I’ve had a romantic fantasy with the Oscars for several years now. As a kid I’d daydream about somehow making it to Hollywood, a no-namer starring in a sleeper hit and defying the odds to win Oscar gold. The self-described little actor who could. Time has gone past with absolutely no progress but the daydream is still there.
A couple of years ago I made it a resolution to go out and see more films, it was about time I got out of the house more and was something I’d always enjoyed. Then last year I was sitting around with the Dudette and a thought crossed my mind: did I have the chops to critique cinema? Then one night the two of us went to see Gone Girl, and I think the only person who disliked it more than me was her.
When we got home I had a flash of inspiration and I started writing what would become my first blog post. Halfway through I put aside what was fast becoming a novella but after some encouraging words from the Dudette I decided to finish it off. With my confidence renewed I went in search of a site to host my musing’s and discovered WordPress. I took on the persona of The Movie Review Dude and everything has just snow-balled from there. Once upon a time I’d go purely for entertainment, but as time has passed I’ve refined my skills and discovered a new perspective on the films I view. Since beginning this blog I’ve noticed the little things others might skip over and as of January and February I’ve had to make a major adjustment.
I love everything about awards season. Who’s nominated, where they’ve been categorised and who missed out always intrigues me. When the media coverage began and the best films of 2014 boiled to the surface I suddenly had a thought: could I host my own awards ceremony? I’ve always loved the thought of attending but to host would be on a much more plausible level. Of course I had the platform to do it so I dove head-first into it and discovered just how tough it actually is to pull off.
As I began my research into what films made the grade last year the nominees for the various awards ceremonies were being released. These were to be my initial template so I made sure to note them all but as I continued discovering films I’d never heard of from across the globe and the nominees kept coming and I began to notice a recurrence. As I delved into genres such as animation and documentaries I noticed some repetition and by the time I was into foreign language films I had realised the secularity. For every category there were usually five nominees, and apart from a few deviances it were as if someone had made an exclusive list for them to copy. In three months my total and utter devotion to the validity of these ceremonies had been shaken.
I remember at one point listing the countless number of films I had discovered and comparing them to the nominations. My extensive efforts were purely so I could offer as broad a spectrum as possible so as to determine who really were the most worthy and after such an in-depth comparison I began to take on this very bleak look at the industry and their definition of what constituted ‘Oscar-worthy’.
Not only were the same films nominated again and again but they were incredibly localised to the most well-known productions, and as far as I could tell any others were either not considered at all or classified as niche and banished to their particular category. Similar categories, such as Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, featured near-identical nominees (American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, and Unbroken featured twice, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Whiplash filled the other two slots), while Best Make-Up and Hairstyling had only three nominees. Documentaries and foreign language films were considered the aforementioned niche while others were not featured at all in favour of those who were better known with bigger-budgets and famous faces. However the worst part was how well those not nominated shaped up, as some were just as good while others were even better.
Looking back I’ve been a bit harsh so I must say the Oscar’s do get it right, and example the acting nominees, which are on the money but for maybe a couple of near misses. And this is not any sort of anti-American sentiment as I’m purely criticising the Academy and what I see to be an inclination to nominate the most famous and not necessarily the best. I mean, this is the Oscar’s – the film awards of film awards. Am I to believe that no animated, documentary or foreign films feature in the eight best of the year and that American Sniper is despite under-performing critically to an extent? Of course this is just one man’s opinion but after the research I have done I feel like there were a fair few robberies committed on February 22.
My bleak look on things has lifted as I still enjoy the concept of the Oscar’s but my perspective has forever changed. Marion Collitard’s nomination is now all the more impressive to me while Jean Dujardin’s win in 2012 is amazing. It makes me think to previous years and wonder how many missed out and how many trophies went to the wrong film? We celebrate them as undeniably great but if the whole of the competition is not fairly represented then are they really deserving? In some regard yes but will there be an asterisk next to the name? Does it tarnish the achievement of winning an Oscar?
Every year you can always identify those who were just making up the numbers. If they could simply open their eyes to the larger world around them we might have a far more unpredictable and interesting ceremony. After the work I’ve put in in the past three months I’ve found it hard to take as much stock in this years winners but I still think of the Oscar’s as an essential part of the industry. I’ll continue to follow them as to win one is still a huge achievement and worthy of praise, it’s just personally not what it used to be. My scope has been blown wide open and while I’ve sacrificed one aspect it’s led to something much better. I’m now striving more than ever before to see that my own ceremony mirrors my new perspective, and I hope all of you will see it too. And I’m still daydreaming.