If you've read a few of my posts, you might catch on to the fact that I'm a little bit of a movie junkie. I'm not too crazy, but I love my films and even though Vogue.com should probably be my homepage as a fashion student, it's really Entertainment Weekly that I check first thing in the morning. I eat pop culture for breakfast and dream about it at night. Since we are officially a week away from the Oscars, I figured it is time for a conversation. As a movie and fashion enthusiast, I really love awards shows. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the faults and how antiquated they are, but they're also so much fun.
You get to see your favorite celebrity friends all gussied up (Clooney, Bullock, etc.), pretending to be friends with each other (or actually hanging out with their friends), getting occasionally star struck, and being forced to speak to Ryan Seacrest. It's all fun and games in my book. PLUS there are some amazing moments that happen within the shows, which, at heart, are there for a good purpose - to recognize artists for their work. Who can forget Sally Field's acceptance speech at the Oscar's for Places in the Heart? Or Jim Rash and Nat Faxon making fun of Angelina Jolie's absurd leg posing while accepting their Oscar for their sublime movie, The Descendants behind Alexander Payne? What about when Brad Pitt had a cane at the Golden Globes and George Clooney stole it to make fun of him onstage, and the way they continually joke around as a heartfelt testament to their true friendship? The best speeches where the honored's true personality comes through: Clooney again, Julia Roberts' utter exuberance, Matt and Ben's youth and spaziness, and who can forget Cuba Gooding Jr.'s pure joy? All this good however, doesn't necessarily make up for my biggest beef with the Oscars. If you've ever taken a look at Rotten Tomatoes you'll find something very interesting. There are many films that score higher than some Oscar nominees from critics that are completely ignored. Some of these are action films. Some are quiet indies. Some are just too intelligent or brutal to be considered mainstream. Why don't they receive any love?
Keep in mind that I am not questioning why certain movies have been nominated, only why certain great movies fail to be nominated as well. These are some of Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 movies from 2012. Oscar nominees are noted by an asterisk. The winner for the year is noted with a double asterisk.
Skyfall and The Avengers are classic action films done brilliantly. Are they viewed as brilliant only because they're action films and are thus held to lower standards? Or are they not recognized because very few people think that action films can be taken seriously enough to hold up to and be honored with other more "prestigious" films?
Looper's lack of recognition was one of the most frustrating snubs to me. Rian Johnson has consistently made thoughtful, intelligent, and wildly creative films. He has yet to repeat himself. His first film was a modern film noir. His second was a colorful con film. His third, Looper, was a bleak tale set in a futuristic version of Earth and involving time travel and mind bending theories. It was acted tremendously, written on such a high level, and it felt like a punch in the gut. I didn't speak for at least ten minutes after the credits stopped rolling because I was so absorbed and lost in the world that once it released me I didn't really know what to do. Rian Johnson creates complete worlds and does a magnificent job at doing so. How is filmmaking like this just completely ignored in every aspect?
What about smaller movies like Bernie and Safety Not Guaranteed? Bernie was a favorite among critics - some even putting it on their Best lists. Safety Not Guaranteed was unconventional and charming. It was a thoughtful little journey that continuously challenged your notions of the truth in a way that, instead of making your head hurt, made you consider how you lead your life and the chances that you should maybe go after more often.
Great movies are great no matter the genre. Remember the days when Beauty and the Beast (93%) was nominated for Best Picture? Not Best Animated Picture - just plain, good ole Best Picture. Up (98%) was the latest animated film to be bestowed with this honor, and rightly so. Imagine if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (96%) was nominated? Many agreed that it was the best of the Harry Potter's, one of the great movies of the year, and just a great film period. Why did The Almighty Academy fail to take notice of one of the most influential stories of the early 21st century? Similarly, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (93%) was one of the best action movies in a while. It was sharp and funny as well as electric and perfectly balanced between character and action. Yet, not even a mention. Super 8 (82%) was a movie that should be destined to be a classic and is a brilliant ode to the movies that came before it, from the likes of Spielberg and it was completely ignored.
Everybody wishes that the Oscars were a little more well rounded and even though I will continue to enjoy them, I will still be rooting for them to call out my favorite non-dramas come nomination time. In a dream world, maybe films like Iron Man 3 (78%), Star Trek: Into Darkness (87%), This is The End (83%), The Spectacular Now (92%), Short Term 12 (99%), Fruitvale Station (94%) and other unexpected movies would be shown some worthy love... however, since we live in a world of campaigning and Oscar bait, this isn't the case. Rounding out this year's list of Best Picture nominees is a group of films that prove the power of campaigning and release timing: American Hustle (93%), Captain Phillips (93%), Dallas Buyers Club (94%), Gravity (97%), Her (94%), Nebraska (92%), Philomena (92%), 12 Years a Slave (96%), and The Wolf of Wall Street (77%). This list is unfortunately an inaccurate portrayal of the deserving, great movies that came out this year.
So here are my questions for you: Are you happy with the movies nominated this year? Do you think that the Academy is a-okay or is the system broken? Lastly, what would you have nominated this year?
If you want some more food for thought, these are worth a read: