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'A sense of validation' | Why people still care about the Oscars

“Just like any industry, there's kind of like a fear of being lost in the shuffle."

CALIFORNIA, USA — Toward the end of the March, the film industry will recognize the best achievements their craft had to offer. However, by that time, many of those achievements will have been recognized at least a few times over by a slew of award shows leading up to the Oscars.

For the casual viewer or a general audience, it begs the question as to why they would care about the results of yet another award show. 

On the way to the Oscars, dedicated viewers might wind up watching the Golden Globes in January, the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the end of February, the Critics Choice Awards, the British Academy Film Awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars) and maybe even the Independent Spirit Awards.

“On that level, they're caring less and less. And partly, it's because there are so damn many award ceremonies happening of all sorts that it begins to dilute the sense that any one of them really is important,” said Robin Russin, playwright and professor of theater, film and digital production at UC Riverside.

On the way to the Oscars, dedicated viewers might wind up watching the Golden Globes in January, the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the end of February, the Critics Choice Awards, the British Academy Film Awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars) and maybe even the Independent Spirit Awards.

All of the ceremonies are prestigious in their own right, and generally, many have the same goal, to recognize outstanding achievement in film and their industry. Granted, each one might have their own niche, such as focus on independent movies or the actors themselves.

Nonetheless, the Oscars has been long considered the “big gun,” according to Russin.

RELATED: To keep ratings up, Oscars is cutting show down in major announcement

With more than 10 million viewers in 2021, the Academy Awards is undoubtedly a big draw and a source of fun for people, whether it be for the glamour and fashion on the red carpet or rooting for their favorite actors or movies. 

For people like Catherine Benamou, a professor of film at UC Irvine, there’s a cultural aspect at play as well. 

“It's important to see the degree to which films are beginning to reflect our society and in what ways they reflect our society. So, that's why I pay attention,” she said.

She noted that there were big efforts to diversify the Academy, the 10,000 person body behind the awards, by inviting Black, Indigenous and people of color to join, and that is has changed the landscape of the Oscars.

“I think it's a certain self-consciousness now about diversity in the awards, and I think that people do care about it, even people who say they don't care about the Oscars, they still care about the awards and the kind of recognition that's been given to diverse members of the Academy,” Benamou said.

Russin picked up on the same changes, noting that even people who don’t really watch the Oscars are noticing the change that's happening in the movie industry. 

“I think that some people are looking to the Oscars to see recognition of the kind of movies that maybe weren't recognized before and the kind of people making them that weren't recognized before,” he said.

However, while the ceremony is a spectacle that millions enjoy from home, the award and original purpose of the award is to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of people both in front of and behind the camera.

“Just like any industry, there's kind of like a fear of being lost in the shuffle. And that there won't be recognition for people who really work hard at their roles and that their craft,” Benamou said.

Without the award, experts say there’s basically just an industry and environment where it’s difficult to succeed.

“In terms of recognition, I think it's important for people who live in a world and participate in a career that's so full of disappointment and rejection that, when you do get nominated or win it…, it's a sense of validation -- that their peers have recognized the quality of what they do,” Russin said.

RELATED: In historic first, 3 women will host this year's Oscars

WATCH MORE: Sacramento has a hometown hero in the competition for Best Actress at the 94th Academy Awards. Before her nomination, Jessica Chastain spoke with ABC10's Mark S. Allen about the role that earned her an Oscar nod and just how deep her Sacramento roots go.

Jessica Chastain talks about her Sacramento roots and Tammy Faye


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