Quality, Popularity, and Oscars

When we first talked about the Oscars in class, I thought, “Oh, this will be so cool!  The movies I saw this year will do great!  I’ll get to cheer them on and-“

 “Um…  Amour?  Argo?  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  I’ve never heard of these…  But, they’re probably good if they’re nominated…  At least I know what the others are about.  Vaguely.”

“But that’s OK, because I’m sure I’ll have someone to root for in actors and actresses!”

“…I didn’t see any of the movies they got nominated for.  I saw Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and I saw a stage production of Les Mis, but that doesn’t quite count…”

“Y’know, The Avengers came out this year, and it’s the third-highest grossing film of all time, and so did The Hobbit – it got over $960 million!  They must be in the running for some categories!”

“…The Hobbit is in makeup/hairstyling, production design, and visual effects.  Just three.  The Avengers is in visual effects.  Just one.”

“…”

“…How come comic book movies never get nominated~?”  I just don’t know why, Hugh Jackman.

I respect people who watch all these different films and have informed opinions.  (Like Carly, for instance.)  I am most certainly not one of those people.  It takes something big to get me off my rear and go to the theater, so usually it’s a big-budget, splashy film.  Essentially, it’s the stuff that’s popular.

I got to thinking about how complicated popularity and quality are.  On the one hand, if something is wildly popular, then there’s something in it that appeals to audiences.  The Avengers isn’t one of those deep, thought-provoking films, but it is a ton of fun to watch (especially if you’re a fan).  On the other hand, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good.  (I’m looking at you, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.)

The problem with me and reviewing films is that I really have no frame of reference other than my personal opinion.  Critics, at least, are aware of general traits that make a film stand above the rest.  I suppose all I can really say for certain is that if the public was allowed to have a say in the Oscars, the divide between them and the Academy would be miles wide.

What do you think of this popularity/quality business?  Is there anything you’d like to add, or anything I’ve missed?  Feel free to leave a comment!