Judd Apatow Wants a Comedy Oscar

My biggest pet peeve about Hollywood is the way that certain celebrities and filmmakers develop hyper-inflated egos. For example, when I was in college, I participated in an over-the-phone roundtable interview with Harrison Ford. He was promoting his terrible flick ‘Firewall‘. One student asked him an admittedly pretty lame and disconnected question. Through his reaction, “Mr. Ford” (as we were all told to call him) showed his true colors: “That’s a stupid question. I don’t even see how that’s relevant. Let’s move onto the next question.” 1) You’re interviewing with a bunch of newbie journalist majors. Do you really expect every question to be brilliant? 2) Who in the hell do you think you are to talk to someone like that? People don’t talk to other people like that in person. This false sense of power and popularity caused by celebrity is a joke, and last week we saw it go to Judd Apatow’s head once again.

At a sponsored, awards-centered party for ‘Bridesmaids’ (weren’t those parties supposedly banned by the Academy?), which he produced, Apatow talked about his campaign to get the Academy to create new Oscar categories for comedy films, since comedies typically get snubbed each year. While he may have a valid point, the rationale he used to back up his idea was ridiculous. Follow this link to watch the video where he sticks his foot in his mouth and digs himself deeper and deeper. The audience groans, and everyone stuck onstage with him looks embarrassed.

“There should be a Comedy category at the Oscars… Then we could get rid of the Key Grip category.” Um, Judd? You know there’s not really a Key Grip category, right? Have you ever actually watched an Oscar ceremony, or do you avoid it simply because you’re never going to be called onstage unless you’re presenting?

When the crowd makes its disapproval known, Apatow tries to patch things up by saying, “I love the key grips. They do a fantastic job, but at hour four [of the awards ceremony] I’d rather watch Zach Galifianakis come on than my friend Curtis.” How far out of your mind do you have to be to think Galifianakis deserves an Oscar? And further, since when did the Oscars become about seeing (occasionally) funny actors entertain us on stage? If you want that crap, you watch the Golden Globes, a sugar-coated popularity contest where winning an award really amounts to nothing. The Academy Awards are supposed to put on a credible show where solid filmmaking is rewarded. We watch the Oscars to see truly notable films and filmmakers receive merits for their accomplishments. If we want to see the cast of ‘The Hangover‘ shamelessly plug themselves, we watch the Golden Globes.

After talking about his “friend Curtis,” Apatow went on to claim that making a comedy is harder than making a drama. “I so wish that we could not have jokes in these movies. I would have so much less to do if [filmmaking] was the characters and conflict… Any movie with no laughs would take half as long. I think that ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was really easy to make because there were no laughs. Was it hard? I don’t think so.” Those of us who actually saw ‘Funny People’ know that it didn’t have any laughs in it. So you tell us, Mr. Apatow, was that one hard to make?

I’m not arguing the fact that comedies get snubbed at the Oscars. That’s another post for another day. But Apatow’s argument is asinine. There’s nothing more annoying than having to listen to a few pompous assholes in Hollywood talk about something because they think they’re important. Judd Apatow is 100 pounds shy of being the next Kevin Smith. Both started off loved and strong, but after one bad movie, turned into vocally arrogant fools. Both need to stop taking themselves so seriously and think about what they’re saying before opening their mouths. If sports players can be fined for letting absurd strings of thought flow uncensored from their mouths, so should filmmakers. I’m calling a technical foul on Judd Apatow for making no sense whatsoever. If I owned a business and made a series of dumbass claims time and time again, I’d lose business. Hopefully, that’s will happen to Apatow.


  1. JM

    Zach Galifianakis is high art.

    Judd Apatow is correct. The Oscars would be more reputable if they gave awards to Key Grips.

    I also think the little golden statues should be forged in the image of the winner, so that the winner could literally worship herself.

    And take it easy on Harrison Ford. Entertainment journalists are parasites.

  2. Can’t tell if trolling…

    I don’t get your argument. How would putting a comedy category into the Oscars cause people to shamelessly plug themselves?

    “Since when did the Oscars become about seeing (occasionally) funny actors entertain us on stage?”

    Since 1939. Bob Hope hosted for like 20 years. Johnny Carson had a run, and Billy Crystal hosted quite a few. I’d venture that more comedians hosted than “respectable” actors and directors.

    • True, by my argument is that we’re not watching because of who’s hosting (unless it’s The Globes, because the ONLY reason I’ve watched that broadcast two years in a row is Ricky Gervais), we’re watching to see who wins. I wouldn’t mind if Galifianakis hosted – but I sure as hell don’t think he nor any of the others from ‘The Hangover’ need any awards.

      I should have been more clear about that.

      • But why shouldn’t comedians win awards?

        As a comedy fan, I would have loved to see Gene Wilder and Peter Sellers get some recognition for their performances. Nominations are all well and good but a win would be better. Bill Murray and Robin Williams should have gotten some love before their serious roles. If there was an Oscar for Best Comedy, people like this wouldn’t be snubbed in favor of dreary serious films.

        I’m not saying the guys from ‘The Hangover’ should win either, mind you. I thought it was pretty overrated.

        • You’re bringing up good points that I agree with, but if you remember what I wrote – “I’m not arguing the fact that comedies get snubbed at the Oscars. That’s another post for another day.”

          I, too, love good comedies – but I think it’s fair to say that comedy isn’t what it used to be. For example, you note Gene Wilder and Peter Sellers. Should they have won Oscars? Hell, yes! Without a doubt. Be honest, which comedic actors nowadays deserve comedic Oscars? Which comedies deserve awards? I’m going to say very few. And how many comedic actors and comedic filmmakers actually put out comedies worth winning Oscars. I’m going to say very few again. You’d have the same five people winning awards every year. It would end up like the Animation category where Pixar wins every year (except for this year). Unless comedies stop trying to be funny solely out of vulgarity, swearing, dirty gags and trying-to-be-offensive content, they’re never going to offer content worthy of considering.

          • JM

            Is it even possible to name ten 2011 films worthy of a comedy Oscar?

            Midnight In Paris
            Horrible Bosses
            Our Idiot Brother
            The Rum Diary
            Attack The Block
            Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
            The Artist

            That’s the best I can come up with. Half of them might not even count.

            Which one gets the Academy Award for Best Comedy?

          • Ten films? Man, this ain’t best picture :p

            Luke, I think you’re really not looking at the same comedies that I am. I mean, saying that all comedies are just raunchy and stupid is like saying that all action movies are Transformers. It’s just not true. There’s a difference between ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Bullit’ just like there’s a difference between ‘Scary Movie’ and ‘Spinal Tap.’

            Though since you seem to hate ‘Funny People’ I’m not sure we’ll find common ground :p

  3. I think the real problem here is that segregating movies into different awards categories by genre inevitably leads to confusion and controversy. The Golden Globes ceremony splits its Best Picture nominees into Drama and Comedy/Musical categories. Its definition of each is frequently a joke, and you wind up with something like The Tourist nominated for Best Comedy/Musical. That movie is certainly not a musical, and the only comedy in it is the unintentional kind.

    Now, maybe that’s too extreme an example. The Tourist is just a flat-out bad movie that shouldn’t be nominated in ANY category. But even when it comes to GOOD movies, you wind up with the scenario where Fargo was nominated for Best Comedy/Musical. Is a serious movie that has a couple of funny scenes and some dark humor in it really a “comedy”?

    The Academy already has enough controversy now with its Animation category. You’d think that one would be cut-and-dry. Either a movie is animated or not, right? Well, no. There’s a lot of debate about whether motion capture should be defined as “animation” or not. Many people argue not. And what about something like Avatar that’s about 70% CGI with some live actors sprinkled about here and there, but that purports itself to be a “live action” movie?

    Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous rules for the Best Foreign-Language Film category. The Academy apparently believes that America and England are the only countries on Earth capable of producing more than one good movie per year.

    If the Academy creates a separate Comedy category, how long before advocates campaign for a Best Science Fiction Oscar, or a Best Horror Oscar, or a Best Western Oscar? (I bet the hotel chain would love that one.)

    To my mind, the Best Picture category should simply reward the year’s best film, irrespective of genre. True, the Academy has an inherent bias towards dramas. Perhaps that’s unfair, but surely there must be better ways to address that problem than by ghettoizing comedies into a separate category of lesser prestige or importance, the way that animation and foreign-language films have been.

    • That, Josh, is the best argument against it in my mind. There won’t be an animated best picture again thanks to the animation category.

      Dividing up the categories also runs us into the trouble that Luke was mentioning earlier. There just might not be enough and something like ‘Shrek’ will win. Awarding crappy movies Oscars just because they’re the only choices just isn’t okay.

      I feel like an Oscar category specifically aimed at Best Comedy would help to inspire studios to take risks with smarter and more interesting comedies that aren’t pandering to the lowest common denominator. I know it helps with dramatic pieces. People want that award and they’re willing to take some real chances to get it.

    • Also, off topic, how the crap was ‘Ponyo’ not nominated for an Oscar? ‘Bolt’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’ were in there and ‘Wall-E’ won despite the second half of the movie. What crap.

      Yeah, I’m angry two years later!

      • I didn’t dislike Ponyo, necessarily, but it’s certainly Miyazaki’s least interesting movie. Wall-E, despite its flaws, is a better movie. Kung-Fu Panda was better than either and should have won.

        The Academy’s rules for the Animation category are just as screwed up as the Foreign-Language category. Studios are only allowed to submit one movie each for nomination consideration. Because, like with foreign-language films, the Academy believes that animation studios are only capable of making one good movie a year.

        Since Miyazaki had already won an Oscar for Spirited Away, and Ponyo was a big box office dud in this country, Disney decided to put its weight behind Bolt instead. (The Academy still considers Pixar a separate studio, for some reason.)

    • JM

      I like the idea of the Oscars having genre categories.

      Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Action, Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Best Horror, Best Romance, Best Foreign, Best Animation, Best Indie.

      Three to five films in each category, and they all compete for Best Picture.

  4. Picknicker

    “Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous rules for the Best Foreign-Language Film category. The Academy apparently believes that America and England are the only countries on Earth capable of producing more than one good movie per year.”

    Uhm, the Oscar is organized by the AMPAS, i.e. the “American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences”. Notice the “American” in the name?

    Other countries are welcome to do the same. Oh, wait, what’s that? They do already? Like certain French, Italian and German film festivals that treat European movies as domestic movies, and American movies as foreign ones, and set up just one category for non-domestic flicks?

    Well. Better to get you not started on that topic.

    • EM

      It’s a little difficult to notice the American in the name when there is no American in the name. I’m not an expert, but I imagine that’s got something to do with the fact that the abbreviation begins with only one A, not two.

      It seems like the Internet has been like this ever since AOL got on.

  5. jonstamos

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure you misinterpreted a good portion of what Judd Apatow was trying to say. It’s pretty obvious that he was just trying to be funny regarding the key grip Oscar category. The whole comment is delivered with sarcasm. He’s using hyperbole to show that he thinks it’s ridiculous that you have a number of categories that the public has little interest (2 best documentary categories, 2 sound categories, 2 music categories, editing, makeup, visual effects) but only 1 film category where comedy is unappreciated.

    • EM

      Are you sure he wasn’t arguing against a comedy category? If (A) he is one of today’s top filmmakers in the comedy genre and (B) he’s not all that funny, a comedy category would seem ill-advised.