)

1987:  Three Men and a Baby
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  The Last Emperor (25), Broadcast News (18), Fatal Attraction (2), Hope and Glory (not in top 50), Moonstruck (5)

1988:  Rain Man
Nominated?  Yes.  Win?  Yes.

1989:  Batman
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Driving Miss Daisy (8), Born on the Fourth of July (17), Dead Poets Society (10), Field of Dreams (19), My Left Foot (not in top 50)

1990:  Home Alone
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Dances with Wolves (3), Awakenings (23), Ghost (2), The Godfather Part III (17), Goodfellas (26)

1991:  Terminator 2:  Judgment Day
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  The Silence of the Lambs (4), Beauty and the Beast (3), Bugsy (25), JFK (17), The Prince of Tides (16)

1992:  Aladdin
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Unforgiven (11), The Crying Game (20), A Few Good Men (5), Howards End (48), Scent of a Woman (19)

1993:  Jurassic Park
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Schindler’s List (9), The Piano (38), The Fugitive (3), In the Name of the Father (not in top 50), The Remains of the Day (not in top 50)

1994:  Forrest Gump
Nominated?  Yes.  Win?  Yes.

1995:  Toy Story
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Braveheart (18), Apollo 13 (3), Babe (28), Il Postino (not in top 50), Sense and Sensibility (39)

1996:  Independence Day
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  The English Patient (19), Fargo (not in top 50), Jerry McGuire (4), Secrets and Lies (not in top 50), Shine (41)

1997:  Titanic
Nominated?  Yes.  Win?  Yes.

1998:  Saving Private Ryan
Nominated?  Yes.  Win?  No
Best Picture Nominees:  Shakespeare in Love (18), Elizabeth (not in top 50), Life is Beautiful (35), Saving Private Ryan (1), The Thin Red Line (not in top 50)

1999:  Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  American Beauty (13), The Cider House Rules (41), The Green Mile (12), The Insider (not in top 50), The Sixth Sense (2)

2000:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Gladiator (4), Chocolat (32), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (12), Erin Brockovich (13), Traffic (15)

2001:  Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  A Beautiful Mind (11), Gosford Park (59), In the Bedroom (68), Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (2), Moulin Rouge! (43)

2002:  Spider-Man
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Chicago (10), Gangs of New York (35), The Hours (56), The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers (2), The Pianist (80)

2003:  The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King
Nominated?  Yes.  Win?  Yes.

2004:  Shrek 2
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Million Dollar Baby (24), The Aviator (22), Finding Neverland (61), Ray (37), Sideways (40)

2005:  Star Wars Episode III:  Revenge of the Sith
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  Crash (49), Brokeback Mountain (22), Capote (95), Good Night and Good Luck (88), Munich (62)

2006:  Pirates of the Carribbean:  Dead Man’s Chest
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  The Departed (15), Babel (92), Letters from Iwo Jima (138), Little Miss Sunshine (51), The Queen (57)

2007:  Spider-Man 3
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees:  No Country for Old Men (36), Atonement (50), Juno (15), Michael Clayton (55), There Will Be Blood (66)

2008:  The Dark Knight
Nominated?  No.
Best Picture Nominees: 
Slumdog Millionaire (16), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (20), Frost/Nixon (120), Milk (89), The Reader (82)