I find myself in a weird position this afternoon – and for once it’s not slouched so far down the couch I’m almost falling off. No, I’m sitting upright – for a change – but I’m still not quite right, and this has everything to do with the Oscars that’ll soon unfold like a red carpet stretching well into the night.
I am excited about the Academy Awards, as I always am: for trivia purposes, to see some familiar faces, to see those lucky few succeed in their pursuit of excellence.
This time around, though, it’s like watching the NBA Finals – I know who’s playing, I’ve read about the personalities involved, I’ve seen clips of their work, I’ve followed their success. But in the end, it’s mostly been without sitting down and actually watching the full performance from beginning to end.
I could list a dozen reasons why this negligence is the case. I won’t, but I’ll list half that:
1. Movies are expensive, we know. At the same time, TV is cheap (even free TV isn’t free), Netflix is a pretty good deal, and except for the visionary tentpole movies you must see in a theatre (The Dark Knight), one can generally go the home theatre route as less is lost seeing a taut family drama on a smaller screen (which gets bigger every year, incidentally).
2. I’ve been watching more TV than movies anyway because of how good, good TV is and because of my fractured schedule and atrophied attention span for which more than 60 consecutive minutes of anything overloads the system.
3. Going to see movies is increasingly irritating and time-consuming. To get a seat that’s at all decent, I have to arrive at least 30 minutes beforehand, just in time to watch (or try and fail to ignore) 30 minutes of commercials. Then the trailers show up and by the time the movie starts, I’ve been there an hour and I’ve forgotten what I came to see and why I was excited for it in the first place.
4. The theater where I lived most of last year didn’t play the best of the best, just the more popular movies on more screens. It was the only theatre in town, but then Astoria didn’t have many bookstores, neither – just one I can think of, a retailer specializing in outdated encyclopedias and computer manuals from the early 1990s. It remains a fun neighborhood full of people smart is different ways than I, where residents find company and solace in each other at sidewalk cafes and smoky bars, not in books and movies and in his own head like I would.
5. I’m older now and more easily tired, surely more jaded and unfortunately not as easily impressed, it seems. I also have responsibilities to other people in addition to myself, and different responsibilities to myself at that. I was lucky enough for movies to be my life for three years, and books for another two, but now with less chance to see movies, I’ll only see a few of the very best ones. It hasn’t recently been the case that I’ve had the time, energy, enthusiasm and opportunity to see twenty or thirty movies, then know from my those experiences which ones would or should be nominated for awards, and seeing the process along from the very beginning. So it was six years ago, and perhaps so again shall it be. But not now.
6. “They don’t make movies like they used to.” Fight Club. American Beauty. The Matrix. Three seminal movies, two more alike than the third, but all centered on a single man in a search for meaning in his life. Existentialism, fatalism, secular humanism, ism ism ism ism, lots of philosophy tossed around among the three. Get this: all three were released in 1999. I know how little I know, but I still don’t know of three current movies that would inspire me in the same wonderful, primal, intellectual, complementary way. Sure, it was a moment in time. It was trendy then. I can’t expect all movies to be as meaningful to me. But if that’s the case, I don’t have to be as excited about them.
Such is life.