James shares his thoughts on the most recent Oscars season. "How has awards season gotten so long, and so exhausting?"
By James A. Molnar
Let normal sleep schedules commence.
For the past few weeks, it’s been a whirlwind. From awards show in propinquity to press releases ad nauseum, journalists (and even the public) are collectively breathing a sigh of relief as this awards season has come to a close.
Sure there will be a few events, film festivals and announcements here and there, but thankfully they will have some space to breathe.
How has awards season gotten so long, and so exhausting?
Feb. 22’s Oscars capped off a special season this year, filled with more dissent and vitriol than normal. (Or maybe I’m just watching social media more.)
This year seemed normal going into nominations on Jan. 15. There was a fantastic feeling around some of the nominated films, including “Boyhood” and “Birdman.”
Then #OscarsSoWhite happened.
People were up in arms over what they believed to be snubs for “Selma” in multiple categories, the result of a non-diverse motion picture academy. The hashtag on Twitter was created with this feeling in mind.
Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris awkwardly joked about this in his monologue.
“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest,” he said.
While “12 Years a Slave” won for Best Picture just last year, it appeared that any progress made toward diverse inclusion had been reversed.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted for outstanding achievements of 2014. Members may not have meant to specifically exclude “Selma,” but surely not enough members voted to include it.
Was this specifically about the Oscars, or a larger question about the state of Hollywood and the studios that make the big films? What exactly is the problem and how can it be fixed?
Everyone brings his or her own perspective and opinion to the Oscars. After all, choosing “the best” is subjective. Look at previous winners of Academy Awards. Wouldn’t a film winning many awards for technical achievements or acting be a shoo-in for Best Picture?
Last year, “Gravity” took home seven Oscars in Best Director and the technical categories, yet lost Best Picture to “12 Years a Slave,” which ended the night with three Oscars.
These awards are chosen by a specific group of people. They happen to skew more white and more male.
But the public holds the Academy to a higher standard because its awards are supposed to represent all facets of the film industry and honor the best achievements of the previous year. It’s the gold standard, a seal of approval. But again, that can be really subjective.
The ceremony itself lost 16 percent of its record-breaking audience from last year, which was the best in a decade.
The biggest film nominated for Best Picture at the box office this year was “American Sniper.” The movie-going public, which votes with its wallet, chose “Sniper.”
Yet it didn’t win.
Maybe the exclusion of big ticket films from the top category kept audiences away. Or maybe the Olympics helped the Oscars last year, by giving awards season a monthlong break.
Demanding change from the Academy, along with Hollywood, is healthy and important.
As another season has come and gone, my favorite film was still “Boyhood.” That doesn’t change.
There were a few achievements honored on Oscar Sunday I was thrilled about.
One of my favorite composers was finally honored, Alexandre Desplat. His eighth nomination for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was the winner.
My favorite animated film of the year was honored, “Big Hero 6.”
And two great actresses were handed Oscar gold, Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” and Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood.”
Hopefully this awards season taught us something. It has certainly left us with many questions.