With the 2017 Oscars now behind us, we saw another time for film fans to celebrate the most prestigious and biggest film event of the year. Not everyone was celebrating though: I was complaining about it.
Now, don't get me wrong. I still love the show. It's just that, well, perhaps for that very same sense of prestige, the Oscars' flaws and issues are also more apparent. Therefore, in order to fully enjoy the aftermath of this event, I figured I'd get some of them out of my system — not to bash #Oscars, but to celebrate what an awesome event it is despite its flaws. With that said, let's get right into it.
1. Heavy Predictability Of The Results
Naturally, when it comes to rating movies or performances, it's always a bit of an impossible task from an objective point of view. So, in that sense, one can't really fault the Academy for sticking to certain patterns and formulas while picking the nominees and winners. They have to go about it somehow and — for a prestigious award show like that — consistency in decision making goes a long way to cement its credibility (especially considering that we always end up with some great nominees).
Yet, it's one thing to have a certain method behind the madness to subjectively rate movies (and everything that goes into their production). It's a completely different thing however to have a set of factors that seem to make film's chances of winning sky rocket, like:
- Being a (tragic) true story
- Being about certain historical periods like II World War or Golden Age of Hollywood
- A film that is centered around or celebrates Hollywood (or acting as profession in general)
- A film with a relevant or topical social commentary
- A film that is released late in the year and etc.
The issue here is rather obvious. Having these quite strict patterns of picking winners have often created situations where a competent film, which has simply ticked many of these boxes, overshadows some more exciting and ambitious ones that haven't. This, in turn, means that we seem to be getting more and more of these so-called Oscar bait movies, which is not necessarily the best direction for film industry to move towards.
Now, obviously, I'm not saying that it is somehow bad when a film boasts many of these above-listed attributes and that it immediately becomes a shameless Oscar bait. In fact, when we get a truly great film — which just so happens to tick many of these boxes — it's a win-win for everyone. I simply feel that the whole thing could really use more variety, excitement and unpredictability.
2. A Need For A Wider And More Varied Grasp On The World Of Cinema
Many would probably agree that, as a celebration of cinema on the whole, the Oscars often tend to fall a bit short. This year being no exception as we had many excellent films from genres like anime (#KimiNoNaWa), superhero/fantasy (#Deadpool, #RogueOne) and action/comedy (#TheNiceGuys, What We Do In The Shadows) that just didn't get much attention (if any). Same thing goes for some interesting and profound smaller movies (#SingStreet, #TheEdgeOfSeventeen, Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
Now, understandably, you can't cover them all and it's not like the show completely lacks variety. For example, many truly great foreign films get a fair amount of love, and we do get some surprise nominations from time to time as well. Yet, this does little to change my opinion that the Academy should be more open to taking chances and generally more creative with the categories.
Although, a strong counter argument could be made that perhaps the Oscars would risk losing its pedigree and prestige if the whole thing becomes (shall we say) too playful. However, when tweaking the format carefully (and keeping in mind that the most important thing should always be the celebration of film and cinema), it's hard to imagine that it wouldn't improve the show while also engaging even more people to watch and follow it.
3. Too Much Emphasis On Winning
Now, saying that it shouldn't be about who wins might come across as of bit of a moot point when talking about an award show. However, going back to the Academy Awards being first and foremost a celebration and not a competition, declaring a winner kind of undercuts it a bit.
Let's look at it like that. We have this cool night where the year in cinema is celebrated and a selection of some brighter contributors are highlighted in form of the nominees. So far so good. Then, in whatever category, the winner is declared and the focus shifts from a celebration to choosing the best in this subjective art form.
Yet, this really is kind of a nitpick, since giving these awards is both a nice gesture and (rather obviously) a good excuse to give this night some focus and context. This also leads us nicely to why I still love this show regardless of its flaws.
A Perfect Way To Celebrate And Reflect
Here's the thing: By simply being this grand celebration of cinema, this show already serves a great purpose. Whether it's discussing and reflecting on the truly awesome films (and everything within them) that were nominated, or passionately making a case for some brilliant snubbed ones, it's a perfect way to look back at our favorite cinematic moments from the year and bring many that we missed to our attention. To me, that alone is more than enough of a reason to love the Oscars, regardless of the issues I might have with it.