September 5, 2002

An Unsettling Trend

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March 30, 1992: The L.A. County Music Center, Los Angeles, California.

On that warm spring evening, the Academy Awards were at the focus of the entertainment world, and on that night, the classic thriller The Silence of the Lambs upset the critically acclaimed favorite Bugsy to win the honor of Best Picture of the year. What makes that event even more surprising is that the wide release date of The Silence of the Lambs was February 14, 1991. That’s right — a film released in the first third of the calendar year won the most coveted Oscar statuette.

Now, over a decade later, many simply assume that the big winners on Oscar night are those films that are released in the final three or four months of the year. And guess what: the same will happen this year. Why? Because production companies are well-aware of this trend, and so the supposedly important viewers must wait until the late fall and early winter to see the truly impressive films. On the other side of the coin, the Academy members responsible for nominating also seem to forget the spring and summer movies, strong though they may be. Would Shakespeare in Love really have beaten out Saving Private Ryan if the latter had been released in the winter as well? I doubt it.

So will critically acclaimed movies of this summer, like Insomnia and Road to Perdition, both of which are superb films, be remembered by the beginning of 2003? I only hope they will be, because, at least for me, out of sight is not out of mind.

Archived article by Avash Kalra