The Oscars – a competition of the elite or a celebration of film? On February 28th, the 89th Academy Awards takes place in Hollywood and there are some big expectations for the night. However, over the years it’s become more apparent that these awards concentrate on the studios and stars who know ‘how to play the game’. It seems each year they pick a film and just ‘go for it!’; this year La La Land has scooped up 14 nominations. The real question is, does it deserve them?
Blockbuster films are nominated by a judging panel made up of 93% males who favour white nominees and fail to acknowledge female directors, writers or producers. Last year we saw the contention created when Selma received no Oscar nominations for it’s director, Ava DuVernay, or it’s star David Oyelowo. The subject of Leonardo di Caprio’s Oscar-less career came to a high last year when he won Best Actor for The Revenant. While his role in the movie was fantastic, it seemed to be a case of ‘we better give di Caprio an Oscar for one of his movies before the internet breaks’. His role in The Wolf Of Wall Street and Titanic were far superior in my opinion.
Let me ask you, have you ever noticed that the movies nominated for the Oscars are all released just before the event? Five out of nine movies running for Best Picture this year are still in the cinema and two haven’t even made it into Irish cinemas yet! The rules from the Academy clearly state that the Oscar year is ‘between January 1, 2016, and midnight of December 31, 2016’. Despite this, studios release movies they deem worthy for an Oscar towards the end of the year so the films are fresh in the critics and judges minds… So does that mean if they were released in May they wouldn’t have got an Oscar? Essentially yes. What about Deadpool, Finding Dory, Sing Street and the many more who have been completely ignored.
So, I hear you ask, why La La Land? What makes it so special to be nominated for 14 Oscars? Honestly, not that much. Set in contemporary Los Angeles the cinematography style reflects an onstage musical with the costumes and props creating the illusion that the movie is set in the 1950’s. With passionate main characters, their dreams are the driving force behind the main plot. The definition for a musical is a play or film in which singing and dancing play an essential part… I don’t know if it’s just me but the quality of singing and dancing is very poor. The voices lack a powerful ability to knock the audience out of their seats while there is simply no creativity in the choreography of the dancing. As the critic, Owen Gleiberman states: ‘“La La Land” isn’t a masterpiece (and on some level it wants to be).’
So can we compare La La Land to movies gone by like Schindler’s List, Titanic, Braveheart and Casablanca who all won an Oscar for Best Picture in their time. Yes the Oscars are good for awarding movies – but it’s a contest for the elite. Yes they nominate new up-and-coming stars but very few actually win an award.
I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when the celebrities hit the red carpet in their exquisite gowns and dapper suits to attend the 89th Academy Awards.