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As thousands of fellow bloggers and writers around the globe foam at the mouth about the poor decisions made by a body of (generally) old white males, I find myself lacking in any true outrage. When the nominations were announced January 15th, there was plenty of anger surrounding the lack of mention for The LEGO Movie and acting/directorial recognition for Selma. Certainly, the Oscars are pretty devoid of color and a female presence (outside of costume and makeup nomination), and have become [read: always been] a reflection of the film industry itself.
More embittered by the fact that Tilda Swinton and Ralph Feinnes were overlooked for supporting nominations, and that Force Majeure was neglected in the foreign film category, The Oscars went pretty much how I (everyone) expected – just ask NPH’s clear acrylic lock box. With all of the “brutally honest” Oscar ballots floating around the internet in the last two or three weeks, voting seems to be based heavily on emotion and a host of various random movie qualities. That being said, I think the massive hype surrounding Birdman has unwittingly influenced many of the categories in which it was lacking – namely the screenplay. While the cinematography was transcendent, and the performances were amazing, the script was not nearly as good as the whole. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel had a far superior screenplay, with Dan Gilroy’s fresh and perverse Nightcrawler providing – what should have been – tough competition.
While Redmayne’s performance as the slowly decaying Steven Hawking was spot on, The Academy has put too much weight on the physical mimicking of historical figures, and not enough on the creation of wholly-original characters. Four out of five nominations for Best Actor (only two in the Best Actress category) were granted to men playing biographical roles – a clear outcome of the Academy’s penchant for enjoying biopics, and a shift that has slowly been picking up steam in the last few years.
I cannot help but be very excited that The Grand Budapest Hotel won so many awards tonight, taking home the statue for Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Costume Design. While it is clear that Wes Anderson is a huge participant in each of these categories (each winner profusely thanked their “leader”), The Academy passed Anderson over in every category where he was directly named. For someone like Anderson, who has introduced a young generation to the magic of art-house filmmaking, to have never won an Oscar is truly a shame. Doubling his nomination count this year with three nods (Direction, Original Screenplay, and Picture), if The Grand Budapest Hotel couldn’t do it for Wes, I doubt anything can.
The Oscars are, without a doubt, a big, overblown night for Hollywood to pat themselves on the back for another year of hard work, and huge profits. They are a fun event, where everyone gets to dress up, and act a bit goofy, while impatiently waiting for their name to be called, or for the camera to linger on their face for a few fleeting seconds. The Oscars are fluff, and they are hardly something to get too terribly upset over. A giant group of people are bound to make a few mistakes, and the 87th Academy Awards have proven just that.