Last night, millions of viewers tuned in to the Oscars to see some of Hollywood's most talented performers take the stage. Drama surrounded the award ceremony in all directions including the #TimesUp movement, #OscarsSoWhite, and even the recent allegations against Ryan Seacrest. Many, including me, were wondering how the academy was going to approach this year's ceremony and how these topics could affect the voting process. While I thought the ceremony was better than last year's awards, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this ceremony more inclusive both for the filmmakers and the audience members who go to the movies. Here are my thoughts after witnessing last night's Oscars:
Lady Bird Gets Shutout At The Oscars
One of my favorite moments of the night came when The Shape of Water was awarded Best Picture. I jumped out of my seat in celebration not for the film that won but more for the film that failed completely at the Oscars. Lady Bird was a film that was surrounded by a ton of hype when the film held the highest Rotten Tomatoes score during its release. The hype only built more after the film began to win awards at the smaller award ceremonies including Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. The discussion then switched to Greta Gerwig possibly being a favorite to land the Best Director award this year as well as Lady Bird being a dark horse for Best Picture. All of this hype and praise made me question if I watched the same film as these critics. I saw nothing incredibly special with this film besides the fact that Lady Bird was female lead and female directed. While I support more female-centric films made by female directors, we should support that these films be held at the same standard as other films within their categories. A film should not get a handicap boost because it has women or minorities involved. A film should be judged by what the film is as a whole and Lady Bird did not hold a candle to many films in the Best Picture category.
The Oscars Are Still Very White
When I was figuring out which picture I wanted to headline this article with, I found a photo featuring all of the winner in the acting category. That photo seemed to be a nice metaphor for what I wanted to discuss. While the Oscars did make progress in nominating and awarding more people of color at this year's award ceremony, the fact remains that a lot of white people still won including a complete absence of people of color winning in the acting categories. Of the twenty actors nominated in an acting category, only four were people of color. Two categories (Best Supporting Actor and Lead Actress) saw ballots completely filled with white actors. Countless of other categories saw a lack of diversity. While the Oscars are making progress, there is still a long way to go. If only the rest of the show made as much progress as the Best Director category which has seen a minority win the award in five of the last six years.
The 90th Oscars Received The Lowest Ratings Ever
Following the trend of many television programs, the 90th Academy Awards saw a drop in their ratings. The only problem is that it wasn't just a drop, it was a plunge. The Oscars saw 6.5 million less viewers than last year broadcast which lead to the lowest ratings in the history of the broadcast. While ratings drops can correlate to more viewers cutting the cord, I believe last night's awards were hurt more in part because the common moviegoer didn't know any of the films in last night's show. There was nothing for the regular audience member to connect with outside of maybe Dunkirk. Almost every film nominated for the Oscars this year were not box office successes with many losing money. Of all of the films nominated for Best Picture, only two crossed the $100 million mark (Dunkirk and Get Out). To put things in perspective, Black Panther in less than a month has made $200 million more than the total gross of every film in the Best Picture category. If nobody saw these Best Picture films, then why would they care if they win or not?
Get Out And The Voter Bias
According to an i09 report, some of Get Out's failed success last night could have been hindered by the fact that many Academy voters were disregarding the film without even watching it. In the article, one of the new voters in the academy's initiative to inject a younger and more diverse voice mentioned the following:
“I had multiple conversations with longtime Academy members who were like, ‘that was not an Oscar film,’ and I’m like, ‘that’s bullshit. Watch it.’ Honestly, a few of them had not even seen it and they were saying it, so dispelling that kind of thing has been super important.”
While this news is very hard to hear, the sad thing is that this has been the academy's thinking to a lot of properties in recent years. In 2008, The Dark Knight was the hottest film going into that year's award show and to a lot of dismay, the film was not nominated for Best Picture The film received eight academy award nominations but failed to receive a nomination for Best Picture or Best Director. While Heath Ledger did win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, many believe that his victory was a political move to celebrate his career in the wake of his passing. The outrage for The Dark Knight's snub also lead the academy to change their rules and allow ten films to be nominated for Best Picture instead of the traditional five.
The situation with what's going on between Get Out and the older generation of voters is even worse than what happened to The Dark Knight and other genre films from the past. This story showcases the pretentiousness of this group and their bias towards certain types of films in full force. Maybe if their bias towards a revolutionary film like Get Out is given more attention, we could inject more discussion about rule changes and allow more new voters to join and progress the medium forward.
The Shape Of Water Won But Will It Be Remembered?
The Shape of Water was an entertaining film but will this film stand the test of time. Many films have won Best Picture in the past but while many have taken the award, that moment fades fast and the film falls into the abyss of Hollywood obscurity. Do you remember who won Best Picture in 2011? The film was The King's Speech, a film that won three of the big six awards. Yet nobody sits there and remembers The King's Speech. What moviegoers do remember if going to the theater and watching Inception, Black Swan, The Social Network, and Toy Story 3. How about 1978 when Annie Hall beat out Star Wars? Will we remember The Shape of Water five or ten years from now or will we remember the 90th Academy awards as the year that weird fish film beat Get Out? Only time will give us that answer.