This Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out awards like it has each year for the last 86 years. There will be a delightful host ushering along the festivities, beautiful accepting awards from beautiful people and snarky comments from writers and cine-geeks that still cannot believe there movie was slighted. But my question is this: does winning an Academy Award really matter that much?
Contemporary society places a premium on awards and recognition. It’s why sports figures are judged by their MVPs and championships, writers secretly wish to one day win a Pulitzer or AMSE award and physicists work towards a Nobel prize. Yet, in all those instances, there is only one winner: the person that actually takes home the award. Have you ever heard someone introduced on a talk show as a ‘two-time Super Bowl runner-up’ or ‘Nobel Prize nominee’? It’s because the nominees don’t receive the recognition; the winners do. Yet with the Oscars, being nominated seems to be its own award. Actors proudly wear the badge of being ‘Oscar-nominated.’ Studios use nominations to tout the accomplishments of their cast in a trailer. It seems that winning is almost just an ancillary benefit of the real award: begin nominated for an Oscar. So if somehow, Matthew McConaughey or Jared Leto or Lupita Nyong’o do not come away winners (which is incredibly unlikely), they can hang their hat on being nominated. (But screw that, they better win.)