Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How are the Oscar losers doing?

It's been more than a week now since the Oscars were handed out, and my mind turns to those who left the Academy hall empty-handed.

The winners get to make those gushing speeches in front of a billion people, and have their pictures taken holding the little gold statue, and get feted and congratulated until the sun comes up. But what do the losers do? I've always wondered about their state of mind. Everyone repeats the cliche of "It's an honor just to be nominated," but of course they really wanted to win. Even Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo, stars of tiny little indie movies who had zero chance of prevailing, must have entertained scenarios in their head of walking briskly up to the podium and getting handed an Oscar.

So how must it feel for the Mickey Rourkes and Meryl Streeps and Viola Davises, who had legitimate shots at winning? Rourke in particular was quite vocal about how much he'd like to win, and what it would mean for his career. He was riding a magical wave of redemption, a fairy tale story that isn't complete unless he gets to take the prince home with him (a little gold-plated one).

I don't have a very good point of reference to compare to. I've won my share of journalism prizes, and been honored to do so. But I'll admit that the arbitrary nature of the process is confounding. I once had a story win the top award in the regional SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) contest covering all of the Southern states, but failed to win anything in the same category in the state SPJ contest. And I'll admit that occasionally I've won an award for stuff I did not feel constituted my best work.

So to all those who are sitting empty-handed and empty-hearted, buck up. There's always next year.

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