Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscars Lowdown 2016

It's Oscars day people! This year, half of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award are based on true stories throughout history. So I'm going to write about them. Here's a list of the nominees. May the **best film win.

**BUT FIRST: The #OscarsSoWhite issue. I read a fantastic article over at Bitch Media, that is worth a read, so I'm going to include the article below. It's short, so don't stress the fuck out. Educate yo' self. And then you can help squash all the "people of color and women shouldn't be nominated for an Oscar solely because they are people of color or women, maybe they didn't deserve the nomination" bullshit.
The Oscars is one More Example of Hollywood's Discrimination
Yet again, we’re in the unfortunate situation of asking this depressing question: Why are there so few women and people of color nominated for Oscars? This is the second year in a row that every person nominated for an acting award is white. As Cara Buckley noted in the New York Times this morning, “The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.” There are no women nominated for Best Director, though it’s nice to see four female screenwriters get nods—two for co-writing credits on original screeplays Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton and two for sole writing credits on the adapted screenplays of Carol and Room.
Whether or not you actually endure the increasingly irrelevant hours-long ceremony, the Oscars is an important cultural force. The Oscars elevates the status of the films and people who are nominated and clearly illustrates the kinds of stories and narratives that Hollywood will celebrate and fund. 
So why are they overwhelmingly white and male-dominated? Let me list the reasons. 
1. Systemic race and gender-based job discrimination in Hollywood keeps women and people of color from working behind the scenes on many major film projects. Over and over and over, women and people of color working in the film industries tell stories of how they were overlooked or overtly blocked from jobs as directors, writers, and producers—especially on the types of bigger-budget projects that are awards-fodder. The habit of hiring men over women is so pervasive at all levels of the film industry that the ACLU is asking the state of California to investigate Hollywood’s gap as a flagrant example of workplace discrimination. 
2. When women and people of color do get a shot at writing and directing films, their productions are more likely to be smaller—like indie films and documentaries. As writer Courtney Sheehan explained in her piece about Oscar economics, “The size of production budgets frequently go hand-in-hand with the number of theaters to which distribution companies send a film. Since women tend to direct small-budget, independent fare, most moviegoers never get the opportunity to see many of the films made by women—even the ones that make a splash at Sundance.” This is shown in this year’s Oscar nominees: Films by and about women show up the most in the categories for Best Documentary and Best Documentary Short, where Amy and What Happened, Miss Simone? get nods.  
3. The people who vote on the Oscars are mostly older, white men. 2012 investigation by the LA Times found that the Academy was 77 percent male, 94 percent white, and has a median age of 62. Since then, the Academy has made some efforts to diversify, including accepting more people than usual into the exclusive group. But it doesn’t seem like the new members have significantly tipped the scales in terms of which films get nominated for awards. 
4. Because of the demographics of the Academy, films that center on the stories of women and people of color are often overlooked for awards. Writer Nijla Mu’min explains this well in her article about the Oscars leaving out films written by Black women, “It's not just that white male voters reject these stories—it's that these stories represent something that resists an expected film narrative, one that doesn't typically depict black women as fully formed characters with feelings, faults, and humanity, let alone as compelling protagonists.” Or, as Jermaine Roseman summed up on Twitter this morning, “Looking at history, the Academy loves to nominate films about race, but doesn't care about nominating films about black people.” 
Basically, the point I’m making here is that Oscars don’t recognize the best films of the year. Gender and racial discrimination within the film industry creates an unequal system, ensuring that many stunning films don’t get their due. And the Oscars, along with the rest of the film industry, need to work to fix this discrimination—or risk becoming irrelevant.
Anyways. Onward!

A look at the fictional contenders:
Mad Max: Fury Road: I loved this. 'Car' movies and post-apocalyptic movies aren't normally my thing, but Tom Hardy is. And dayum, I loved everything about this movie. 5/5 stars

The Martian: The movie was a little more campy compared to the book, which I read. Maybe 'dopey' is a better word? Nevertheless, a fantastic adaptation. 4/5 stars


Room: This movie was fiction, but was loosely based on the Fritzl case that surfaced in 2008. So great. 4/5 stars 

Brooklyn: Straight up Hallmark Channel movie. Or Lifetime. whatever. One of those shitty movie channels. But Molly Weasley was in it. And Bill Weasley. Annnd Professor Slughorn. 2/5 stars

A look at the historical contenders:
Image sources: Michael Curry Blog, Baleheads Blog, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Coming Soon


The Big Short: Based on the book of the same name, this movie is about the housing market collapse I think? The true story of the financial crisis of 2007-2010 I think? I have no idea what the actual fuck was happening. I couldn't tell who was good, who was bad. Who the winners were, who the losers were. I don't know if I should be insulted that the film had interludes where celebrities would dumb down the two hours of bank loan jargon for me or if it was intended to mock loan officers, who were accused of using made-up technical terms to sound fancy. I majored in storytelling, not monies. I don't know anything, is what I'm saying. But I do know, that I loved this line: "You have no idea the kind of crap people are pulling, and everyone's walking around like they're in a goddamn Enya video." golden. 3/5 stars

Image sources: Telegraph and Awards Watch


The Revenant: Inspired by fur trapper, Hugh Glass, the movie follows the 19th century frontiersman crawling through snow as he seeks revenge on his fellow fur traders after abandoning him. I had a very one-sided conversation about this movie in which I was accused of not "getting" it. I got it. I didn't like the flow. A damn good teaser trailer though. 3/5 stars

Image sources: Radio Times and Pop Sugar



Spotlight: The Boston Globe's team of investigative journalists, dubbed 'Spotlight', investigates the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal in Boston in the early 2000s. I mean, this was fine. With such a heavy subject matter of child abuse and corruption being carried out by one of the largest religious institutions in the world, I want full-on blubbering, shouting, raging, despairing, dramatics. This movie almost entirely lacked emotion. 3/5 stars

Image sources: Telegraph and Daily Mail



Bridge of Spies: Based on the 1960 U-2 spy plane incident during the Cold War, the movie is two hours of "we have your guy," "you have our guy," "cool, so let's trade." And then two guys walk across a bridge. I thought of this as a shitty Schindler's List. Boring. 1/5 stars

And my picks because I can:
I watched every single Best Picture, Best Actress/Actor, Best Supporting Actress/Actor movie. I sat through Creed. I SAT THROUGH CREED. Mediocre year in Oscar movies, I'd say. My favorite movies tend to be cult movies, so also, I don't know what I'm talking about.

Best Picture: None, because #OscarsSoWhite. And honestly, Mad Max was my favorite, but you know that shit ain't winning. Runner up: Room
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio. Runner up: Michael Fassbender
Best Actress: Brie Larson. Runner up: fuck all of em'. Charlotte Rampling was my second choice, but when you say things like “It is racist against whites. One can never really know, but sometimes maybe Black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” on the #OscarsSoWhite issue, nope.
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander. Runner up: Kate Winslet
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale. Runner up: Tom Hardy

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