The Academy Awards
Hello let’s go ahead and get introductions out of the way. My name is Ryan Hope and I have been going to UCF now for about 2 years now and I will be graduating in the fall. My major is in Journalism with a minor in Cinema Studies. I’ve always had a deep love of film ever since I can remember. I generally hold no preconceived notions before I see movies and I’m willing to give any movie a chance if anyone recommends it.
One subject about film that has always frustrated me and excited me at the same time is the Academy Awards. I don’t know why I put myself through it every year. I think it’s just because it recommends me movies that I probably never would have heard of and I generally want to see if the people nominated really do deserve what they are nominated for. But at the same time, some of the choices are so baffling to me that I don’t even know where they are coming from. Whether it be an actor or movie, it just leaves me scratching my head.
Let’s take a look at some specific examples: The 2010 Best Picture was given to “The King’s Speech.” Now there is nothing really wrong with this film and I enjoy it whenever I do watch it. But it plays it incredibly safe. If you look at the Academy’s history, they have a soft spot for biopics and will nominate it if it passes their standards. The whole thing to me feels like an HBO original movie that gets played every couple of months starring a few well-known actors. There wasn’t anything that made it like the epic films of the past. Frankly this movie should have swept the Emmys that year and not been an Oscar contender. I’m sure the only time people are going to actively seek out this film is to see every Best Picture winner. There were several films that year that definitely hold up and will stand the test of time. One of them being “The Social Network”, it is technically the same kind of movie as “The King’s Speech” but the events recapped in Social Network were pretty recent and defined a generation. With the always great direction of David Fincher(who really should have won for Best Director and not Tom Hooper) and the great score by Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor(who thankfully was honored) make this a great classic from 2010. Heck, “Inception” was nominated that year that would have been just as good. That movie definitely was one of the big blockbuster movies that Best Pictures used to honor.
Probably one of the recent instances that caused uproar in the news was when “Crash” beat out “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture of 2005. Seriously, that had to be huge miscarriage of justice. I really think the best picture of the year should have some kind of reflection of the current social issues during the time of its release. Sure there are still racial tensions in the world but it was released during 2005. If it were released in the ’50s or ’60s it would probably turn out much better. I just think the film could have worked out better if everything wasn’t solved in a nice package. You have a character like Sandra Bullock’s who is clearly a racist believes all of the stereotypes that exist. She is incredibly rude and berates her Hispanic housekeeper but at the end of the movie she is hugging her housekeeper because she took her to the hospital and calling her “my best friend.” It was just ridiculously unbelievable. If they’re going to make something a little more realistic they shouldn’t have made it a happy ending because who knew all racial tensions could be resolved so easily? “Brokeback Mountain,” on the other hand, was able to tell a love story between two men that really shook up Hollywood since there hadn’t been a movie like it before. It still is a hot button issue and definitely holds up because of the relevancy. But some believe homophobia is the reason why it didn’t win that year.
One instance during the ’50s was in 1952 when “The Greatest Show on Earth” won for Best Picture over “High Noon.” I can say that I was pretty bored while watching “The Greatest Show on Earth” and the critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes sums up my feelings of the film “The Greatest Show on Earth is melodramatic, short on plot, excessively lengthy and bogged down with clichés”. Legend Jimmy Stewart looks pretty ridiculous throughout the film in a clown costume. The only scene that I thought was impressive was the crash of two trains towards the end, which looked pretty spectacular. Many put this film among the worst films to win Best Picture and it really does show. On the other hand you have a film like “High Noon”, a western where a sheriff must save his cowardly town from outlaws single handedly. It offers a great performance from Gary Cooper and was the more deserving pick. This film was bogged down by serious controversy and deemed by many like John Wayne to be “un-American.” The film featured heavy symbolism about blacklisting and considering screenwriter Carl Foreman because he was being questioned because he was a former member of the Communist and refused to name names. This was all going on while Foreman was writing the screenplay to “High Noon”. It definitely was the better of the two.
There are many more winners that are up for debate(such as “Citizen Kane” and “Maltese Falcon” losing in the same year) but those are the ones that I wanted to focus on and I might do more if there seems to be people clamoring for it or if I feel like it. But yet the Academy still gets me every year and I will continue to watch even if it means pulling out my hair.