Oscar season comes to an end tonight. Some anticipate watching to see which movie will win the best picture or which favorite actor or actress will win an award. Some look forward to watching the red carpet, all the fashion trends that will emerge. Whatever the reason, the night of the Oscars is a big night for the movie industry and millions of people tune in to watch.
I will not be one of those people.
It has been a long time since I watched the Oscars (I believe that the last time I watched was when Seth MacFarlane was the host). There are many reasons why I don’t watch the Oscars. It’s not only because of the lack of diversity in the nominations (I know that the Academy think that they have improved their selections by making it more racially diverse, but I really haven’t seen that much change). It’s not because of the lack of female representation in important leadership categories, such as best director. Nor is it because the Oscars are just too long (Why does the ceremony have to be close to three hours long? I’m already half asleep 45 minutes in the program).
I think the Oscars have stopped representing the realistic viewing habits of the public.
I may not go to the movies as often as I use to (you can blame both the high ticket prices and the quality of movies for that) but I started noticing a trend. The movies that get nominated are movies that are not widely watched by the public. I am not saying that the nominations should reflect the amount of money it makes at the box office. Basing nominations on the amount of money a movie makes will have too many repercussions. However, the Academy nominations should somehow reflect what the public is artsy and sophisticated. It will make the Oscars appear to represent an elite and exclusive club that only the chosen get to the be part of. The ceremony should be an enjoyable show for all. How can everyone enjoy it when they don’t see themselves reflected?
A lot of the nominations, I feel, weren’t accessible to the public. If you take a look at some of the release dates of the nominated movies, initially, they open “in select theatres”. Sure, if you really want to see the movie you will make the effort to go see it. When movies are shown in select theatres, accessibility is not easy for some members for the public. For example, I live in the New York, in the borough of the Bronx. The Bronx, which is a very large borough, only has a two movie theatres and they tend to have big budget, popular movies. So, if I want to watch one of these “select” movies, I have to go to Manhattan, where the ticket prices are twice as high, compared to the Bronx. Neighborhoods, like mine, are not given the chance to view the nominated movies. Who knows if this is deliberate, but due to the lack of accessibility, people are not going to the movies as often as they did in the past. Because of the success of streaming services, for example Netflix, people will just wait until appears on the service or they won’t bother to see it at all.
Theater companies also must accept some of the blame as well. Of course, theater corporations look for the movies that are going to bring in the big bucks and these selections are usually big budget movies. It is rare that the big budget movies will get nominated for the big name categories, like best picture, best director, or best actor/actress. All movies represent a work of art, no matter what the subject matter or the storyline in. Movie studios and theater corporations play a part in making these works of art reachable to the public. However, they need to do more. If it is money they are concerned about, the more people know about the Oscar nominated movies, the more people will make the effort to see them.
You may be asking “Well, what brought this on?” Black Panther, of course. The success of this movie is so momentous and historic that the popularity of Black Panther will be talked about for the rest of the year. It will be no surprise when this movie is showered with awards. An Academy Award will not be among them. Before, we whip out the #OscarsSoWhite tag, the reason has nothing with the unique diversity this movie portrays. Black Panther has something that will never go away which will prevent it from getting any accolades at the Oscars.
It is a Marvel movie.
Of all the attention, the positive reviews, and the money Black Panther get, it is still another superhero movie. And superhero movies just don’t win Oscars. Not even being a Disney subsidiary helps. Unless it is a superhero animated film, for example The Incredibles, it is still not going to win an award. They will get nominated for visual effects, sound, makeup or cinematography , but never for acting, writing, or directing. The Academy, I feel, thinks that superhero movies are not sophisticated enough, not worth their time. There may be too superhero movies, but that is what the public watches and that is what the public wants. The Oscars appeal to “serious” movies and to the generation that loves watching them. This generation enjoys seeing these movies at the Oscars and the Academy loves giving them the attention. But that generation is becoming non-existent. The Academy needs to appeal to the younger generations. My generation, the millennials, do watch the Oscars but not as much as the Baby Boomers. What will happen when children and teens become our age? You can celebrate that you are in your 90th year, but will it matter when younger generations won’t acknowledge your existence? The Academy continuously acts like they live in a bubble and only the lucky few who get to enter that world really matters. Let the bubble burst. The public doesn’t bite. We just want to see our viewing habits reflected in your choices.
I hope I am wrong. I hope Black Panther makes more historic landmarks next year by becoming the first-public loved movie to be nominated for an Oscar, other than for its visual effects or sound. The chances of that happening are very slim. Unfortunately, the Oscars are just unwillingly to change. The parties full of champagne and gifts become empty when the constant criticism of your elitist attitude causes viewership of the award show to decrease. The Oscars need to stay relevant. If they refuse to change, no progress will ever be made.
And then what will become of the precious Academy?