Ethan Hawke hates Oscar season: ‘It’s so asinine, I think it’s really destructive’

Did you know Ethan Hawke has been nominated for an Oscar twice? True story. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2002 for Training Day, and then he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Sunset in 2005. So… Ethan has been around award shows and stuff, and he’s been a working actor for decades (he’s 42 years old right now). Does the fact that he’s been a working actor and an Oscar-nominated actor and writer mean that he gets to criticize the awards shows and the industry? Because he is.

Joaquin Phoenix called the Oscars bulls – - t this year. But “The Master” star isn’t the only actor taking exception to the annual awards.

Ethan Hawke says in the new issue of Gotham magazine, “People want to turn everything in this country into a competition . . . [so] it’s clear who the winner is and who the loser is.”

The two-time nominee adds: “It’s why they like to announce the grosses of movies, because it’s a way of saying, ‘This one is No. 1.’ It’s so asinine . . . if you look at how many forgettable, stupid movies have won Oscars and how many mediocre performers have Oscars above their fireplace. Making a priority of chasing these fake carrots and money and dubious accolades, I think it’s really destructive.”

[From Page Six]

Maybe I’m an Ethan Hawke apologist (true story), but I actually think Ethan’s comments are more nuanced than Joaquin Phoenix’s expletive-filled rant last year, in which Phoenix said: “I think it’s bullsh-t… I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other . . . It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world.”

Ethan is making it less about the Oscar campaigns in general and more about the (American?) need to declare a winner and a loser, and how the award doesn’t necessarily mean you were “the best”. That being said, it sounds like Ethan has a case of the sore-loser-syndrome. Because you know what’s interesting if you nit-pick what Ethan says? That he’s a judgy bitch who judges when “mediocre actors” get awards, meaning he DOES adhere to some kind of system in which he ranks the quality of actors. Which defeats his point about winners and losers.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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99 Responses to “Ethan Hawke hates Oscar season: ‘It’s so asinine, I think it’s really destructive’”

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  1. MsAubra says:

    Probably because nobody including Oscar aint checkin’ for you, siddown!

  2. bns says:

    Sounds like he’s got a bruised ego.

  3. Kaye1 says:

    I think they both make good points. The Oscars are a stupid competition. Look what it’s done to Anne Hathaway. She went from being well-liked to being completely insufferable because she is so desperate for this validation. I stopped watching the Oscars about 15 years ago because I think those people get enough attention already.

    • Mary says:

      +1. I watch the red carpet and then catch the highlights from the show on YouTube. There are so many different awards given out now, that I have serious burn out by the time the Oscars roll around.

      • juls says:

        Exactly. Do you and your colleagues get dressed to the nines, get drunk, have a raging party, and pat yourselves on the back 5 times a year, in a celebration of your own awesomeness (and fat paychecks) ? Not in my office! Would be nice. It all seems so “yay look at us!” Narcissistic. Why so many award shows?

    • Samantha says:

      Agreed. I watch the arrivals (for the fashion) but not the ceremony itself.

    • Dawn says:

      Amen! The Academy often gets it wrong and it is way too long. Far too many times an actor/actress get nominated but don’t win with career building roles and then in their later years win for something that was just so-so. Paul Newman is a great example of that. So I don’t watch it any more.

    • Agnes says:

      I agree. I haven’t watched it in ages. The Academy doesn’t seem to reward excellence consistently, it often seems like a popularity contest. And I agree with his point on mediocrity. In a world where GOOP can win an Oscar, the recognition and the award don’t mean as much as they could.

    • Michele says:

      ” Look what it’s done to Anne Hathaway. She went from being well-liked to being completely insufferable because she is so desperate for this validation. ”

      You hit the nail on the head with that statement. I’ve always been a fan of Anne Hathaway, but not anymore. Her desperation for an Oscar has been so off putting. Every time she wins an award for Les Mis, I cringe listening to her acceptance speeches. That makes me sad.

  4. Maria says:

    you nailed it in your last paragraph.

    i dont have a problem with the oscars, for a regular person they are just as important as you make them. but i have a problem with harvey weinsteins oscar campaigns.

  5. JL says:

    Yeah I’ll buy it when he skips the event and DOESN’T run up there like a squealing teenage girl if he were to get one.

    His statements reek of “I didn’t want one anyway” sniffle.

  6. mel says:

    I agree with you, Kaiser. Joaquin’s problem is that he did not articulate it properly and threw some bad words in between so it does seem insulting but Ethan is an intellectual and he made his point come across without any insult.

    And, to be honest, he is right. He is talented and knows the industry. He’s been working for decades and has seen everything that takes place behind the scenes.

    BUT, using the word “mediocre” does imply that he also has standards that are hard to please, apparently.

    • sasa says:

      He should have just said “bad” for I suspect that is what he meant yet didn’t want to sound too judgmental. He used “mediocre” just for playing nice and not indicative of any particular quality scale. You don’t need elaborate criteria and insight to see when something truly sucks.

  7. GoodCapon says:

    Good God the HAIR. I thought he was Sugar Ray Leonard for a moment there.

  8. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    He looks both old and young at the same time.

  9. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Nope, not a sore loser at all. He’s a pretty solid actor and for the record, I 100% agree with him on his assessment of the Oscars, which is why I refuse to watch them.

  10. Micki says:

    What I miss ia a proposition what should be changed and how?
    People do have preferences, and more- they are vocal about them.
    Shall we ALL vote for best film?
    Or shall we leave it to a selected circle?

  11. CC says:

    Oh great, another idiot that thinks he’s too cool for school.

    Why do these idiots even go into acting, or red carpets or after-parties? Isn’t it all a sham as well? (I’m being sarcastic).

  12. marie says:

    he has such a punchable face. gah he’s annoyed me since Reality Bites, I don’t want to like him but I can’t seem to help myself.

  13. V4Real says:

    Its destructive says the man who has never been nominated but ill still hit it. HE looks hot

  14. Diva says:

    I think he’s right! The Oscars (like all awards shows) are just so these people can get their egos stroked. There are A LOT of mediocre people who have won awards and continue to make horrible movies. Halle Berry is the first person that comes to mind. If Oscars were for actual talent and not popularity contest then Angela Basset would have one already.

  15. Mingy says:

    i love him, and i cant wait for “before midnight”..very excited!

  16. lucy2 says:

    He does make some good points, but there is a hint of sore loser in there too.

  17. dref22 says:

    I haven’t watched a single award show in the last 5-6 years because yeah, he is right.

  18. manta says:

    I dont see why admitting there are mediocre actors, meaning he’s able to distinguish quality work from an awful one, defeats his point.

    There’s a difference between a kind of ranking( everything is not absolutely equivalent) and the permanent competition which leads to give medals, trophies and engage actors in a dog race, or a pony show.
    Also, wasn’t he still married to Uma Thurman when Kill Bill came out? Maybe he has witnessed first hand how destructive a campaign can be,therefore not only speaking of his case here. Even if Uma and the movie didn’t get a nomination after all, I clearly remember Weinstein didn’t spare his effort during the campaign.

  19. lady mary. says:

    well,i believe otherwise Oscars is that one time when real talent does get awarded or lets say recognized ,maybe not always but atleast most of the time,rather than all the popular actors with their hit blockbusters but no talent ,choosing a winner or a looser among a wide range of ppl in hollywood is ridiculous everone tries their level best to bring out a movie and turn into a success but some works really stand out ,and they truly desreve recognition and thats what oscar does ,i guess ethan is missin that point here

  20. kelly says:


    My friend and I saw him at Tiff wining&dining some industry people, CLEARLY playing the game. He needs to stop acting like he’s above it just because his last movie was….wait, what was it??


  21. T.Fanty says:

    Ethan Hawke generally annoys the hell out of me, but I feel the need to defend him here.

    He’s worked his a$$ off to become an actor with a solid and challenging body of work behind him (he’s a regular on the NY theatre scene, and even if I don’t like him, I do respect the work he’s done). He has taken a career path that has moved him out of the mainstream and therefore out of oscar contention – until he gets his Michael Caine oscar for sticking around long enough.

    And he’s right – a mediocre actor can shine in the right role, and that’s the flaw of the oscars. They’re not set up to reward ongoing artistic integrity, but to celebrate Hollywood. That’s a niche, but the tricky thing is that because the oscars are so big, they are generally assumed to be final arbiter of what is good in cinema, which it blatantly isn’t.

    ETA: how great was that Vampire movie he did a year or so ago?

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      I love everything you say here, except EH doesn’t annoy me for some reason.

      When Ethan Hawke first came on the scene he was just a pretty face and he’s taken some pretty gutsy roles in an attempt to move past that and diversify. I respect the hell out of him for that because I’m sure he could have easily gotten trapped in Rom Com hell.

      What you say about the Oscars-they only nominate a certain kind of movie and it drives me BATSHIT. I know I shouldn’t care because the Oscars are really just a fashion show with movie stars but it still bugs me.

      Quvenzhané Wallis was wonderfully natural in Beasts and I really enjoyed that movie but she’s what 8 years old? Why is she nominated for an Oscar when this is her FIRST role and she has never done anything else, has zero body of work? I’m not convinced that they reward for the individual performance because over the past 20 years I’ve seen SO many amazing performances by actors in non-Oscar-y (it’s a word) movies that the Academy didn’t recognize. I’m not trying to pick on Quvenzhané Wallis-she is LOVELY but she has plenty of time to show how talented she is. The Academy just decided that it would be good PR to have the oldest(!) and the youngest(!) nominees ever. Bleh. Sorry for the rant…I just really hate the Oscars.

    • Miss M says:

      @T.Fanty: you were spot on that one!
      Oh, but he doesn’t annoy me, :)

      • T.Fanty says:

        Heh – I see where this is going, Miss M.

        About ten years ago, I actually spent an hour sitting with him in a dog run – REALLY nice guy, but I wanted to take him home and bathe him (and not in a hot way). That undid a lot of my distaste for him, but I’ve never been 100% on board.

  22. Guesto says:

    I’m not keen on him but I’m 100% in agreement with the sentiments. I loathe the Oscars and the cringe-making spectacle so many actors make of themselves during the awards’ season with their suck-up interviews and their availability and their photo opportunities and their sycophantic praise of their colleagues’ performances and their smug loved-up ‘aren’t we wonderful and wonderfully humble’ self-satisfaction.

    Mediocrity rules. The only awards I watch with any pleasure anymore is the BAFTAs which, although bringing its own share of sycophantic luvvieness, still manages to come across as an org whose primary interest is rewarding and acknowledging excellence in film, rather than those behind the brashest campaigning.

    • Ginger says:

      +++ 1. I actually prefer the Independent Spirit awards the best. It’s in a tent on the beach and folks can where whatever they want. The attendees drink too much and have a fabulous time. The quality of the films nominated is IMO much better as well. All of the other award shows are exactly as you said…sycophantic, smug and suck up! The SAG awards are the worst of the lot!

  23. littlestar says:

    I agree with him. The Oscars are a joke. Best example of this is Anne Hathaway’s blatant Oscar campaign. I thought an award was supposed to be won on merit, not how in your face begging and pleading a nominee can be. And Ethan Hawke is definitely right on one point – look how many terrible actors have won Oscars. Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta Jones. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (although I really do like and admire her because she seems like a genuine person in LalaLand) are the best examples. They act the same in every single movie! They have no range! Yet because they are adored by the industry and because they campaign, they won the Oscar.

  24. elceibeno08 says:

    Although the the words he chose are too harsh, he is not entirely off. The Oscars at times becomes a ritualistic night of phoniness.

  25. Lexie says:

    i think he makes a good point. the endless campaigning and overexposure can definitely change how an actor is perceived, and since almost none of the campaigns focus on the actual acting, but rather on the actor – well actress really, they campaign more i guess – as a person, they do come across as silly. i don’t know. maybe the oscars would have more meaning or sense if the awards were given based on the quality of the performance / script etc. instead it’s a huge popularity contest where acting is rarely mentioned. it would be nice to learn a little about the actors’ craft and how they prepare for roles etc. than just reading about their personal lives.

  26. eileen says:

    Why is Sugar Ray talking about the Oscars? Shaw.

  27. Mira says:

    Just came here to say I love Ethan. I’m looking forward to the release of Before Midnight. Ethan annoys a lot of people, but I totally heart him. I love his smile for some reason.

  28. Claudia says:

    He’s right. The Oscars are a complete and utter joke. Has anyone read that article floating on thehollywoodreporter where one of the Oscar voters (anonymous, but rumored to be William Friedkin) shows his choices and his explanations for them? It shows that the Oscars are a popularity contest.

    Example: he’s not voting for Lawrence because he didn’t like her opening monologue on SNL, he’s not voting for Tommy Lee Jones because he doesn’t like TLJ, he’s voting for Emmanuelle Riva because she’s old and might die soon, he’s not voting for Haneke because he thinks Haneke hates people, he’s voting for Spielberg because he likes the guy even though he thought this was a lesser effort, he voted in the animated short category even though he didn’t watch ANY of the shorts, etc.

    That’s your average Academy Award voter. It’s a freaking joke.

  29. erika says:

    sorry, i have to agree with him. i know he’s judging too, but that’s his personal opinion…he’s not judging, picking winners and handing them some object that somehow, magically turn an actor into a hero/heroinne…

    of course it’s all judgmental, would you rather watch adam sanberg’s Jack n Jill or Les Miserables? maybe Jack n’ Jill!!!

    but i am sooooooo exhausted of these award shoes there are so many that have popped up like a bad STD, The Smug Awards, The Hottest Bodies Award Show, the Actors You Love but Hated Their Movie Awards!

    it’s just a formal back patting — actors/etc getting together to pat each other (stab) in the back…

  30. irishserra says:

    The whole idea of working to attain celebrity status is narcissistic, let alone participating in the award ceremonies. I agree with Hawk’s hypocritical comments, but then I’m not an actress. I’ve found more enjoyment in small-time, often-unheard-of indie films in which I have no expectations than anything I might have watched in the theaters over the past five years or so.

  31. Ginger says:

    UGH! It’s so hard to look at Ethan because he looks EXACTLY like my ex-fiance. BUT my ex-fiance was hot…SMH. He should keep this look a little longer, kinda edgy and cool. Anyway, I agree with Kaiser in that he seems to be a bit condescending but he comes across like that at other times as well no matter the subject. He is very smart and talented and experienced, so I think part of his point is valid…the Oscar’s are more of a popularity contest and very political as well. I still have not gotten over the fact that GOOP (for that horrid Shakespeare in Love film) won the Oscar over Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. I loved Cate in Elizabeth and she instantly catapulted to my favorite actress status and has stayed there ever since. When she finally won for The Aviator I felt a bit vindicated. But truly, ever since then I agree with Ethan that the Academy Awards is a crock.

  32. lex lane says:

    i use to think ethan hawke was soo cute, that hair is just awful

  33. JBG says:

    From the forehead up he looks like Guy Fieri. Not a good look for anyone, let alone a middle-aged man.

  34. lisa2 says:

    I agree that unfortunately time and time again they Academy gets it wrong and picks the most unmemorable films. I think it time to change the whole system. There are hundreds of films that never get recognized. There are hundreds of performances that will never be recognized. There are many actors that have wonderful filmography that don’t have an Oscar. Yet they continue to make amazing films. There are actors and such that have won and you never hear from them again. Were they a ONE hit Wonder. I think the Season stretches too long. And instead of ONE winner pick the top 5 movies and performances and honor them all. That way 5 films at least are given the Oscar. And 5 performances. I hate that a group of people are in many cases randomly picking the winners.

    Did you all see that article about ONE Oscar voter and how he picked the winners. Just shows how this system is WRONG and just unfair. I’m sure most people can’t recall the last 5 films that won BP or Actors. UNMEMORABLE

  35. FassDaActor says:

    Joaquin and Hawke are CORRECT! Screw the Oscars.

  36. FassDaActor says:

    Joaquin and Hawke are CORRECT! Screw the Oscars.

  37. Miss M says:

    I do hope Riva wins. I love DDL, but it would be good if Phoenix won. My new fave now since Eve is all about Cumby, I think I can be all about Phoenix, right?! :)

  38. debisis says:

    Ethan, you’re still a sexy darling. I agree with you in a way, but then again competition in the movie industry is super necessary. Unfortunately, most of these movies are not of a quality grade that this country deserves. I hope to see you in more movies to come, “block buster” or not.

  39. debisis says:

    I’d like to see EH and JP in Broke Back Mountain Two, but that’s just me.

  40. Kim says:

    The Oscars used to be great & celebrated only the finest acting but now its basically who has the most pull/power in Hollywood. If you are in a Weinstein produced movie youll get an Oscar. Silver Linings Playbook gives good performances BUT they are not Oscar winning performances by any means BUT guess who produced it?

  41. Jayna says:

    I disagree. I think it’s good for the industy and movies, etc., being recongized by your peers — well, I did until I found out years ago there are huge campaigns to win the Oscar. Big ads are put out from the studios for the movies, on and on. I became disgusted by the idea of a campaign to get nominated, campaign to win. What happened to nominating the best and then the voting takes place. Campaigning makes it look like you bought it to me.

  42. Jayna says:

    He has a point about one thing, though. Some average actors have won for a single great performance, but can’t even follow up decent acting or don’t have a body of work that is impressive.

    Jennifer won a supporting actress award as Effie White in Dreamgirls and was really fantastic. Then you see her in a small role in the SATC movie and she was so wooden. She couldn’t even deliver a single line that sounded authentic or natural and I’m thinking, damn, this girl won an Oscar and she needs Acting 101.

  43. Jayna says:

    Ethan Hawke and Liam Neeson on Watch What Happens Live together last year was the night I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

  44. Thiajoka says:

    I understand winning an election if you’ve campaigned–it’s about presenting your image, your potential policies, pointing out your opponents weaknesses, and getting yourself and your message across to potential voters–not that the election process is flawless, it’s just that, asinine as it becomes sometimes, it’s the game.

    How you can campaign to win an award leaves me baffled. Awards are given, supposedly, based on skill and product, not popularity.

    If we can’t have campaign finance reform in political elections, then I think it’s time we at least demand it for award shows.

  45. Mazunte says:

    I have just read a clarification he gave about his Oscar comments. He might have felt some pressure, or maybe he just realized he ought to be more diplomatic with his peers. I still agree with him except for the last sentence.

    “I think the Oscars do a very good job in representing much of the great work in a given year. Inevitably though, many great films and performances are not recognized and can be overlooked due to the mass marketing and PR machines that march through the awards season. I don’t mean to take anything away from the genuine and deserved excitement that every nominee should feel.”

  46. Ginveve says:

    He is right. The Oscars are a joke. So many crap movies like Slumdog Millionare have won and where are the actors of that movie today? Neither of them are big yet they were hyped up. I can’t remember their names and they were deemed as ‘attractive’ too lol.
    So many terrible and medicores performences have won and it turns all the likeable stars into the most hated.
    I am talking about people like Natalie Portman, Anne Hatheway.
    See how they went from being likeable to just annoying and fake?
    Quhivenah Wallis was not that great in Beasts but her nom was both a young and racial thing. How many child stars have given great performences but never recived a recognization like that? Some of them have made a career for themselves but this was Wallis first real role. We don’t know how she will do.
    I have a feeling that little girl with get only supporting parts for a few years and dissapear altogather.
    Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Coopers nominations were odd. Niether of them gave great performences too. I hope someone like Naomi Watts wins, who has grown as an actress and given plenty of great roles in the past. DDL deserves to win too even if this would be his 3rd win.

  47. lil sister2 says:

    I agree. I think Jamie Foxx did an outstanding job w/ Ray but I really felt Joaquin was robbed that year for Walk The Line. Who did EH lose to that year? Training Day is one of my all time favorites. I’ll have to google that.

  48. Eden says:

    I am not an EH fan, never have been, but I agree with him completely on this. The whole thing is just a joke now. Who can suck up and fawn the hardest not who actually has talent and can act.

    There are many people who I think have been robbed over the years and have lost to mediocre performances (Goop over Cate, really?) and movies that did not deserve to win (Shakespeare in Love, I’m looking at you). The 71st Oscars were the last year I watched I was so pi**ed off as you can guess.

    Hawke will probably get bashed in the industry for this, but I think he should know that most of the public agrees. The Oscar’s is nothing but a glorified strokefest for Hollywood. The idea of campaigning for an award is just sleazy and really is demeaning for the actors who take it over the top, this year Anne and Ben. Bodies of work aside, I will never be able to watch them in anything again without a jaded attitude.

  49. Angie says:

    “Because you know what’s interesting if you nit-pick what Ethan says? That he’s a judgy bitch who judges when “mediocre actors” get awards”

    All the excellent observation awards go to you. ha!

    Anyway, he was so gorgeous when he was young, he had such an edge. Sadly, not all beautiful men age well :( He isn’t hideous, but I dont find myself attracted. In the nineties? Oooooh boy, you bet I was.

    That hair isn’t helping any, either.

  50. fritanga says:

    You’re asinine, Hawke, and I’ll bet Uma would say you were pretty destructive.

    Wish he’d put the bad Mark McGrath drag away now, but it’s obvious he’s totally in love with the fried platinum “frost ‘n tip” spikes and thinks it obviates his many wrinkles to make him “hott.” I haven’t seen so many photographs of him in years (thank god). Douche.

  51. ??? says:

    I don’t mind Ethan. He’s probably a bit douche-y, but he’s right on the money about the Oscars.

    The ceremony itself, the campaigning, some of the nominees — the Academy Awards has been reduced to nothing more than an overhyped, narcissistic, back-patting, popularity contest.

    I stopped watching several years ago.

  52. Chelsea's handler says:

    “That he’s a judgy bitch when “medocre actors” get awards meaning he does adhere to some kind of system in which he ranks the quality of actors. Which defeats his point about winners and losers”

    Art is subjective. I believe one can have preferences without liking the Academy Awards. A lot of film geeks would tell you that that the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film is usually better than the winner of the Best Picture award.

  53. K.G. says:

    I wanted to jump in with a quick Ethan Hawke story. A number of years ago I went to a reading and book signing he did for one of his novels. I wasn’t a particular fan, just enjoyed his film work and thought it would be interesting. The reading was done like a little performance, with a local actress reading the woman’s dialogue and Ethan reading the man’s. It’s the first time I understood what star power really is. His charisma was like a force. Without trying to pull focus–he was a generous co-reader with the actress–he just dominated and lit up the room. It was mesmerizing. Then later, when he signed my book, we talked briefly and his eyes were this green and gold combination that was so striking. After seeing him perform and seeing him up close, it was obvious any casting director would be like, This is it! An exceptional quality. Presence.

    • Tessa says:

      I love your story. I have always found that there is a truly deep emotional presence and vulnerability in Ethan’s eyes that he transmits to his characters. He’s been one of my favorites since that unforgettable “O Captain! My Captain!” in Dead Poets Society.

  54. Jill says:

    It is stupid. Proof….Jennifer Lawrence should have never won that Oscar when there were far superior roles and acting in that category. Plenty of snubs too. She got that award because Oscar voters jumped on the bandwagon after she won the other awards.