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Forget the Oscars, here are the Whedon Oscars!

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“I’m not choosing between my favourite show and my favourite episode!  That’s insane troll logic!”

Joss Whedon

As everyone waits for the results of the Oscars to be announced, here’s your chance to vote in the unofficial, but arguably more interesting, Whedonverse equivalent awards.  (Call them the “Josscars”.)  Maybe there’s an alternate universe where these are the Oscars.  Except for the Best Picture category, the nominees were only posted yesterday, and the link was only posted to Whedonesque today, so there’s not much time to vote.  The awards are open until 7pm EST (midnight GMT), so unfortunately this post is not much more timely than Oz’s “We’re here to save you.” in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode ‘Gingerbread’…

The awards are organised by whyiwatch, who (if there were such a category) would definitely be a strong contender for Best Fan Campaign, for their classy, stylish Dollhouse site.

There are only 4-6 nominations in each category, which inevitably leaves out plenty of deserving nominees, but does at least make voting slightly less difficult.  As I commented when discussing SFX’s Whedonverse character poll a few months back, the Whedonverse is so rich that narrowing such things down is almost impossible.

However, my thoughts on the nominations follow.  Feel free to weigh in on them in the comments below, even after voting’s finished.  (Except Spike.  When I want your opinion, I’ll…  I’ll never want your opinion.)

Actor in a Supporting Role is a strong category, but Enver Gjokaj as Victor as Topher (in Dollhouse: ‘The Left Hand’) is probably the greatest example of an actor playing another actor’s character ever (and yes, that’s including Nicolas Cage and John Travolta as each other‘s characters in Face/Off, and Simon Pegg and Leonard Nimoy and Karl Urban in Star Trek).  Topher Brink (played by the brilliant Fran Kranz) is the best character in the show, and Enver Gjokaj plays him better than the guy who plays him.  (Although Dichen Lachman played an imprint who was either Topher or Topher‘s friend (it’s not entirely clear) in ‘Spy in the House of Love’, and she was brilliant.)

Cinematography is a really tough category ('Restless' and 'The Body' being very strong contenders), but I’d have to go for Lisa Wiegand for Dollhouse: ‘The Attic’ (though presumably some credit also has to go to the director of that episode, the stylish comic book artist John Cassaday, who worked with Joss Whedon on Astonishing X-Men).

Directing—either Joss Whedon for ‘Once More, With Feeling’ or Jonathan Frakes for ‘Belonging’—both amazing episodes with assured direction.

The Writing category is surprisingly weak (relatively speaking, that is, because the Whedonverse contains some of the best writing ever, in my opinion; by any usual standards, this category would be excellent).  There’s some very good writing there, but not the best-written episodes in the Whedonverse by any means—except for ‘Once More, With Feeling’, of course.  For example, Tim Minear is a genius, and one of the best writers in the Whedonverse, but those are far from his best episodes (overall, at least); ‘Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?’, and to a lesser extent, ‘Out of Gas’, are overrated as far as episodes of those shows go.  Jane Espenson and Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen are similarly awesome writers; the episodes chosen (‘Briar Rose’ and ‘Epitaph One’) are above average for them (that is to say, really good), but they’ve written lots of even better episodes.  (Though I suppose all of the episodes nominated are elegantly written, achieve what they aim for.)  This is all in my personal opinion, of course.

Best Picture— ‘Once More, With Feeling’ or Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, depending on if you’re going by best in context (of the show overall) or best as a standalone, respectively.  ‘Once More, With Feeling’ is the best episode of anything, ever; but Doctor Horrible works better on its own, and in fact is the best opening 45 minutes of any story in the Whedonverse.

Now some general thoughts:

If there were a lifetime achievement award (or outstanding contribution or whatever), it should clearly go to Buffy Summers—like the Class Protector Award that she wins in ‘The Prom’.

Not that the Oscars aren’t important (The King’s Speech will probably sweep the main categories, and mostly deservedly—it’s not the single best film of the year (that would be How to Train Your Dragon, followed by Toy Story 3), but it’s near enough that I’d be very happy for it), but the Whedonverse contains countless examples of scenes (and indeed, episodes) which are far deeper and more meaningful than the vast majority of films, which only a handful of films each year can even hope to come close to.  Of course, the medium of television (which the vast majority of Joss’ work uses) gives it an inherent advantage, with the much greater amount of screentime available affording the opportunity for much bigger stories (spanning much longer periods of time) with a commensurately greater emotional investment in the characters.  It’s about life.  Also, some of the finest writers in the medium of television (and, indeed, any medium) worked on Joss’ shows, resulting in an extremely high level of quality.

However, the Oscars do benefit from the variety that the yearly turnover of films brings.  Each year, there are hundreds of new films released that are eligible for the awards, and with past films ineligible, you’re guaranteed a completely different line-up every year (though arguably predictable voting patterns are another matter).  The Whedonverse, on the other hand, only has a few new entries each year (aside from comics (which weren’t included in the nominations), maybe only the documentary Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope for this year?  Unless Captain America counts, or Cabin in the Woods is released before the year’s out?  (Or unless Jed and Maurissa and Zack sneakily finish off Doctor Horrible 2 while Joss is busy directing The Avengers?))

Given the seeming bias against superhero movies amongst the Academy, it seems unlikely that The Avengers will win, or even be nominated for, any of the Oscars that it may well deserve (though maybe in the technical categories).  Having said that, a couple of the actors who will be in The Avengers are nominated this year: Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) and Jeremy Renner (The Town).

(The following paragraph contains possible spoilers for the end of Buffy Season 6.)

In one sense, awards don’t matter in the broad scheme of life.  A lot of the Whedonverse is about being an outsider, and keeping on doing the right thing despite a constant lack of recognition, despite all the terrible things that life can throw at you.  For example, Xander not winning Class Clown in ‘The Prom’: at the time, it’s devastating for him (and the audience), but ultimately it makes no difference.  He’s still hilarious, awesome Xander, his friends still care about him, and he still cares about them, in the exact same way (and ultimately, at the end of Season 6, as a direct result of this, he’ll go on to save the world).

WhedonOscars

See also:

Live Blog: 2011 Academy Awards


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