Few things make moviegoers more angry than the Academy Awards. Those who frequent the cinema are left baffled from choices made by Academy voters and snubs that seem to lack common sense. Still, the little golden statue represents excellence in the performing arts that really no other award can compete with. And to the dismay of the masses, the Academy does not simply award films that are popular; they award the best films in their craft. Nevertheless, this year in particular has left myself and many others left wondering: are the Academy awards slipping in their significance, and why shouldn’t they have the general moviegoer in mind?
The first problem: predictability
Before nominees are even announced, people are making bets on who the nominees will be, and once the nominees are announced, people make bets on the winners. These days, it wouldn’t be necessary to see the films to get a 50/50 on your ballot sheet. Nominees and the eventual victors are almost inherently predictable. Every so often a surprise will pop up, but the majority of Oscar-nominated films could in-fact be picked out by any individual scrolling through Wikipedia synopses a year ahead of time. Period pieces and works that feature “relevant” themes reign supreme year after year.
Audiences also know tuning in the kind of content they’re getting during the 3.5 Hour bloated runtime – a bunch of overdressed, politically-correct elitists handing out awards that mean nothing outside of Hollywood for films that nobody saw outside of Hollywood, plenty of “thank you” speeches directed towards people audiences couldn’t care less about, some sneering at conservatives and Trump supporters, a few songs that sound better on Spotify, and a monologue and some jabs…oh wait…
The second problem: the politics
I think just about everyone saw this coming eventually. By “this” I am referring to a hostless awards show. The circumstances behind it are hardly shocking. Yet again, a person’s reputation was given a beating by a select few on the internet, and Hollywood gave in to those trolls without a second thought. They will seriously regret it Sunday night when the Oscars have the lowest viewership rating in history. If the Academy thinks people will still want to tune in without getting the chance to see one of their favorite comedians bring some humor to the pomp and ceremony of the evening, they are sorely mistaken.
The third problem: the films themselves and the reasoning behind nominations
How many people saw “The Favourite?” How many saw “Geeen Book?” How many saw “Vice?” “Blackkklanaman?” “Cold War?” The answer is not many, and worse yet not many average people paricularly cared for them. Most of America isn’t going to get excited about any of those films being up for awards. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was deemed by many to not be worthy of a nod, yet why shouldn’t the most popular biopic of the year be nominated? “A Star is Born” has been remade four times – shouldn’t originality matter? “Roma,” another film hardly seen among general audiences would be ground-breaking if it won, but is the off-chance of a Netflix film winning best picture enough to draw in viewers? It’s refreshing to see a popular movie nominated, but make no mistake – “Black Panther” wasn’t nominated because it was a quality superhero movie that performed well at the box office. It was only nominated because it was seen as historic. Having a predominantly black cast is the least of my concerns, or anyone else’s – seriously, have you gotten around to seeing “Moonlight?”
A lot of films didn’t get recognized at all or in ways that they should have. Despite being deemed one of the greatest action movies of all time and perhaps the most enjoyable cinematic experience of the year, “Mission Impossible – Fallout” didn’t receive a single nomination. “First Man” was snubbed in the directing and acting categories. Bradley Cooper, though he directed a movie that has been directed four times before, should have gotten a nod for his efforts. “Annihilation” was left out completely, despite being one of the most visually impressive and debated films of the year. Ethan Hawke was a tour de force in “First Reformed,” as was Toni Collete in “Hereditary.” But hey, I guess it’s Glenn Close’s turn, right? She was so great in…uhhh…you know….she was just great.
One of the nominations that outright infuriated me was “Green Book” for best original screenplay. So what if its subject matter is considered “relevant?” The entire film is based on a relationship that reportedly never existed. How can the Academy award a film for its writing when it is based on a false premise?
The fourth problem: there are more problems
I won’t get into everything, but suffice to say that the Academy has some thinking to do moving forward. They tried making some changes this year, but people didn’t respond well to them. Not broadcasting the “Best Cinemarography” award probably wouldn’t be a great move. The “Best Popular Picture” idea was also a terrible one, showing just how much of a disconnect there is between the Academy and viewers about what constitutes the “best” films. There was also the issue of what constitutes the “most popular” selections, which was never disseminated. Then there was a breaking of tradition – previous winners would not be presenting awards, which was a baffling change that saw immediate uproar. Why shouldn’t the previous honorees be recognized?
All of these changes illustrate how difficult it will be for the Academy to make changes that honor the attendees, satisfy the network executives, and draw in new audiences. It may be impossible to adapt an awards show to please all the parties in mind.
My pick for best picture: “Roma”
Forget about it being a shocking and historical win that will change the industry forever. It will win because of the current political climate. What could be more relevant than a story about the hardships of a live-in housekeeper in middle-class Mexico? Being staunchly pro-immigration and anti-wall, Hollywood won’t miss this opportunity to promote an emotional film that could convince Americans to have further sympathy for the people venturing up from Mexico and Central America. It better at least beat “Green Book” for “Best Original Screenplay.”