Saturday, October 24, 2015

Crossroads

When Dorothy first sets out on that yellow brick road, she does so with a nimble bounce in her step and an irrepressible smile on her face. Never minding the fact that she's been credited with manslaughter and had her life (and the life of her pet) threatened by a green-faced hag, she skips to the infectious singing of hundreds of Munchkins, comfortable with the simplicity of her instructions to merely "follow the yellow brick road", which appears fairly straight forward -- at least as painted on the wall of the soundstage at MGM.
One dissolve later, and she finds herself standing at a crossroads, wracked with indecision. Her journey -- though still musically bright and vibrantly Technicolored -- is only going to get more challenging, more frightening, and darker before it gets lighter. No doubt she'd love to just keep walking back-and-forth along the sunny, nonthreatening stretch of road she already knows; Avoid the dark forest, the poisonous poppy field, the witch's castle...

She'll never get home... but at least that early stretch of road ain't so bad...

But she'll never get home... but at least she's never far from the safety of Munchkinland...

But she'll never get home... but at least she has Toto to keep her company...

But she'll never get home.

Semi-regular readers of my little blog (all 5 of you) may have noticed a significant deceleration of output over the last couple of months. The fact is I'm standing at my own yellow brick crossroads, and I need to make a decision about this hobby of mine if I want to move forward on my own life journey.

First of all, for those who would rather not scroll through this entire post, allow me to be clear: awardsnazi.blogspot.ca will NOT be coming to an end and will NOT be taken offline. But nor will it be operating at nearly the same capacity as it normally does.

For those who are willing to indulge a flimsy Wizard of Oz metaphor (a movie I haven't written much about, but which easily figures into my top ten films of all time), maybe you'll bear with me. It's hard for me to explain my decision without going back to the beginning...

I only started reading Oscar blogs about nine years ago -- my first time away from home with an unlimited Internet connection -- when there was already a small but firmly established online community of sites for Oscar enthusiasts; I specifically frequented Kris Tapley's In Contention, Sasha Stone's Oscar Watch, and Nat Rogers' The Film Experience, among some others. As a maturing film fanatic who had only ever observed the awards race from the Entertainment section of my local paper, I was incredibly grateful for this "Oscarweb":

I was grateful to know that there were others out there as excited about the Academy Awards as I was (nobody I personally knew was quite as interested);
I was grateful for the insight they provided on all the savagery and nuance of this 6-month season (which I had spent years misinterpreting as a 6-week sprint between nominations and the big night); And I was grateful for the opportunity to share my own thoughts (misguided or not) with others. I continue to be grateful that these sites are still going strong to this day under different URLs, titles or corporate mastheads, along with the other swell movie sites that they inspired.
Like Dorothy first finding her footing on that tiny spiral of yellow brick, I was growing more confident in my understandings and more ambitious in my opinions of this subculture, but I was basically walking in circles. There simply wasn't enough space in the comment sections for me to say all I wanted to say. I was also coming to recognize Internet comment sections as the acrid environments they are, where punk-ass kids (and adults) bicker so loudly, they drown out any semblance of intelligent conversation. I had to grow out of my own punk-ass phase before seeing that this was no way to share ideas.

I needed my own platform. I spent about 30 minutes creating a blogspot account (named for a favourite Seinfeld character), and then with a hop in my step and an open road of golden-paved possibility before me, I began writing. I didn't care who was reading, and I imagine nobody was. The liberation of publishing my opinions is what drove me. Anything film-related went on the blog.

Looking back on that first March in 2008 fills me with nostalgia and embarrassment and ironic perspective:

I posted a late postmortem of the recent telecast, in which I expressed my dismay over certain craftspeople remaining ungilded, my joy over a beautiful song performance, my disdain that the host would take the heat for poor ratings, and opined, "The Oscars aren't for people who are only going to complain about they're predictability, dullness, and campiness. The Oscars are for people who love the movies." How little things have changed.

I posted my reaction to industry news, like the folding of New Line Cinema,
and naively hoped it would at least kibosh the proposed Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit. Silly me. That turned out three times worse than any of us could've imagined.

I began posting super early predictions, one category at a time. I went 2/3 in Makeup and Animation, 3/5 in Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Lead Actor, and named four of the five eventual Lead actress nominees (although I had Winslet in Supporting for The Reader, as did everybody until nomination day ten months later!). I even went out on a limb for WALL-E as a Best Picture hopeful -- It probably came closer to cracking the top five than any animated film since Beauty and the Beast. Pixar would go on to receive their due recognition in the top category the following two years.

I began watching more movies every year, eager to see as many of the eventual nominees as I possibly could (I achieved a personal best just this past year: Every single nominated film except for Wim Wenders' documentary Salt of the Earth).
I began writing primitive review-like articles. My inaugural one was for Kimberly Pierce's Stop Loss, to which I gave three stars. Generous for a movie I remember almost nothing about.

Years passed. My tastes evolved. My appreciation diversified, not just for films themselves but for film writing, as more and more sites populated the Oscar web and new excellent critics began rising to prominence. My own reviews became more refined. I had to work at it (I'm no journalist), but I enjoyed working at it.

This is all just a roundabout way of saying that I liked this outlet for my cinematic musings. I really liked it. I danced down this road with joy...
But it's a dream world.

The Internet is not so terribly different from the merry old land of Oz. Sure, it's full of witches and trolls and people as stubborn as apple trees, who refuse to budge except to hurl abuse. But it's also a place where the brainless can gain enlightenment, where the heartless can learn sensitivity, and where the meek can find courage.

If I could live in this Oz, strolling the same easy path I've been strolling the last seven-and-a-half years, I would. But I can't. I live in the real world, where you can't afford not to answer when career opportunities come a-knockin', especially in this day and age. I have to accept now that I don't have time to do all the things I love, which include writing incessantly about movies and the Academy Awards.

Does that mean I'll stop? Hell. No.

I couldn't possibly go cold turkey, especially not on the cusp of what's bound to be a whirlwind four months for movie lovers. But it means I have to be realistic about what I can and can't do.

From now on I won't be writing full reviews. I won't be regurgitating news items or lists of nominations/winners that you can read anywhere else, and I won't be writing timely or extensive reactions to such news items. I won't be able to do Oscar predictions one category at a time, or do individual category write-ups for my own personal awards. And I won't be able to spend an entire week writing multiple postmortems of the big show.

But I'm not turning the lights off completely. I hope and intend to shift formats. You can expect condensed weekly or biweekly summaries that include brief thoughts on new movies I've seen and my reactions to any big news of the week. You can expect the prediction sidebar and review/ratings pages to stay updated. You can expect some special posts throughout the season, such as the live-blog of the Golden Globes and SAG Awards (always a yearly treat), predictions on the eve of nominations and of the Oscars, and perhaps the unveiling of a proper top ten list before posting my own award winners.

Most of all, you can probably expect to see more activity from me on Twitter. The sheer volume of Oscary thoughts beating around my head is not going to diminish --- Just the amount of time I can spend articulating them. So I'm going to have to get used to communicating in Tweet-able mental nuggets, and one is often not enough. You can always see my most recent Tweets on the sidebar or follow my handle @Awards_Nazi.

Simply put, I'm not going anywhere. I hope you'll continue to drop by every once in a while to see what weekly blather I have to offer. And I certainly hope you don't feel shy about striking up a Twitter conversation (blogging is fun and all, but also a bit one-sided, don'tchya think?).

To that end, I thank everybody who ever stopped by here once or twice to check out what I had to say. This is a modest blog with a modest audience, which I've never felt any particular desire to expand. But the truth is I probably would have given it up well before now if I didn't know someone, somewhere was reading. If you're one of those someones, thank you. You've made this a place I could call my online "home", and like they say, there's no place like it.

3 comments:

  1. Back in 2009, I stumbled onto a video of yours on your YouTube channel, where you tried to predict the Best Original Score nominees for that year. This was I think back when all the nominees were announced, but that was the first time I heard of you, and heard of someone like me, a young man from Canada who liked movies and awards to the point of it being almost sickening. True, I have a life outside of the Internet much like everyone else, but I really enjoy seeing this guy's reviews and thoughts on a variety of formats.

    I am relieved that Mr. Nazi isn't retiring, but if you can only go brief capsule reviews and summaries every week (not sure the weekday though), then I understand. Trust me, I do. The world is filled with horrible people who don't, but I do. Sharing opinions about films is a very fun pastime and I hope we can continue this for many years to come.

    And I'll always be around to read your stuff as long as you keep getting stuff out in any amount.

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  2. You came close to bringing me to tears there.

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  3. I've been following your content for nearly six years and I always enjoy coming back to hear what you have to say. Thank you for everything you have done and everything you will be doing in the future. Good luck!!

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