Every February, Hollywood’s biggest names get together to celebrate their films from the past year. Within the last 40 years, the politics that surround the Oscars have grown at an alarming rate. The show has created a ranking system of the categories, and true filmmaking talent usually takes a backseat to popularity. Some directors manage to break through the popularity contest, but the politics of the Best Picture winners and the nomination process continue to push Hollywood further away from creativity.
With a few exceptions, this year’s Oscars was no surprise. The nominated films continued the growing bias in favor of biopic and true-story inspired films. These formulamatic, Hollywood biopics have been old for decades now, yet Hollywood continues to reward uninspired filmmaking. The politics of this creatively safe films continuing to win filmmaking awards will never truly be known to anyone outside of the Academy circle, but films like “Bohemian Rhapsody” continue to be awarded. The Queen biopic won four awards last night, and the categories of which the film won raises many questions. The overall poor quality of the film aside, the Academy used the “lesser” awards to award the film despite the film’s obvious lack in the areas.
Despite the general disappointment from the awards this year, the unanimous frustration was this year’s Best Picture winner, “Green Book.” The film, which is a harmless story of a true friendship on its surface, shows the Academy’s ability to turn a harmless film into a dangerous film. The film itself is not inherently bad, but in the hands of the Best Picture category, the film represents a much deeper issue with the Oscars.
Best Picture winners are supposed to represent the best that Hollywood had to offer that year. Obviously, Hollywood films will never be able to shake off the politics of its production or award show run to allow for true creativity and filmmaking to be on display, but it’s Best Picture should be a representation of Hollywood as a whole. “Green Book” and nearly all of the other films nominated for Best Picture do not even come close to correctly representing Hollywood or the best films to be made in this country.
Although the Academy obviously grants more respect toward the awards later in the show, this is not always a bad thing. The voters of the Academy clearly don’t care about the awards other than the perceived “important” ones, and this allows for true talent to win awards on occasion. The biggest success of this year’s show is Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma.” Cuaron’s award for Best Director is Mexico’s third award in the past four years and now means that the top three Mexican directors, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón, have successfully completed the domination of Hollywood.
Each of these talented artists began their filmmaking in Mexico before making the jump over the Hollywood stage. For Iñárritu and del Toro, they unfortunately did not win their awards for their Spanish-language films, but Cuarón finally broke that barrier.
Overall, the Oscars were no surprise. The films that were nominated didn’t deserve to be there in the first place, so when “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” won awards, it was no shock. The Academy’s tiered perception of awards nearly subjected a few categories to commercial breaks, but also gave way to deserved awards in a few categories.
The Oscars never have and never will represent the best that American filmmaking has to offer, but a night to celebrate the medium is still entertaining. The true artistically inspired films never have the financial backing of Hollywood production, so the Academy will continue to overlook them.