The 84th Academy Awards have come and gone: let the bitching begin! As someone who is more of a genre fan than anything, I’ve never really cared too much about the Oscars, but that sure as hell doesn’t prevent me from complaining about them. Granted, over the years, some great films have won. I’m a big fan of Unforgiven and I dug Shakespeare In Love. I just think far too many good films are ignored in favor of “Oscar movies.”
I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with any of the films nominated this year, but there were a few categories were I feel like the little golden man statue when to the wrong film. Luckily, the internet exists and I can complain about it!
First off, if I don’t bring it up below, it either means I agree or I don’t care.
While I’m not a fan of any of these movies for Best Picture, I’d give it to The Descendants over The Artist, but don’t feel too strongly.
A cute film with a neat premise doesn’t have much to do with acting. Here, Gary Oldman should have won for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or, if not him, then Demian Bichir – A Better Life.
Best Original Screenplay
Anything other than Midnight in Paris. I can’t believe this wins. This was a weakly-written film that was far too on the nose. There is nothing clever here, other than the idea, which I felt wasn’t even executed well. Accessible and average, across the board. Throw it to Margin Call.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
This is actually a tough one and I thought it was a good three way race between Hugo (which won), War Horse, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Personally I was leaning towards War Horse, but I just wanted you guys to think about how pretty these films were to look at.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Really? The Artist was one of the weaker ones here. Costume Design almost always goes to old period films, which I think is unfair to modern films, but this one should have gone to Anonymous as the obvious choice or to Jayne Eyre which I think were spot on in terms of color and tone regarding realism, which meant they weren’t showy and thus maybe that was held against them.
Best Achievement in Make-Up + This is What’s Wrong With the Oscars Part 1
The make-up in Iron Lady was great, it was realistic, bravo. But really, so what? Aging Meryl Streep under 20 years isn’t that impressive. I’d rather see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 get the nod here because not only is there a TON of make-up work going on, it’s not just age make-up.
Now, age make-up is notoriously difficult, but the Potter film deals with that to some extent. But beyond that, what you have to realize this is the Best Achievement in make-up and I think creating two dozen little goblin folk and a whole bunch of nasty looking people, all of whom are in layers of make-up, is a great achievement then doing a pretty realistic job on one person.
This is what’s wrong with the Oscars – they are hesitant to reward commercial films. They are hesitant to reward films outside of the dramatic arena. Why aren’t more horror and science fiction movies included in Make-Up? Anything applied to an actor is basically considered make-up. Plenty of actresses get fake noses or other prosthetics, so really what is the difference between a nose and a werewolf face?
Achievement in Sound Editing
Hugo wins here, which is stupid. Drive was nominated because it was loud and realistic, but I don’t think that overcomes Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which created an amazing and realistic immersive experience that was well thought out. Say what you will about the movie or Bay, but the film is cutting edge and sounded amazing.
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Again, Hugo doesn’t hold a candle to Transformers. The action film is ignored because it’s perceived as being big, loud, and stupid, when it is actually big, loud, and technically crafted amazingly in several departments. Hate the film, you can’t ignore the layers of sound work here.
Achievement in Visual Effects + This is What’s Wrong with the Oscars Part 2
The childish Hugo again wins, inexplicably. I don’t think Deathly Hallows had the consistency in its effects work to win here. Many were cheering Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I don’t think that wins here either – what was the achievement? More facial mocap? Big whoop. The technology being utilized here is Lord of the Rings stuff plus the hair texturing of King Kong. It’s not groundbreaking. I liked Real Steel, which had some pretty great effects, but the king of the pile here is Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
This is again what’s wrong with the Oscar’s. They don’t want to give Transformers an Academy Award, despite the fact that it is utterly amazing visually. Michael Bay has a bad reputation in some professional circles and a lot of people consider him to be a bad director – so what? This isn’t about good people and this category actually isn’t about “good” movies. Transformers is at least competent in every department, but when it comes to visual effects, this film is retardedly amazing. The robots move more realistically than the apes in Rise, and they seamlessly interact with the physical environment. The effects are blended perfectly.
Further, the film breaks ground in processing power and what’s possible on the screen. Each of the Transformers is made up of hundreds, if not tens of thousands, of pieces that are animated. There was a time when just putting one of those guys on screen was impossible, yet now a battle can rage with dozens of Transformers fighting dozens of flying vehicles while buildings collapse in the background. This just isn’t about the robots, it’s about the entire digital landscape collapsing around them. Dark of the Moon was fucking robbed.
What’s Wrong With the Oscars Part 3
Ho ho ho, man, this is already too long to delve into what’s really wrong with the Academy Awards; we’ll save that for next year, but I do want to throw out a few thoughts.
Filmmaking has changed a lot throughout the years. We can tell stories today that were never possible before though the evolving technology. Scripts, directors, and actors will always be important and the prime movers of films, but the world around them, the tools available to them, have become such a huge part of the movies that we must recognize them and the stories they create.
This means the Academy must recognize films outside of the typical dramatic films they currently reward. Movies like Alien, and The Thing should be recognized as best pictures, not just for effects or the occasional technical award. Monsters should be welcomed and celebrated. Alien should have been a Best Picture nominee, not just best effects (which it rightly won). I would love to live in a world where a film like Halloween or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly are films that have a shot at best picture. Nothing about being entertaining, or scary, or exploitative to some degree says that a movie can’t be fantastic and deserving of praise.
Films like Transformers shouldn’t be shunned even if they do target the lowest common denominator. Great films are great films. Great effects are great effects. Realize what the award is truly for and give it out accordingly.
Create new award categories too! Make-Up can be for realistic human make-up and you can create a Fantasy Vision award or something. So many films these days have out-of-this world elements that should be rewarded. In this day and age, the game of stunts has gone from daring men doing dangerous things to an elaborate technical achievement (that still features daring men doing dangerous things).
If you want to spice up the Academy Awards, break the image of it being just about dramatic films. Throw in some places for a monster movie to take home an award. Nominate a scary ass picture for something. Bring in more science fiction. Add a stunt team category. The Academy Awards should be about celebrating everything in movies, not just one facet of the film world that is rapidly shrinking.
From wrong winners to ignored films and missing categories, I can’t remember a year the Academy Awards didn’t send me past my boiling point.