Europe is preening itself over its winnings at the 2013 Academy Awards. And according to columnist Susanne Ostwald of Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Europeans are more enthusiastic about the awards than ever, since thanks to fast global distribution, European moviegoers now get to see all the movies that are nominated before the Oscars are handed out.
Europe again emerged as a winner on Oscar night, insofar as Austrian director Michael Haneke deservedly won the award for Best Foreign Language Film for his tender old age drama Amour – and his countryman Christoph Waltz won his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in a film by Quentin Tarantino, first for Inglorious Bustards and now for Django Unchained. And the exceptional performance of Britain Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln earned him his third Academy Award for Best Actor, a record in Oscar history. At this point, it wouldn’t be amiss to remember that the first person ever awarded an acting Oscar was also European: German Emil Jannings was awarded the Best Actor prize in 1929 for his roles in American films The Last Command and The Way of all Flesh.
The European film industry is much more important in the U.S. today than in past decades, and that doesn’t include the countless remakes of European films made by American directors, such as the comedy Prince Avalanche, based on an Icelandic film and recently honored at the Berlin Film Festival. European movie audiences watch the Oscars with greater interest than ever, because they are now better able to enter the discussion. In the past, most American films being honored hadn’t yet been shown in European movie theaters, so viewers didn’t have a chance to understand the nominees. Now, however, there are virtually no movies that haven’t been shown in our theaters before the awards are presented. In an era of vanishing movie theaters and declining attendance, Hollywood has recognized that it cannot survive without the European market – nor does it want to. As a result, movies are exported early enough to allow them to commercially benefit from the media hype surrounding the Academy Awards. It’s a win-win situation, because the public here is happy to be able to cast an Oscar vote of its own so to speak at the movie box office.
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