Skip to main content

Confessions of an Oscar freak

By Tim Allis
updated 4:09 PM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
<strong>Best picture nominees: </strong>"American Hustle" (pictured), <strong>"</strong>12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Captain Phillips," "Her," "Gravity," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Nebraska" and "Philomena" Best picture nominees: "American Hustle" (pictured), "12 Years a Slave," "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Captain Phillips," "Her," "Gravity," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Nebraska" and "Philomena"
HIDE CAPTION
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
86th Academy Awards nominations
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • If you watched early morning Oscars nominations, you're in Tim Allis' Order of Oscar Freaks
  • Allis: It's not just a horse race: Oscar mania is the spectacle, the show, the history
  • Allis: Academy of Old couldn't have imagined dwindling viewership, competition from TV
  • Despite its excesses, he says, Oscars are a great national tradition, with a little magic

Editor's note: Tim Allis is an editor and writer based in Atlanta. He was a senior editor at In Style for 12 years and has written for People, Saveur, Men's Health, Best Life and Out, among others.

(CNN) -- If you set your alarm this morning for quarter-past ungodly (California time) to catch the predawn announcement of the Oscars nominations, then we're in the same twisted little club. The Order of the Oscars Freaks.

Years before Oscars handicapping became an official Olympics sport -- What? It's not? -- two fellow Oscars-obsessed friends and I made an annual game of trying to predict who'd get nominated. I never won (I tied once), but I never lost my enthusiasm for it; that is until every magazine and website came along with their own predictions and took the fun out of it.

Tim Allis
Tim Allis

This year for old times' sake we revived our game, only doing the best actor category because it's been an impossibly full year of great male lead performances that have stumped the prognosticators.

My 14-year-old nephew Miles was in on it because he's been a rabid Oscar fiend since he was at least, oh, 12. Call out a category -- best actress say -- and a year -- 1966 -- and he'll holler back "Julie. Christie, not Andrews." Am I proud, or concerned? Today the results came in and we all tied with four corrects each, but with different names on our lists.

Jude must have known Christian Bale had the gale winds of "American Hustle" at his back. David, a great strategist, and Miles the Scorsese devotee, both recognized Leo DiCaprio's high standing with the Academy, even if Miles won't be seeing that film anytime soon, I pray. We all had faith in Bruce, Matthew and Chiwetel (funny how we know them all by first name.) I held out for Robert Redford because, well, he's Redford, and because I'm un-young. That should teach me to stop leading with my heart. But did anyone ever imagine that betting against Mr. Oscars himself, Tom Hanks, could pay off? If I had I would have won for once.

Of course, Oscar mania is not just about the horse race. It's also the spectacle, the show around the show. The history. I'm a diehard. I haven't missed an Oscars since I got hooked as a teen. My favorite year was 1978, the night Jane Fonda and Jon Voight took the best leads categories for "Coming Home." Justice! Glory!

Oscars: Who was snubbed?
Oscar nominations
The best actor nominees are ...
The best actress nominees are ...

As a professional plower of the fields of celebrity, with a license to fawn and gush (want to see my card?) I've attended the Oscars, been inside the crimson cocoon, felt the collective shock when "Shakespeare In Love" beat "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture. I've stepped on a few gowns. Not even the cruel realization that there are essentially two red carpets -- velvet stanchions separate the stars on one side from the rest of us attendees -- could squelch my blind and blinded-by-the-flashbulbs enthusiasm.

But like most true believers I have my moments of doubt. If you are not in our little club, I get where you're coming from.

To the Osc-nostics it is all too much, too little, and certainly, should you try to slog through the entire three-and-a-half hour ceremony on March 2, too late. It is kind of preposterous: over-hyped, over-scored, overwrought.

In poor Oscar's defense, for the past decade or so Hollywood's big night has had to suffer indignities that the Academy of Old couldn't have imagined: dwindling viewership, the cultural-relevance supremacy of TV over movies, an attention deficit that just can't sit still for the live-action shorts category, acting and directing victories basically pre-called by critics and Tweeters and bookies, James Franco.

There's desperation in the air. Oscar's been trying too hard. This year's host Ellen Degeneres will take care of some of that, I'm sure. You never see her sweat. Plus, there's red carpet fatigue, as the Oscars limp on high heels to the finish line of a bloated awards season as overextended as Christmas and the NFL. Critics' awards, the People's Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards — you can only cut to a reaction shot of Jennifer Lawrence so many times before it constitutes stalking. But is it Oscar's fault that everyone else wants in on the action?

I recognize the madness -- struggle with it -- but it's hopeless. I just can't shake my addiction. Will I sound like I'm on the Academy's payroll if I argue that the Oscars really are a great national tradition? Movies, of course, which might actually be getting better. And stars, our collective guilty delight. And glamor, maybe even a modicum of sophistication.

And there are less-lofty traditions to savor: Carping about his speech, dissing her dress. Trying to catch a loser register a little disappointment. Enduring campy production numbers with aerialists. Dutifully filling out the ballots at your friend's Oscars party even if the only movie you saw that year starred Adam Sandler. It's all part of the ritual. The knowing that it's all too much, but the kind of too much that some of us just can't get enough of.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tim Allis.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT