Oscar Winner James Cromwell on Academy Awards: “It isn’t a contest — we’re all in this together”

The sign of a good actor: when he can bite his lip and hide his true feelings about the Academy Awards while accepting the Best Picture award at the Oscars. Although The Artist’s James Cromwell blasted the awards ceremony just days before, he put on a convincing smile as he and other cast members accepted the top honors at the 84th running of Hollywood’s biggest night last Sunday.

It’s a lot of hoopla, which is not really what we do as actors and as artists. We like to do the work, and the work stands for itself, and then the industry takes over,” Cromwell opined to the Hollywood Reporter at the publication’s Nominees’ Night party last Thursday evening. “It isn’t a contest — we’re all in this together.”

Cromwell portrayed a movie star’s valet in The Artist, a black-and-white silent movie that’s the first silent film to win Best Picture since 1927’s Wings and the first colorless production to steal the show since Schindler’s List in 1994. Fittingly, one of the themes of the film is silent movie star George Valentin’s fear that the arrival of talking pictures will put him out of work.

Citing that the vast majority of Academy voters are “old white men,” Cromwell suggested a new way of determining who takes home the Best Picture award. “(The nominees) get together to vote for what they think is the best picture. They can’t vote for themselves and they keep going until hopefully they get unanimity. Then when the category is announced, all five of them go up, one of them steps forward and says, ‘We the nominees think that the best film of the year should be…’” he explained, clearly having given this topic considerable thought.

“That way,” continued Cromwell, “everybody wins, nobody loses, and Americans can learn that this is not about winning and losing, this is about full self-expression and daring to be an artist.”

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