Sunday, February 25

The Emmy Test: Putting My Thesis About The Power of TV as an Intimate Medium To the Test

I did not see a single marquee this past year featuring the title of any of the films nominated for Best Picture. Add to my ignorance the fact I have now use Netflix instead of my local video store. When I browse my Netflix account online I gravitate to the HOT current releases-- but I bypassed The Departed. I ordered Man of the Year instead. It's not that Man of the Year is just sounds more fun to watch when you're tired of shoveling snow. That said, I'll put money on Little Miss Sunshine or The Queen as the winner. I sense both translate better to DVD and home viewing over the others.

As for The Queen, it may translate to home viewing best, since it's based heavily around the death of Princess Diana-- a live news event that played out on television. My thesis for picking the Best Picture is based around what translates well for the home viewer. It's tied to stories dependent on close-ups and relationships. Stories built around grand, sweeping wideshots such as epics don't shift to television sets well-- perhaps HDTV will help with that. Think about this-- most of the voting members of the Academy don't go to the theater to screen films-- and since they get freebie DVDs from the studios to screen in the privacy of their own homes (and most probably watch in their bedrooms or kitchens now), the quieter, interpersonal stories dependent on close-ups win in this day and age. These are the movies that are visually ready for television-- and become more memorable. Don't agree? Consider which movie was more important and clearly a BETTER film: Saving Private Ryan or Shakespeare in Love? Shakespeare in Love received the Best Picture Oscar.

Let's consider last year. I predicted the win for Crash over Brokeback Mountain.

While Brokeback was really Romeo and Juliet with a gay twist, it was embedded in the grand, sweeping vistas of Ang Lee's vision of a theatrical film release targeting the big screen viewers. Crash is perfect for television viewing. The movie was even shot and edited like a television drama. The director's career spanned heavily across the television landcape and included associations with a number of popular shows from sitcoms and L.A. Law. It also helped that Crash was set in L.A. and with nearly every voting member in the Academy living in the Los Angeles area, it had the hometown crowd. Babel and Letters From Iwo Jima look like movies made for the "big screen" from the trailers. So I'll bet on The Queen or Little Miss Sunshine as the stories as well as the visual storytelling techniques are cloesly connected to the intimacy that connects with viewers at home via the television screen.

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