Fall in love with filmmaking flops

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It’s Oscar night, and I’m all set to watch Hollywood’s annual tribute to all things film-related. By being set, I mean that my husband, who graciously tolerates my fascination with the Academy Awards, will splice together delicious Oscar-worthy snacks to accompany the star-filled extravaganza. It doesn’t mean that I’ve seen all of the best-picture nominees; in fact, I’ve only seen one this year. I feel a little silly saying this, but for me, watching the Oscars is all about the red carpet glamour. No one, and I mean no one, should enjoy sitting in front of a three-hour-long lovefest to actors, replete with bad jokes, cheesy musical numbers, and embarrassing acceptance speeches. But I do.

Because my Oscar obsession is skewed toward the evening’s pageantry rather than the nominated films, I thought it was time to reroute my focus. So, I checked out “My Year of Flops.” This might seem like an odd choice considering the Oscars are all about cinema’s best, but I wanted something that would help me to understand why some films are winners and others are major losers. I also wanted to know why some movies are so bad that they end up in motion picture purgatory while other disasters develop cult followings. Nathan Rabin tackles these questions and more, doing a good job of dispelling some of the mystery surrounding such failures as “The Cable Guy,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and “Paint Your Wagon.”

I’m not sure this book changed my mind about why I look forward to the Oscars every year, but it did give me a new appreciation for the art of filmmaking. There is no easy formula for creating an award-winning movie, and the line between success and failure can be as thin as photographic film. One thing I know for sure. I’ll enjoy tonight’s cinematic pomp and circumstance almost as much as my Oscar snacks.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org. She blogs at youbetterreadnow.blogspot.com.