The hype of the Oscar's is always bigger than need be if you ask me. Our industry's biggest marketing tool is the award show, and Oscar holds the place of being the most valuable of all the awards. The reason for this is the theory that since it's only industry professionals voting for their own, they will only nominate those that are truly worthy. It's Hollywood's own certified creative expert panel giving nods to the truly worthy.
Which is why I think the awards have the most interesting impact on actors. Every year, and I mean every year, there are nominations made for movies, and songs, and performances that I just can't get my mind around. Nominations that make me feel like I just got out of class and know nothing of the real world. It's like the feeling I had as a kid when my dad's conversations with other grown-ups flew over my head but they were having a ball with the topic so I had to resign myself to the fact that that it was a subject I was to uninformed to enjoy and would have to wait until later to ask him about. When you read about how the voting works for the Oscars you feel like, well, I guess that's the way it should work. The members of that field should judge that field and make it appear to be more than a popularity contest, this should educate me at to how an artist perceives his fellow artists and his discipline, right? Who is a tougher critic of cinematography than a cinematographer?
For that reason I always study the nominations. I don't much care who WINS! I really try to reconcile how a movie (or performance, or director, etc..) that I thought was mediocre, got nominated. Am I short sighted? Jaded? Jealous? Is there something there I didn't see?
Or… is it a popularity contest?
The Oscars give us a chance for an education. A chance to ask 50 costume designers what they thought was great costume work. Surely there is no shortage of blabber about "brilliant, poignant, compelling" performances from the vanity press but what about simply looking at those performances that might not have moved you from a different point of view? It's a good practice to get in.
I raise the point because it hurts to think you should feel some other way about things because the award shows say you're wrong. No one should tell anyone what should effect them and how. Politicians make their living doing that, and they aren't artists. They're the opposite actually.
The Oscars can inform and remind you that whenever someone says "the best" about something as personal and subjective as art, you don't have to agree but you should use the opportunity to see why someone, or anyone, thought that was true.