The Academy Awards have always kinda been the creme of the crop of entertainment awards. That was once a glamourous achievement, but as the 20th Century neared its end, they became somewhat of a outdated concept and still continue to show its age into the 2000s. It became to look like a Chamber of Commerce awards banquet with the same collection of people winning. You could see the problem in the 1980s as movies like The Last Emperor, Out of Africa and Driving Miss Daisy (all period piece movies) seemed to enjoy the gold, while groundbreaking movies like Do the Right Thing were shunned.
During the independent movie craze of the 1990s, some movies seemed to be overlooked while others were being praised for being nominated. Movies like Babe, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Full Monty, all seemed to be more remembered more than other nominated movies. People still talk about Fargo almost 27 years later while The English Patient is mostly remembered for a running gag on Seinfeld. Only two movies in the 1990s, which won Best Picture, were set during modern times. They are The Silence of the Lambs and American Beauty. And time wasn’t too kind to the latter. The rest were period piece epic sagas that screamed Oscar bait.
The 2000s didn’t fare any better as Chicago won and one movie critic said you could hear the silent groans as Harvey Weinstein was telling the whole cast and crew get up on stage. Some movies, like Dreamgirls, were rightfully snubbed because they didn’t have the right appeal they should. Bolder movies like Million Dollar Baby, The Departed, No Country for Old Men and yes, even Crash were the big winners. Then, there was Slumdog Millionaire, which no one saw. I still laugh at how many media used the below photo when referencing the movie. (FYI, he’s taking a shit! No, serious, he’s squatting to drop a deuce. And this was used in so many media.)
But after the 2008 debacle where people felt The Dark Knight and WALL-E were snubbed, the Oscars changed the number of nominated movies for the first time in decades to include up to 10 movies. And in 2010, The King’s Speech, with the true-life story of King George VI of England overcoming his stutter was the contender. This was shortly after Tropic Thunder parodied these type of movies with Simple Jack. They also missed the line in Wayne’s World where Mike Myers parodied Oscar clips with the line, “I never learned to read” but gave the Oscar to Kate Winslet who couldn’t fucking read in The Reader.
The 2010s didn’t fare any better. Matthew McConnaughey won an Oscar but so did Green Book. Remember Green Book? The guy who filmed Jeff Daniels shitting into a toilet in Dumb and Dumber and Ben Stiller cumming so hard it landed on his ear lobe made it and won an Oscar. But even though the Oscars were awarding movies like Birdman, Spotlight and The Shape of Water, you could feel there was still a feeling the Oscars were stuck in the past. And Green Book‘s win solidified that. It was basically Driving Miss Daisy but with a reversal.
As Donald Trump criticized the win of Parasite in 2020, it was evident, people still like old period piece movies like Gone With the Wind and expected them to win. The Artist with its silent movie theme was a no-brainer. And even if there wasn’t a mistake in the Moonlight/La La Land fiasco, the latter movie, which was a musical almost seemed like the type of bygone era movies Oscar voters like. The Oscars were still stuck in the 20th Century, the Golden Age of Hollywood. Miley Cyrus is a presenter and is criticized. People want Billy Crystal back to kiss the celebrities’ asses the right way. Seth MacFarlane angered people but he was far better at his job than Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes.
Earlier today, the Oscars nominees for this year were announced and I have to commend the Oscars for including Top Gun: Maverick in the Best Picture category along with Avatar: The Way of Water. The two movies were the biggest money makers and got good reviews. Last year, Jimmy Kimmel criticized the nomination of Don’t Look Up while suggesting Spider-Man: No Way Home was better. He was right.
This year, the Oscars Best Picture seem to split down the middle with other bigger budget movies Elvis, Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Fabelmans being nominated along with All Quiet on the Western Front (also nominated for Best Foreign Language) and art-house movies like The Banshees of Inisherin, Tar, Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking. Maybe the Oscars should take a cue from the Golden Globes and nominate the more bigger studio movies in one category and the arthouse movies in another.
Even though Everything is an absurdist surreal comedy-drama, I have a feeling the inclusion of the lesser known movies are to satisfy the critics. They’re the ones that are the most “It’s just an honor to be nominated” worthy. That being said, Brendan Fraser, who was considered a contender for The Whale, may go home empty handed as the Golden Globes awarded both Colin Farrell and Austin Butler for Bashees and Elvis, respectively. Backlash against the movie might keep it from winning. I haven’t seen it, but I have see the other two and I didn’t think neither Farrell or Butler did as good of work as they should.
Barring an upset by Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans or Cate Blanchett for Tar, it looks like Michelle Yeoh ought to be a big contender for Everything and Ke Huy Quan should pick up a Best Supporting Oscar himself because he’s the real comeback kid of 2022. Sorry Brendan. That being said, the Oscars would do their best to award the Best Director awards to the Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). It’s clearly an impressive effort by the two. Steven Spielberg already has two Oscars but Fabelmans isn’t as well known.
Angela Bassett may finally win her first Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which some speculated would’ve been nominated for Best Picture. Or will Jamie Lee Curtis walk away after being nominated for the first time in her 45-year film career? I was a little disappointed James Hong, at 93, was overlooked. But the man’s in two Oscar nominated movies. In addition to Everything, he was also in Turning Red which is nominated for Best Animated Movie.
I look for Elvis, Top Gun and Avatar to battle it out in many of the technical awards. They usually do in these categories. But at least this year, the Oscars have learned their mistake from last year and they are going to show these categories in the telecast on March 12. And that’s why I think Crystal needs to be kept away from the Oscars. Years ago, he said he would return as host only if they got rid of some of the categories. It reminded me of that video of the clergy presiding over a wedding but getting upset at the videographer. Crystal’s heyday of singing about movies is gone.
This is the Oscars 95th annual presentation. As they gear up for their own 100th celebration, I think they are finally learning to adapt. I would suggest if they’re going to nominate up to 10 movies, they consider nominating more directors. Sarah Polley got a nomination for screenplay but not for direction for Women Talking. But I’m sure that discussion has been had many times.
And even though some people question why we still have the Oscars? Why do we still have the Super Bowl or tuhe World Series? We need as much of a focus on arts and entertainment now more than ever.
What do you think? Please comment.