Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'

Voters found film 'too upsetting' to watch

By Christopher Hooton, The Independent, 08 March 2014

For those of us who weren't doing slow, emphatic clapping with tears streaming down our faces when 12 Years A Slave inevitably scooped the Best Picture prize at the 2014 Oscars, there was the lurking suspicion that the film's triumph might have had as much to do with its subject matter as its actual quality.

As host Ellen DeGeneres put it, to equal laughs and winces from the audiences: "Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists."

Worse than the chance that some Academy members bypassed their critical faculties after viewing Steve McQueen's film and voted for it out simply of a sense of duty though, is new reports claiming that some plumped for it without even having watched the movie.

A Los Angeles Times article on the Oscars states:

'Two Oscar voters privately admitted that they didn’t see 12 Years A Slave, thinking it would be upsetting. But they said they voted for it anyway because, given the film’s social relevance, they felt obligated to do so.'

Putting aside the fact that grown adults couldn't bring themselves to watch not a snuff film but a historical drama, in spite of that being their one job, the report lends weight to the view that cinematic excellence does not always come first at the Academy Awards.

12 Years A Slave also picked up awards in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay categories at the ceremony, while Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity was the most decorated film with seven prizes.


Katherine Williams: So? Academy members don't watch most of the films they vote for. This isn't new information. There were NINE different films up for Best Picture this year. And dozens more nominated in other categories. Do you really think any Academy member watched them all? Of course not. That would take time and a modicum of effort. Watching movies is for film critics and peasants. Academy members vote for the movies they've heard are good or ones that were made by people they know or ones that they saw a good clip of on a late night talk show. Most would never deign to actually WATCH the movies.. (unless the Academy paid them to.)

Zim: I haven't seen it either, but I still demand a recount.

Sylva Portoian: Help the Armenians to produce films on "Slayery" how Turks killed our grand fathers and took all our lands belonging still the world support them against Russia...Shame on all christian governments if they call them selves they pray and know Jesus ...they are all godless...they care for money and how to enjoy life...!!!

cecil renfield: Just another fairy-tale with a Hollywood twist. Entertainment for suckers lacking sense.

Artie_Fufkin : I think i've worked out how Leo can win an oscar! [But he already starred in Blood Diamonds. And wasn't in some KILL WHITEY! movie?]

Mustapha Khunt: It was badly directed. Sorry but it was.

Flats in Dagenham: racist

JoeDM: Not surprised. It is not that good a film, but it had to win otherwise it would seem that the Academy was 'racist'.

MeganBToo: People are surprised? I am surprised it didn't win more oscars just because who dared to vote against it.


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