94 years ago, the first Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, were held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. At this first ceremony, the winners already knew they had won and the ceremony was more of a get-together for the Hollywood elite. Fast forward almost a century and we have the upcoming 94th Academy Awards on March 27. Now, instead of political opinions of the past being presented, there is a high dosage of new political statements, so bluntly stated and broadcasted, to the point where one may think, why should anyone care about what actually happens at the Oscars?
This year, a fair number of films were nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year. The titles include “Don’t Look Up,” “Dune,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” and “West Side Story,” just to name a few. There seems to be a trend here, with big names such as Steven Speilberg being nominated for Best Director and a Best Picture (“West Side Story”), Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture (“Nightmare Alley”), and Paul Thomas Anderson for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture (“Licorice Pizza”). Who would have guessed?
Kenneth Branagh also got nominated for Best Director for his film “Belfast.” I’m happy he is being recognized because he has a true passion for filmmaking. In 1996, he made a 4-hour long version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” emulating Laurence Olivier by directing and starring as the titular character. Jane Campion has also returned to the Oscars after not having been nominated since 1993 for her film “The Piano,” can you believe it? The Academy actually nominated a woman director…twice! Her film, “The Power of the Dog,” is one of two Netflix films nominated for Best Picture, the other being “Don’t Look Up.” Streaming services have become a large part of the filmmaking industry for the past decade. Even Apple TV+ earned a nomination with “CODA” for Best Picture. “Dune” is the chosen Science Fiction film of the year, as it is not rivaled by any other action-packed film in the Best Picture category. Finally, there is the one foreign film nominated for Best Picture: “Drive My Car” from Japan. While these are all great movies, many other exceptional movies of the year were left out of the nominations.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Fallout,” “Respect,” “ In the Heights,” “The Last Duel,” “The Card Counter,” “Spencer,” “tick, tick,…BOOM!,” and “The Green Knight” are among the most notable movies missing from this year’s nominations for Best Picture. This award singles out one film that apparently stands out above all the rest.
In my previous article, “What is this shit?: Criticizing the Critics,” I discuss the negatives of criticism and how one could possibly see the world through a lens without critics. The rating services and viewers’ reviews all ruin the experience of watching something for the first time. Spoilers are broadcast everywhere, for example, only a few weeks after the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” people already knew what was going to happen! Although criticism creates a large dam of unwanted politics and unusable opinions, criticism is necessary. Criticism can create obstructions or it can create freedom within the arts. When one is pressured by critics to create something great, to stretch beyond their limits to reach their full artistic potential, some of the great masterpieces of world art are created. However, this process can also be extremely deprecating and stressful for the artist. In this sense, criticism can be an obstruction to creativity, and often is, but it can also build the talent of an artist and/or entertainer.
So, while watching the Oscars this year just remember that any movie that wins has won because someone that you don’t know (most likely) voted for that film because they liked it and really for no other reason. And if you do know the person who voted, it is still another person’s opinion. And if you are the person who voted, congratulations you voted! Any artist leaving the Oscars on March 27 without an award should be proud that they produced art and that they succeeded in overcoming the obstacles of Hollywood.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment