Olly Krizan on the Oscars…
While we’re warming our winter woes with the glitz and glamour of awards season, The Academy are having yet another nightmare of a year. This time around they’ve decided to get ahead of the game by airing these issues before the ceremony has even taken place. From what I can tell this years show looks to be worse than the torrid drudgery of the BAFTAS (and that is saying a lot). So without further ado let’s have a look at the comedy of errors (and crucially bad calls) the Oscars have made over the years.
Firstly, they’ve lost their host for this year’s ceremony and decided not to replace him. This leaves us with a three hour journey on a captainless ship of filthy rich celebrities crying over who gets a new gold bloke for their bookcase. There will be nobody steering and subsequently little chance of lighthearted hazing to remind these lovies of their humanity. Even more bizarrely, is the decision to cut some key awards from the aired programme and instead present them during an ad break. This includes Cinematography and Film Editing. Literally two of the most integral aspects of making cinema, will not be publicly celebrated at an awards ceremony celebrating the art of cinema…WHAT?!
Of course this isn’t the first time such blunders have been at the forefront of this glam-fest. Lest we forget the La La Land/Moonlight debacle, the ‘OscarsSoWhite’ controversy or the hilarious ‘Travolta-gate.’ However we have also been witness to some monumental cock-ups where the actual winners are concerned. Best Picture has been home to some pretty ridiculous howlers in particular going back as far as 1976. This is the year that had distinguished movies such as Network, All The Presidents Men and Taxi Driver amongst the nominees and what won? What masterpiece of cinema could have staved off such stiff competition? Fucking Rocky. Now I appreciate a boxing/sport/underdog story as much as the next legend, but Taxi Driver, come on, it’s TAXI DRIVER! A seminal and thought-provoking piece of art and most definitely a ‘film’ to Rocky’s ‘movie.’
I wish it stopped there, but then Rain Man beat Mississippi Burning in ’88, Driving Miss Daisy won in ’89 over My Left Foot and Dances With Wolves pipped Goodfellas to the post in 1990. This is where shit gets serious. The nineties is kind of my era, due in no small part to my age. This was a decade which saw the release of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, The Full Monty, Saving Private Ryan, The Cider House Rules and The Green Mile and NONE OF THEM WON BEST PICTURE!
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, American Beauty was a worthy winner. But when you consider that Saving Private Ryan lost to Shakespeare In Love, Shawshank and Pulp Fiction both lost to Forrest Gump and in 1995 (the year of the historically fictitious Braveheart’s Oscar steal) the thrilling Se7en and best twist ever magazines all time favourite The Usual Suspects weren’t even nominated. Let’s not even start with Chicago beating Gangs of New York.
It occurs to me that the only way to win a Best Picture Oscar is to appeal directly to old white men. Historically, new exciting or different films just don’t win. Also helps to be white in all the other categories as well by the way. However, and it’s a big however this time, things are changing. Ever so slowly the awards are beginning to diversify and it really is overdue. In 2017 we (eventually) saw Moonlight take home the honour, and my tip for this year would be a record breaker, as Roma could stand to become the first foreign language Best Picture in Oscars history. Not only that, but an actual superhero blockbuster commercial hit, Black Panther, is nominated as well (though this may not be a good thing).
What does all this mean for the future of the Academy Awards I hear you ask? Well. That’s a good question reader. It definitely looks like we’re heading in the right direction at least. The awards are diversifying and terrible decisions are becoming less frequent, or maybe the nominees are getting worse, I just don’t know anymore. The real question is, are the Academy losing sight of their initial mission statement? “To recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences.” Removing cinematography from the ceremony is surely contrary to that goal and more geared towards entertainment than recognition of excellent art. I guess only time will tell, will I be watching come February 24th? I’d sooner watch the vomit-inducing “jokes” from the BAFTAs on repeat for the rest of my life with Tommy Wiseau reading excerpts from Mein Kampf to me while doggedly masturbating and addressing me as “LISA!” with grim persistance than sit through even ten minutes of what is sure to be a disaster of a show.
Alas, we can’t have it all. So yes. I will be watching.