And the Oscar goes to… A Flawed Award Ceremony.

           The Academy Awards are largely known for being one of the most (if not the most) prestigious award ceremonies in Film Making and business. This year, however, a lack of diversity in its nominees for the second year in a row has caused a backlash of negative press for the event. It’s a subject so talked about even Presidential candidates are being asked their opinion on it. Like last year, Inarritu, who is a Mexican director is being nominated for his directing in The Revenant after winning best director last year for Birdman. But one Hispanic director is not diversity enough this year, due to the fact a lot more award worthy films and performances came out of African Americans. Also very often, female directors and screenwriters are overlooked. With a few exceptions that make films so good they’re hard not to nominate, (I’m looking at you, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ms. Coppola) women have often been overlooked for technical categories.
           While last year could be justified or excused, even I felt the lack of diversity in the Oscars this time around. As I fully expected Creed’s young director Ryan Coogler to at least get a nomination for directing due to his spectacular job he put in not just this year, but also in last years Fruitvale Station, which was only his first film. However, he didn’t make the cut. Due to the changes in voting and membership that the Academy made, hopefully we’ll see some change in the future, but that’s not what this post is about… It’s about the Academy’s many technical flaws when picking films.
            An Oscar is something that every aspiring film maker wants, but despite contrary belief, it’s not a big deal if you don’t get it. There’s been an entire array of incredible films that never were nominated for any Oscars. I made a list on IMDB, on the films that were great, but not acknowledged by the academy at all last year. In this post we’ll talk about rules and flawed logic that the academy has had, and how it’s led to controversial choices throughout the years.

Oscar Flaw #1-We gave you an Oscar last year, or you have two? Sorry, no Oscar.

             One of my least favorite things in Academy Award logic is that if you got an Oscar last year, regardless of how good your film or performance is, you’re most likely not getting an Oscar this year. This leads to some film makers making a great film and winning. The year afterwards however, they make an even better film, or even their masterpiece, and lose. Remember when I said that I would bring up Russel Crowe’s acting nomination back up in my last post? Well here it is. A huge example of this is actually Russel Crowe who won for his good performance in Gladiator over another strong contender, Denzel Washington. However, there was an actor who was nominated and no one expected to win. Who you ask?
              Tom Hanks, who gave a better performance then both Crowe and Washington that year was nominated but no one expected him to win. This is due to the fact that he had won 2 Oscars during the 1990’s already for Forrest Gump and Philadelphia.
               But i’m not finished. The year after, Crowe was in A Beautiful Mind. where he played an award winning Mathematician. He gave his best acting performance, some argue that perhaps to this day. However, he didn’t win. Why? because he had gotten an Oscar the year before, despite it being a weaker performance in hindsight.

Oscar Flaw #2- We didn’t give you an Oscar last year? No worries, you’re getting an Oscar this year.

                 But of course, it doesn’t stop at who didn’t get the Oscar. So who did get it that year? Denzel Washington got the Oscar for his bad-ass performance in Training Day. But was his performance better then Russel Crowes? No it wasn’t. However, he was the second favorite for the year before, as his performance in The Hurricane was incredible. So, they gave him the Oscar for best actor. He didn’t just win over Russel Crowes performance. He also won over Sean Penn in I Am Sam, and Will Smith in Ali. To be fair, it was a really hard year to decide on, but the Academy is notoriously known for choosing based on a technicality. Speaking of technicalities…

Oscar Flaw #3- Oh my gawd!! what an incredible film! But….Sorry, Technicalities.

                   Once in a while, a film comes out that does something you were not expecting. This factor (whatever it is) is what makes the film unique. An example of this is Richard Linklaters Boyhood, which is a film about growing up and finding yourself. It’s a very realistic and well done coming-of-age film, but what made it an Oscar contender? It used the same cast throughout the film. The main character in the film who is a boy at the beginning of the film, is the same actor you see grown up in the last scenes of the film. It’s the first film that shows you a boy literally grow up to be a man.
                   However, despite this some films don’t get into the Oscars due to the fact that they have strict rules about what qualifies, technically speaking. A certain format is necessary, as is a certain type of equipment, and a certain type of aspect ratio, and so on. This works for all of the technical categories and all of them have their own rules. Star Wars: The Force Awakens for example, didn’t get nominated for best Costume and Make-up design because they added visual effects to certain costumes. This eliminated their entry into the category.
                    An example of good films that were not considered for the Oscars this year are Tangerine, a dark comedy feature film about a Prostitute which was filmed entirely with an Iphone. And Jauja, an incredible foreign film that I recommend to anyone who likes weird Kubrick type films. I’m not saying Tangerine should’ve been nominated, but it didn’t even have a chance due to the camera which was used to shoot it. Jauja, however, should’ve. It wasn’t considered for best Foreign film due to its style of shooting.
By the way, not meeting technical qualifications excludes you from EVERY category. Not just one.

Oscar Flaw #4- What? You don’t have enough money to promote your film and You haven’t won another award?  Fahget aboud it!

                   Every award ceremony and festival has it’s technicalities, so don’t judge the academy too harshly. However, there are other rules (and this goes for other film award ceremonies too) which to me seem ridiculous. The Oscars doesn’t allow films that have not been in theaters by a certain date to be nominated. (Jessica Chastain could’ve easily won Best Actress in 2014 for her role in A Most Violent Year. However the film did not quality, as it came out in December 31st. The deadline was apparently December 29th.) There are other technicalities like limited releases and promotion deals that go into it. For example, to be considered your film must have come out in at least a limited release in theaters, and have been in at least one major film festival. This means, among other things, that straight-to-DVD and streaming service films usually do not get into the awards. The biggest example of this unfair technicality is Beasts of No Nation. The Netflix movie didn’t qualify, and thus was excluded from all nominations, regardless of trying to release their film in limited theaters to be qualified, coming out in film festivals and winning numerous awards. The Academy had a big beef with Netflix over the release and as a result, No Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, or best Cinematography nominations, all which it deserved (Specially best supporting actor for Edris Elba).
However, that’s just one of the films this happens to. There are countless films, every year.

Oscar Flaw #5- Sorry, we forgot your film came out this year.

             Speaking of promotion: There are certain films which are not going for an Oscar and don’t come out in festivals. However, they’re so well done and they get so much hype going with promotion and critical reviews that they deserve mentioning, and the Oscar gives them what is called an Oscar “nod.” This means even though you weren’t going for it, your film deserved to be mentioned. An example of it is this year’s The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, which is winning awards all over the place.
                    However, what if your film is awesome, but it came out in February? Most likely it will not end up being considered, because how can you keep hype going for an extended amount of months? If you’re lucky it will get considered for the technical awards. Every year, films and performances that could use the promotion and are incredible in their content and direction are forgotten about by the academy. An example of this (And one i’m really upset about) this year, is Love & Mercy, directed by Bill Pohlad. This film had great acting and directing from the entire cast, was moving, and was most definitely Oscar material. However, it was not considered for any Oscars, including what I thought it deserved a WIN for: Sound Mixing and Editing. One that upset me even more is most definitely Hillary Swank‘s performance in The Homesman. The film came out in August and despite it’s shortcomings, including Tommy Lee Jones’s slow directing style, Hillary Swank shined and made the entire film worth watching in the end. How can the Academy forget performances like this?
I’ll Marry you Hillary…

Oscar Flaw #6- Here’s your Oscar! we forgot to give it to you!

                   Once in a while, you get an Oscar that doesn’t really make sense at all. Sometimes it doesn’t feel deserved, or it doesn’t compare to the person’s work before the film they won it for. So why do they get it? Because, they haven’t gotten it.
                    Once in a while a director, technical supervisor or actor doesn’t get an Oscar for a while so they just give them one regardless of who else is in their category. This not only makes for a lot of the other controversial choices that the Academy has made, but also makes you wonder, why the hell not for any of their other work?
                    An example: Al Pacino, who was acting for quite some time and was in a lot of films, was nominated many times throughout his career. Despite this, he had never won an Oscar, and so in 1992, he was awarded with an Oscar for a film called Scent of A Woman. While giving a great performance, he wasn’t the stand-out in the actors to win. Another bigger example is Martin Scorsese, who was nominated for directing 8 times, and won for the most unexpected film, The Departed. Scorsese’s directing is so strong that he got his actors nominated for Oscars 22 times. The man got Nicholas Cage a nomination for gods sake! Yet he gets a nomination for arguably one of his most entertaining, yet less stunning films, just because. At least he finally got to join his classmates from college in the Oscar love.

Final Oscar Flaw: Your film is the best of the year according to us, but it’s not gonna get Best PictureThis is a problem that hopefully will get fixed with the new voting changes the Academy is implementing. The movie voting procedure for best film was made to pick the most WIDELY liked film, not the best made one, or the most moving one, or the best looking one. The academy has different members, some of them looking at acting, some of them at directing, and some of them looking at the movie as a whole. Since a lot of them are anonymous, they could be producers, actors, directors or any number of things. There’s no easy way to explain the voting without rambling, and I think I’ve written enough. I’ll let Vox’s Youtube channel explain it to you.

(By the way, fu*k you Vox. I loved The King’s Speech)
              So, voting being changed, and membership being changed means it’s hard to know which film might be nominated in the future, for better or worst. Let’s hope there’s a little more diversity, and a little more flexibility added in the future as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime will be moving in feature film making soon.

So why praise the Oscars?

                     Don’t get me wrong, the Oscars are great. Every year, I watch the films which are nominated because they tend to be some of the best standout films of the year, and just like the Oscar nominees say, it’s always an honor just to be nominated. However, I’ve seen better films that are not nominated almost every single time, so don’t ever let the fact that these films are in “the most prestigious awards ceremony in film” make you think that they’re the best films of the year. Because more times then not, films that are looked over deserved the gold statue more.

I’ll be making a list of these films from last year soon.

Thanks for reading.

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