The Oscars, or Academy Awards if you want to call it that, have always been a somewhat big part of my life. This is probably the part where you think I’m gonna say I have some connection to the Oscars or the Academy through a family member or something. As much as I’d like to say that anyone in my family is involved in the film business, I would be lying. The connection that I have with it is purely just an event in a TV room with a bunch of people who enjoy watching movies. Ever since I can remember, my family has always just watched the Oscars. I think in everyone’s minds it was always just a fun thing to do, an event. There’s always been a sort of soft spot for the show in my mind, I’ve always thought of it almost as this holy thing. Holy in the way that you idolized any certain thing that entertained you, or caught your attention. For me, as a kid, that was an assortment of different things, this being one of them.
It’s only been till recently that I realized these award shows don’t mean much of anything. Sure you’re proud and pride comes along with a win, but like any show involving an award, at the end of the day all you have is a trophy. Over the years there’s been talk about the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t won a damn Oscar yet! It’s hilarious how angry someone can get over losing. I’m not denying the fact that I too have yelled at the TV when someone lost. It’s all in the buildup, when they finally get to the announcement for the best picture win in the show every year my heart starts beating incessantly and I feel like a crazy person.
I’m really intrigued to see what’s going to happen this year. Chris Rock is hosting, whom I have no doubt will be better than the year before’s host (I’m sorry NPH, but no, just no). Lately I’ve been going back to previous Academy Awards shows and comparing the films and the wins to the nominations of this year and what it will be like. I’ve been mostly looking at the previous year, Oscars 2015, and I want to talk about them for a second, so take a seat and let’s discuss.
For me, 2014 was just an odd year for movies in general, so when it came to the nominations for all the shows in the awards season I really didn’t know what was gonna be thrown in there. Looking over the best picture nominees I really could only pick out 1 or 2 that I REALLY remembered and they were Birdman and Boyhood (which is good for Birdman I guess, since it won). Everything else (Theory of Everything, Whiplash, American Sniper, etc.), is either a blurry vague memory or just nothing. I remember thinking that year that all the films felt so small, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt strange for the Academy Awards. In the past, for the most part, the best picture nominees have felt so much bigger and memorable. Luckily, 2015 had a bigger platter of options for films, and I’m actually excited and intrigued to see who is going to win.
With that being said, there’s still a major problem with the Academy that they’ve had since the beginning and that’s diversity. There’s a reason the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” has been floating around Twitter and such, because it’s true. People can argue this all they want and go against the fact (for some reason), but you can’t deny that the Oscars are predominately white. Race has always been an issue for the Academy, I mean the show was formed by a bunch of old white guys in the 20s, need I say anything else? But even that doesn’t excuse the fact that they’ve had PLENTY of time (this year is the 88th show, they’ve had time!!!), and there have been plenty of roles for men and women of color.
When the 2014 Oscars came around there seemed to be a change of heart (if you want to call it that). 2013 was a year with movies like 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club (the two that probably won the most collectively), so there seemed to be at least something different and interesting. With winners that year like Lupita N’yongo, it felt like we were actually getting somewhere with diversity in this show. But for some reason that didn’t stick and now we’re right back where we started. Race is clearly not just an issue with the Oscars but also with Hollywood in general.
Over time roles are slowly (very slowly), getting more diverse, not just with the color of someone’s skin but also with gender, and hopefully in 2016 and years to come more films will be released that have a complex cast and interesting stories to tell. Because film is such an interesting form of art and there is so much that can be done (and has been done) with the platform and I think if we have more than just the norm then things can really change.