‘Oscar’out of touch
Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter
Sunday night’s 84th annual Academy Awards broadcast was relatively safe. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brought back fan-favorite Billy Crystal to host and peppered the show with interesting treats like parody songs, comedic presenters and a Cirque du Soleil performance. But the show still seemed too hefty for its own good. Last year, in an attempt to obtain a wider audience, popular stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway were selected to host the show, bringing in mixed results. Each year, the Academy tries harder and harder to reach out to an uninterested audience, usually with lackluster results because it is out of touch with the general populace.
The celebrations that are part of the Academy Awards are also accompanied by a certain level of snobbiness. The same types of films get nominated every year, and there isn’t much room for originality; especially when it comes to Best Picture nominations. The large majority of awards contenders are rarely heavily promoted, and even if they are, they aren’t given wide releases in theaters. The Academy also has a tendency to purposefully shun commercially successful films in categories where they would surely do well.
Not to say that “Twilight” and Tyler Perry movies deserve a seat anywhere near the Oscars, but other films like 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and 2011’s “The Help” and “Bridesmaids” are often denied well-deserved recognition at the ceremony. On Sunday, the French silent film “The Artist” and the golden-age film retrospective “Hugo” took home most of the awards, both good films in their own right that took home awards that could have been given to worthier candidates. For example, best original score could have gone to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” instead of “The Artist,” and best sound mixing could have gone to “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” instead of “Hugo.”
It isn’t a matter of the films being better; it’s about giving recognition where recognition is due. The truth is that no matter how good your film is, if the plot is more outlandish, there is less of a chance that you will be recognized at the Oscars. This is especially true in terms of comedy, seeing as only one comedy (1998’s “Shakespeare in Love”) has managed to win Best Picture in the past 30 years. For the past few months, there has been a major push to nominate surprise hit “Bridesmaids” for best picture. Producer Judd Apatow even went so far as to criticize the Academy’s preference for tears over laughter, but comedy still didn’t make the cut. It’s because the Kristen Wiig-penned comedy doesn’t fit in, and if you have to do anything at the Oscars, you have to fit in.
It’s a slippery slope because to ask the Academy to change this is to ask the members to be lenient. The more lenient they become, the more susceptible they become to fringe audiences who want every “Beastly” and “Tower Heist” to win best picture. The quality should still be there, but so should the variety. There are some good movies out there, and it seems that the Academy misses just as many of them as the rest of us.