As the Oscar season approaches, one argument we’re hearing more and more often is that this or that actor, director, or movie is obviously “thirsty” for an Oscar, and that such a thing is worthy of mockery.
This was said for a long time about Leonardo DiCaprio, before he finally won a few years ago for The Revenant. The same charge was leveled for many years at Anne Hathaway, prior to her win for Les Miserables, and later at Bradley Cooper, before he came up empty last year in his quest for acting, directing, and writing Oscars for A Star is Born.
I love A.O. Scott’s work, and I’m no fan of 1917, but that being said, the critique is very unfair. And that’s because every movie with any kind of ambition is, on some level, thirsty for Oscars. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
…every movie with any kind of ambition is, on some level, thirsty for Oscars. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Oscars are an industry. If half of the year in film culture is taken up in obsession with superhero movies, the other half consists of endless speculation on which films will compete for, win, or fall desperately short of an Academy Award.
Studios pay massive amounts of money on campaigns to place ads, and in some cases launch covert negative smear campaigns against their rivals. Actors, directors, and other entertainers then embark on a nearly endless series of press tours, talk show appearances, luncheons, and much more.
With all of that going on, why shouldn’t the people competing for such awards actually want to win them? And why in the world would it be frowned upon to actually care about such things?
Sure, there are always movies each year which swing for the fences awards-wise and fall woefully short, which is always an amusing aspect for those that follow Oscar season. There’s even a very entertaining podcast on the subject, called This Had Oscar Buzz.
This year, we had releases like The Goldfinch, Motherless Brooklyn, and, of course, Cats, which chased Oscar buzz but ended up with just about none. These movies, like many of the genre, were at least interesting in the ways they failed. Well, Cats wasn’t, but the rest were.
And besides… it’s only doubly satisfying when a performer who’s been “thirsting” for an Oscar for years, like DiCaprio or Hathaway, finally wins one.
So, in short: Let actors be thirsty for awards. They’ve earned their thirst. And sometimes it’s even quenched.