Expanded Thoughts: "The Miseducation of Cameron Post"

After I saw the film, I did what I always do: I pulled up the film's page on IMDb (I'm a sucker for the trivia page). The first thing I noticed was the film's rating: 6.8/10.

I don't necessarily disagree with the rating—If I had to give it a numeric rating, it'd be slightly higher1—but this review, "Could Have Done More" by allenwhybray caught my eye:

"Cameron starts humming "What's Going On" and within minutes is standing on the table singing it loud and proud. There's an inherent energy in that scene that often feels missing from the rest of the picture. Also, the people in this story are flesh-and-blood examples of a tragic emotional Stockholm Syndrome that should not be. I just wish the story did more with them."

As I read their review, I found myself agreeing with allenwhybray. I wanted there to be more energy in the film. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood why the filmmakers would choose not to.

When Cameron is caught in a lesbian tryst, she gets sent away for conversion therapy. In the aforementioned singing scene, it ends with the camp therapist giving Cameron mail privileges—with the subversive goal of having Cameron read a letter from her former lover, where she blames Cameron for "taking advantage of her". In one scene, the character Mark, angrily reacting to the news that his father won't let him come home—he is still "too feminine"—ends with Mark literally being kept down on the ground by the camp therapist's foot, while she tells Mark that she will only let him up when he calms down.

Any time a character has an outburst of emotion, or acts as their true self, they are punished. The film reflects the reality the characters were living in.
 

You can read my short review of this film and others over at 50words.reviews.

 

 

1. The inherent nitpicking that comes with a numeric score is exactly why I use an expanded up-down system at 50 Words or Less.

Let's Play A Guessing Game: "The Last Jedi" Edition

Back in 2015 I made a few predictions about the story and plot of The Force Awakens, and I ended up getting some right.

Unlike The Force Awakens, where I was watching and reading everything Lucasfilm put out in order to try and figure out as much as I could, with The Last Jedi, I've been actively avoiding trailers and errata in order to go in spoiler free. With that in mind, this time I only have three predictions, and only one concerns the plot:

  1. We won't get a solid answer concerning Rey's background. Some mysteries need a third movie. When The Force Awakens first came out, I was certain that she was a secret Skywalker. But the more I've thought about it, the less certain I've become. I think she's connected to the Skywalker's, but that could mean anything from being Luke's daughter or the theorized Kenobi love child. While I expect us to get hints to her parent's identity in this film, I don't think we'll get solid answers until the next one. [Watch as I'm wrong and Luke says "Rey, I am your father." in this movie.]
  2. Somebody loses an hand. It's tradition. In the second movie of a Star Wars trilogy, someone gets a hand chopped off by a lightsaber. If I was going to make a guess for bonus points, I'd say it's KyloBen. Because the last two times, it was the Skywalker who loses the hand. {Again, if Rey loses a hand...]
  3. Princess Leia's Theme will close out the end credits. A worthwhile tribute to the late Carrie Fisher.

As for the box office side of things, as I wrote awhile back, the average Star Wars saga film will open to $207 million, and would gross $705 million total in the domestic box office. I think The Last Jedi will perform slightly higher, and will open closer to $215 million, with a total gross of $730 million.

Predicting "The Last Jedi"

The trailer for The Last Jedi is out! Tickets are on sale! I've unsubbed from r/StarWars because I'm on spoiler alert! That means it's time to start guessing how much The Last Jedi is going to make at the box office!

Back when The Force Awakens came out, we all knew it was going to be big, but we were struggling with how to define it. When you're working on box office projections, you look at the soon-to-be-released film, compile a list of similar films to compare it to, and then use the box office performances of those films to come up with a guess of how the film in question will perform. For example, I would bet that 99% of people coming up with box office projections for Blade Runner 2049, a sequel to an 80s sci-fi thriller, compared it to Mad Max: Fury Road, a sequel to an 80s spec-fi action film.

There was nothing for The Force Awakens.

There was some who immediately wanted to compare it to Avatar. It too was a major blockbuster that had a December release, so surely The Force Awakens would perform similarly. A smaller opening weekend compared to your summer blockbuster—Avatar only made $87 million opening weekend—but it'll make up for that with long legs. But that comparison didn't feel right. Compared to The Force AwakensAvatar had been a quiet release. Star Wars hype was everywhere leading up to December. With every trailer, the fanbase would get more excited—from what we could tell, every problem and quibble we had about the prequels was being addressed. Industry tracking about audience awareness indicated that 100% of Americans knew that a new Star Wars film was coming out. You would've had to live in the mountains with no internet or human contact for at least five years to not know that a new Star Wars film was coming out. The hype was real.

Yet people still persisted in comparing The Force Awakens to other December releases. No December release had an opening weekend over $100 million, they'd say. Maybe Star Wars can, but there's no way in hell it'll cross $200 million. The most it could do was $175 million, and that's if the pun-intended stars aligned. r/boxoffice was convinced that anyone who thought it could hit $200 million on it's opening weekend was a fanboy, and had no idea what they were talking about. It's not that these people were necessarily wrong or foolish. They were trying to apply conventional wisdom to a film that increasingly looked like it would have an unconventional performance. I bucked the conventional wisdom. and sometime in November I had settled around a $215 million opening weekend. But as the opening day approached, I had good reason to doubt my numbers. A contact in-the-know offered insight into Disney's internal numbers: The Force Awakens had already sold $175 million in tickets for opening weekend, and we were still a week-and-a-half from release. After the initial sale of tickets in October, ticket sales had seemingly flatlined, but as we approached opening day, people were buying tickets almost as fast as theaters were putting them on sale. To this day I'm surprised this info never leaked—there's a reason why I noted that my $215 million estimate was conservative.

A few weeks before The Force Awakens opened, I was talking with the theater's then programmer and its former programmer—these were the guys who scheduled the showtimes and did the internal box office projections for our location1—and one posited the theory that we needed use a "historical comp" for The Force Awakens. Conventional box office prediction looks at recent releases; anything older than three to four years is out of date. Even comparing The Force Awakens to Avatar was pushing it, and the only reason Avatar was even brought up was that people were struggling to come up with recent films that felt like an accurate comparison. During our conversation, we concluded that the only film that had the same cultural awareness and hype was The Phantom Menace.

The only thing you can use to predict Star Wars is Star Wars.

When Rogue One was getting closer to release, I decided to test this theory. Management at the theater was prepping for Rogue One to be only slightly smaller than The Force Awakens. I argued that The Force Awakens was a statistical outlier. Since we couldn't find good comparisons for The Force Awakens, we then shouldn't use it to make predictions. It was its own beast, and to even think that anything would come close again in the near future was foolish. I decided that the best comparison film was, of all things, Revenge of the Sith. I felt that Revenge of the Sith had two things going for it. 1) It had been received warmly by the fanbase. 2) The latter two prequel films had little appeal in the general audience. Rogue One's marketing, and Disney's own expectations, made me think that they were expecting this film to appeal mainly to the fans, and not so strongly with the general audience. And since the fans had been energized by The Force AwakensRogue One would be greeted by an appreciative audience.

BoxOfficeMojo has a handy little feature that lets you adjust a film's box office gross as if it had been released a different year. The tool is by no means scientific, but it's good enough for what I needed. I adjusted Revenge of the Sith to get a 2016 estimate and got this: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - $380,270,577 Actual / $513,157,600 Adjusted to 2016Rogue One would go on to gross $532,177,324, a variance of $19,019,724, or 3.574%. So, while not perfect, it's pretty damn good.

At the time, I hadn't thought to try and use Revenge of the Sith to estimate an opening weekend gross for Rogue One. How audiences see movies has changed since 2005—over time, opening weekends have increasingly represented larger and larger chunks of the total gross. So, instead of looking at Revenge of the Sith's opening weekend numbers, a better idea would be to apply a multiplier to the anticipated total gross. If you've never followed box office results before, a multiplier is basically another way of saying how much of the film's total was made on opening weekend. For example, a multiplier of 2 would mean that a film's total gross will be double what it made opening weekend. A multiplier of 3 would mean its total gross would be three times the opening weekend numbers. In short, a higher multiplier is better. The average 'well-performing' blockbuster typically has a multiplier in the 3.0-3.5 range. So, if we take the adjusted Revenge of the Sith gross, and divide it by your average multiplier, 3.3, you would get an approximate opening weekend total of $155,502,300Rogue One made $155,081,681. So while the math is by no means perfect, it can at least get us in the ballpark.

So now, for The Last Jedi, the trick is figuring out what exactly we should use as a comparison. So let's look at all the Star Wars films, in release order and with adjusted grosses:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - $936,662,225
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - $532,177,324
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - $380,270,577 Actual / $513,157,600 Adjusted to 2016
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones - $302,191,252 Actual / $449,906,100 Adjusted to 2016
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - $431,088,295 Actual / $733,743,200 Adjusted to 2016
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - $252,583,617 Actual / $700,506,300 Adjusted to 2016
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - $209,398,025 Actual / $682,158,400 Adjusted to 2016
Star Wars: A New Hope - $307,263,857 Actual / 1,234,649,200 Adjusted to 2016

Here's that info as a handy dandy chart:
 

"Star Wars" Box Office Grosses (Adjusted)

Total Grosses adjusted using BoxOfficeMojo.com

While we might be quick to jump on the first obvious trend—that the second film each trilogy sees a considerable drop—I think using that to deduce potential box office numbers for The Last Jedi is a trap. The drop from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back is a whopping 44.75%, and Attack of the Clones sees an equally stunning 38.78% drop from The Phantom Menace. If The Last Jedi were to see a similar drop from The Force Awakens, the box office gross would only be $545 million. There are easy explanations for the earlier drops. Not only did The Empire Strikes Back receive a mediocre response upon its releaseA New Hope was such a massive hit, anything following was going to see a considerable drop. And Attack of the Clones was not only poorly received, but many in the fanbase felt like they’d been burnt by The Phantom Menace. However, a $545 million gross would align this film with the performances of Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. If this ends up being the final result, I see two possible reasons: Critics and the fans find The Last Jedi to be lacking, or the potential gross of the average Star Wars film is around $550 million. Either way, a result like this would be troubling for Disney and Lucasfilm.

However, I think we can take a more optimistic appraisal. First, both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were well received by fans and critics alike, so there's definitely more goodwill going into The Last Jedi. Secondly, Deadline already has tracking indicating that presale tickets are outperforming Rogue One, and are "just under" The Force Awakens. Finally, I think we should look more closely at the box office performances of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Phantom Menace. Why these three films instead of any of the others is simple. Both A New Hope and The Force Awakens are such extreme examples, that it's best to consider them to be statistical anomalies—including them would only skew the results. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith had been released to a leery fanbase and disinterested public after The Phantom Menace. While there is definitely an instinct to lump in The Phantom Menace with the other prequels, from a box office perspective, the film was largely unaffected by the scorn it developed among the fanbase. And Rogue One was intended to be a "smaller" release compared to the "Saga" films. That leaves The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Phantom Menace. If these three films are indicative of the average performance of a Star Wars saga film, than the average potential domestic gross is around $705 million.

But how about the opening weekend? The Force Awakens had a multiplier of 3.78 and Rogue One had a multiplier of 3.43. I would hazard a guess that The Last Jedi will perform closer to Rogue One than it will to The Force Awakens—it was the sequel many had been waiting over 30 years for, it was destined to over-perform. So let’s guess that a typical Star Wars film performs with a 3.4 multiplier. So, a $705 million gross with a 3.4 multiplier gets us an opening weekend number of $207 million.

The method used to get these numbers is by no means scientific, but this gives us decent guidance for The Last Jedi, and possibly for future Star Wars releases.

Let's All Go to the Movies

MoviePass, the nifty little subscription service everyone's abuzz about, recently slashed the price of its service. It used to be as high as $45 a month, but now you can get it for the low, low price of $9.95 a month. So, for what it costs you to stream Netflix in HD, once a day you can go to the theater and see a 2D, non-IMAX screening of the latest film. And for those of us in major metropolitan areas, it's a steal. Here in Los Angeles, $9.95 is only a few dollars more than a matinee ticket at the cheap theater closest to my apartment.

Now, the battle to put butts in seats is one that the theaters have been fighting and losing since the 1940s, so anything that could possibly bring more people in is a good thing, right?

Right?

If that were the case, why would this be the headline in the Los Angeles Times the same day that MoviePass announced their new pricing:

See unlimited movies for $10 a month? Not so fast, says AMC Theatres

AMC Theatres has publicly declared their intent to find a way to block MoviePass at their theaters. And as Polygon reported, AMC Theatres stopped participating in a MoviePass pilot program that allowed subscribers to see 3D and IMAX films. All this despite The Hollywood Reporter headlines such as  "Moviegoing Slows to a Standstill Amid Historic August Slump" and "Summer Box Office Suffers Historic Decline in U.S."

To understand why the exhibitors aren't on board with MoviePass, we need to examine the realities of movie theater attendance. As much as the industry and the press would like you to think that attendance is in free fall, if you were to dig through the data and chart the annual ticket sales from 1980-2016, you'd get this:
 

North American Ticket Sales 1980-2016

Data from the National Association of Theater Owners

As the handy little trend line indicates, ticket sales in North America are currently trending downward, but are roughly in-between the high point and the low point of the 35-year period. So, while theater chains are experimenting with adding restaurants and alcohol to compete with Netflix and your big screen TV, they aren't desperate enough to need an outsider to help spur overall sales. At least not yet.

But the real concern the exhibitors have about MoviePass becomes readily apparent when you read this report about the 2016 Box Office by the Motion Picture Association of America:

"Frequent moviegoers – individuals who go to the cinema once a month or more – continue to drive the movie industry, accounting for 48 percent of all tickets sold in the United States and Canada."

The moviegoer that MoviePass is best for is the frequent moviegoer. This is the concern of the exhibitors. It's not that MoviePass undercuts their ticket prices; it's that MoviePass appeals most to their best customers—the very ones keeping the industry alive. MoviePass is quick to point out that they pay the theater full price for each ticket, but the exhibitors are right to feel antsy. How do you think those customers might feel if MoviePass fails and they have to pay full price for tickets again?

In order to assuage these fears, MoviePass has to prove that it will be profitable all on its own. Someone, somewhere, is going to pay for those movie tickets, and it won't be the theaters or the studios. Our first hint at MoviePass's plan for profitability comes from Bloomberg:

Ted Farnsworth, chief executive officer at Helios and Matheson [the majority stakeholder in MoviePass], said the goal is to amass a large base of customers and collect data on viewing behaviors. That information could then be used to eventually target advertisements or other marketing materials to subscribers. “It’s no different than Facebook or Google,” Farnsworth said. “The more we understand our fans, the more we can target them.”

So, you might subscribe to MoviePass, but ultimately, you will be the product. While they won't directly subsidize the ticket prices, studios, theaters, and advertisers would love to get even more information about the viewing habits of their customers. MoviePass would be another tool in their arsenal.

Secondly, there's the whole gym membership metaphor. Get tons of people to sign up, and hope that the vast majority don't use it. There is obviously some demand for the service. As Deadline noted, "In the two day period after the movie ticket subscription service announced a drop in price to $9.95 a month, it raised its sub level to more than 150,000..." But this is no guarantee of success. America has a built-in annual 'buy a gym membership' holiday, theaters don't.

But, MoviePass is also banking that infrequent moviegoers will outnumber the frequent. In this CNET interview, Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, stated that their "primary subscriber is someone who, today, is only going to between 3 and 6 movies a year, and now they'll go to between 6 and 9 instead."

If Lowe turns out to be correct, and the average subscriber only goes—at most—nine times a year, MoviePass does have a chance of turning a profit. In 2016, the average price of a movie ticket in the United States was $8.65. If the subscriber sees nine movies, the total cost of tickets would be $77.85. The annual subscription will cost $119.88, leaving $42.03 for MoviePass. But, this is all based on their hopes—we won't know for sure until we watch this experiment play out. If Lowe ends up being wrong, and the average subscriber is more akin to the frequent moviegoer and attends closer to 12 films a year, MoviePass's profits could vanish in a poof of ticket stubs.

But let's say, for argument's sake, that MoviePass ends up being right. The average person ends up seeing nine films, and it's up from their normal three-to-six. It's that audience that MoviePass hopes can deliver the biggest impact. From the CNET interview:

"We think there's a group of customers out there who've stopped going to the movies as often as they used to -- particularly between the ages of 18 and 39 -- who'd love to go to the movies more often, but have two problems. One is the risk of seeing a bad movie, and the second is they already belong to Netflix and Amazon and they can just wait and see it later. Usually people talk themselves out of going. 'I've gotta get there. It might not be a great movie. It's going to be 10 bucks. If I'm already paying for Netflix, I'll just wait until it comes out.'
We think that's hurting the movie business. By giving people the insurance... if you see a bad movie you can just walk out and trash it to your friends the next day, and not feel bad that you wasted 10 bucks. That way, it can actually be fun to see a bad movie. Or see a movie you didn't think you'd like and fall in love with it. We think we can expand people's interest in film, make it more enjoyable and result in more people going to the movies more often."

This is where MoviePass has an opportunity. As much as the chart above shows that tickets sales aren't in some catastrophic collapse, theaters do have an attendance problem. It isn't getting people to come to the theater, it's what people are choosing to see, and when they choose to see it.

2015 North American Box Office Gross

Data from BoxOfficeMojo

In 2015, the North American box office grossed $11 Billion. The top ten films of the year made up almost 40% of that total. If you include the next ten films, all told the top twenty films would make up 51.72% of the box office gross for the year. According to BoxOfficeMojo, there were 705 films released in 2015.

But, for the theaters, the news gets even worse. In 2015, the top ten films, on average, grossed roughly 33% of their total domestic take during their opening weekend. Compare that with 2000, where the opening weekend for top ten films averaged only 21.4% of their total gross. Film rent—what the theaters give the studios for "rental of the film print"—is the most expensive for the opening weekend of a film. So not only is the box office more and more dependent on blockbuster releases, as the audience has become more inclined to catch a big release opening weekend, the theaters have started to earn less revenue overall.

To get theaters on board, not only does MoviePass need to help increase attendance, they need to increase attendance for the other 675 films and they need to help drive attendance later in a film's box office run. If the average subscriber is primarily using their pass to see the same top-20 films on or near opening weekend, the biggest problem the theaters face won't be addressed and the theaters have no incentive to play ball. And If I were an exhibitor, I'd want to see a dramatic change. A 1-2% increase in traffic isn't going to be enough. But all that will be for naught if MoviePass isn't profitable. 

This doesn't mean that the exhibition industry isn't prime for some disruption, just that MoviePass needs to prove that it's the way to do it.

The Force Awakens Scorecard, Pt. 2

So we looked at my predictions for the plot yesterday, now let’s see how I did with the numbers:

  1. "I expect The Force Awakens to have an opening weekend gross of $215 Million. The crazy thing? This estimate is conservative." Conservative was an understatement. I was short by almost $33 Million.
  2. "I also expect The Force Awakens to beat Avatar’s domestic box office gross of $760.5 Million, and to come in closer to $800 Million." On Wednesday, The Force Awakens passed Avatar’s domestic gross, coming in at $764 Million. What once was decried as a fanboy fantasy, $1 Billion domestic now falls into the realm of plausibility. This will all depend on how long its legs are.
  3. "I don’t think that The Force Awakens will beat Avatar’s worldwide gross numbers ($2.8 Billion), but I do think it has a good shot of taking number two away from Titanic ($2.2 Billion)." I think this one will end up holding true. While The Force Awakens is redefining ‘box office juggernaut’ in North America and Europe, it isn’t finding the same success everywhere worldwide. As of right now, the worldwide gross is split 49/51 domestic/foreign. Other films that grossed over $1 Billion worldwide would see something closer to a 40/60 domestic/foreign split. The real question is China. It opens in Chinese theaters this weekend, but it looks like The Force Awakens will receive the same tepid response the Original Trilogy received when Disney released the films in China last year. If The Force Awakens flops hard in China, Titanic has a good chance of retaining the #2 position. If it only does okay in China, I think we’ll be reading headlines about The Force Awakens becoming #2 worldwide by the end of February.

As of right now, I’m 0 for 2, and have a shot of getting 1 out 3 right. The Force Awakens has been fascinating to track, and we probably aren’t even at the halfway point of its run.

The Force Awakens Scorecard, Pt. 1

It’s been a few weeks since The Force Awakens came out, and yesterday I was finally able to go see it for a second time, so I it’s time to check the scorecard!

Again: There Be Spoilers Below!

  1. The Empire and New Republic Co-Exist. The film is never really clear on what the political situation is like in the universe, and I find it to be the film's biggest flaw. I think I was right about the Resistance, but wrong about the First Order and the Empire. I’ll give myself a half point.
  2. Both sides are trying to find Luke. Nailed it. +1
  3. Kylo Ren is the apprentice. Nailed it. +1
  4. Rey is a Skywalker. Jury is still out on this one, and it'll be Episode 8 or Episode 9 before we know for sure.
  5. Starkiller Base is a planet transformed into a doomsday weapon, or is a doomsday weapon that was terraformed. Nailed it. +1
  6. Han dies. NAILED IT! +1

For a grand total of 4.5 out of 6. And the one I missed is a plot point that won’t be resolved until later films. Not bad.

As for the film itself, it’s rare that I am able to sit back and watch a film without turning on ‘film student mode’ and critiquing everyhting. It's even rarer if I can do that on a second viewing. Both times I've seen The Force Awakens, I just sat back and enjoyed the film. I think John Siracusa summed it up best on The Incomparable Podcast: “The Force Awakens is a good movie with many small problems, none of which overwhelm it's essential goodness.”

Predicting The Force Awakens

I’ve been up since 2am. I’m writing this at 4pm. This post will go live at 7pm. My screening is at 9pm.

This is what I’m expecting from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Warning: There Be Spoilers Below!! Maybe

First, business.

I expect The Force Awakens to have an opening weekend gross of $215 Million. The crazy thing? This estimate is conservative. I also expect The Force Awakens to beat Avatar’s domestic box office gross of $760.5 Million, and to come in closer to $800 Million. While it’s been fun watching The Force Awakens become a box office juggernaut in the United States, as international gross becomes more important to Hollywood, how it performs worldwide is going to be key (As of writing, Disney has revealed that The Force Awakens brought in $14.1 Million in it’s first day in foreign markets). I don’t think that The Force Awakens will beat Avatar’s worldwide gross numbers ($2.8 Billion), but I do think it has a good shot of taking number two away from Titanic ($2.2 Billion).

Finally, pleasure. Or: What I expect to happen in the film.

The Empire and New Republic Co-Exist. The truce is an uneasy one, but it’s there. I think “The Resistance” is made up of former members of the Rebel Alliance who never stopped fighting the Empire. The “First Order” is an Imperial faction attempting to take over the Empire. Their goal is to reestablish the Empire as the sole galactic power. And for the sake of drama, they've all but succeeded by the start of the film.

Both sides are trying to find Luke. I think it's the secret mission that Leia sends Poe Dameron on. Also, the line Kylo Ren utters while staring at Darth Vader's helmet —"I will finish what you've started"— is a reference to Vader hunting down the few Jedi who survived Order 66. Who's the sole living Jedi? Luke.

Kylo Ren is the apprentice. Always two there are… We haven’t seen Andy Serkis’s character yet, but we did hear him speak in the voiceover for the first trailer. I think he’s the master.

Rey is a Skywalker. Kinda a gimme.

Starkiller Base is a planet transformed into a doomsday weapon, or is a doomsday weapon that was terraformed. I base this purely on the fact that everyone has been calling the spherical object in the posters a “new Death Star”, but I think the blue around the edges looks suspiciously like an atmosphere. “That’s no moon. It’s a Space Station Moon!”

Han dies. If The Force Awakens stays true to form, a mentor figure will die during the film. If the trailers have given us any hints, it’s that Harrison Ford plays that figure in this film. I don’t think they would’ve held off revealing Luke in any of the trailers or advertising, if they were going to kill him off in this film. Plus, it was probably easier to convince Harrison Ford to return if he would only have to come back for one.

Other than these few things, I really have no idea what to expect. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I can’t wait for 9pm.

Prom

While everyone else was watching the Oscars last Sunday, I continued my tradition of doing something else. This year it was inviting friends over to binge watch Firefly and play Lord of the Rings Online. But since we’re Millennials, we still followed all the action on social media. Hell, even I tweeted about the Oscars that night.

But with all the general commentary that always comes after awards night —"American Sniper was shafted!" "I can't believe that the only award that Boyhood won was Best Supporting Actress!", et cetera, et cetera...—, I just want everyone to keep this in mind: It's only the Oscars.

Yes, I had a favorite: Birdman. And I was happy it won. I care enough to keep informed and to try and see as many of the nominated films as I can —working part-time at movie theater does have it's perks— but I stopped investing too much emotional weight into the awards. Because of Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica, a show I loved. A show that many, not just sci-fi fans, consider one of the best ever made —a show that won a Peabody and received recognition from the United Nations for how it depicted terrorism and human conflict— only won Emmys for Sound Editing and Visual Effects. It deserved more.

And here is the lesson I learned: The Oscars—and many of the awards—are like Prom. The Oscars are part recognition of your peers, and part popularity contest. It's the recognition by your peers in the industry that make the awards special. If I ever work on a film that's nominated, am remotely connected to a film that is nominated, or know someone who is nominated, I have no doubt that I will get caught up in the Oscar hoopla. And anyone who says they haven’t imagined what it would be like to win is probably a liar. But an Oscar win is just like being royalty at Prom, and Best Picture is like the Prom Queen. In five years, no one gives a shit if you were Prom Queen.

Remember only one Hitchcock film ever won best picture: Rebecca. Most people haven't fucking seen Rebecca, but they've all heard of Alfred Hitchcock.