Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Will the Oscars Recognize Better Films

For the first time, I'm using a clip from The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore to discuss the lack of African American nominees from the Oscars this year.  Changes are being made to the Academy Membership to make it more representative.  Time will tell if these changes will make next years nominees more diverse.  The current nominees are being handicapped by the site Five Thirty Eight.  Even among avant guard white filmmakers the Academy has a long history of overlooking brilliant filmmakers and actors.

The blog has a list of what it believes were great films, actors and directors that the author believes were snubbed by the Oscars.  The best examples of this would be Alfred Hitchcock (the master of suspense), Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, My Favorite Year, and 6 other films), Cary Grant (Notorious, Suspicion), Citizen Kane (the "Greatest Film of All Time" According to AFI, it did win best original screenplay for Orson Welles, his only Oscar), Marilyn Monroe (Bus Stop), and Harrison Ford (Witness).

There are others on the list which you may want to include.  It certainly is subjective.  Many believe that Martin Scorsese's film Raging Bull was robbed of an Oscar in favor of Ordinary People.  I personally thought the two films were about equal.  They struck a chord with me in different ways.

The reforms in the Academy membership may lead to a more representative set of nominees each year but will it lead to more films being nominated which challenge the status quo.  The film Straight Outta Compton (which I haven't seen) is said to be a blunt story of contemporary issues in the African American community.  The film 12 Years a Slave won the best picture award in 2014 which is a story of slavery which occurred 160 years ago that no one can do anything about.  Straight Outta Compton deals with issues that we can do something about.

What is a better measure of a films greatness than the Oscars is whether or not people are still watching and talking about a film years after it was made.  Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, and Truth may be one of those films like Raging Bull and Ordinary People (it is often sown on cable).  

The boycott by African American actors Will Smith and Spike Lee may have the desired effect next year Woody Allen has been boycotting the Oscars for years and has been nominated 24 times regardless.

Imagine if the four Best Actress and Best Actor categories were combined into two categories: Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  Such a move would expose sexism in Hollywood as most of the academy voters are male and I believe that males would dominate the categories.  I'm not saying that separate categories for African American filmmakers and actors be established.  I am saying that this highlights the dilemma for Oscar voters.

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