The Oscars are ‘starting to feel a little off-key’

Academy Awards 2011
Michelle Corbett

Post-Oscars night over in la-la land and the air is still ringing with the plummy tones of triumphant Brits abroad after ”˜The King’s Speech’ continued its winning streak – scooping prizes for ”˜Best Picture’; ”˜Best Director’, Tom Hooper; ”˜Best Actor’, Colin Firth and ”˜Original Screenplay’, David Seidler.

Like a beloved yet slightly irritating pet Corgi, this pedigree movie has nipped relentlessly at the heels of the competition throughout award season – nabbing every top gong for its tug-at-the-heartstrings depiction of King George VI and his chronic stammer.

Not surprising really. Daniel Day Lewis’ left footed scribbles; Dustin Hoffman’s autistic gambling; Tom Hanks and his ”˜box of chocolates’ intellect”¦ Lord knows the Academy loves a good old-fashioned ”˜triumph over adversity’ tale – either that or a trip to the Wild West. Pity then that ”˜True Grit’ failed to triumph – rendering the Coen Brothers uncharacteristically empty-handed.

Over on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s latest status reads: “OMG! Only ”˜Best Adapted Screenplay’, Aaron Sorkin; ”˜Best Score’, Trent Breznor and Atticus Ross; and ”˜Best Editing’ for ”˜The Social Network’ – LOL!” The outside bet failed to come up with the goods for ”˜Best Picture’, ”˜Best Actor’ or ”˜Best Director’.

Lucky then that feather-weight contenders Christian Bale and Melissa Leo provided at least two upsets on the night – lifting the ”˜Best Supporting Actor’ and ”˜Best Supporting Actress’ belts for ”˜The Fighter’; leaving Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter to nurse bloodied noses.

Like Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest ”˜Black Swan’ Natalie Portman fulfilled the bookies’ predictions – picking up the ”˜Actress in the Leading Role’ award for her darkly brilliant transformation into a feathered Swan Queen.

And just like that particularly ludicrous display of political point-scoring, the Oscars are starting to feel a little off-key. As doubtlessly brilliant as they are, should the likes of uber-successful Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle or Ethan and Joel Coen continuously be shortlisted by the Academy? Does Colin Firth really need another gold-plated door-stop?

Given his miniscule stature, ”˜Oscar’ certainly casts a long shadow when it comes to influencing our decisions at the box office. Couldn’t the Academy put their collective might behind relative unknowns more frequently ”“ giving them a much-needed publicity boost? I’m not suggesting we ignore obvious brilliance, but I’d like to see nominees such as 14-year-old Hailee Steinfield as the norm and not the exception.

And while we’re on the subject, whatever happened to applauding creativity? Because let’s face it if as a film-maker you don’t pander to the Academy’s fetish for biopics, warfare or anything vaguely English you’re pretty much screwed; unless of course your costume, sound, cinematography, and CGI deserves a token gesture (yes, I mean you ”˜Alice In Wonderland’ and ”˜Inception’).
In a year where one in five Hollywood films will be a sequel and the movie industry set a new record for follow-ups, it’s disappointing that the 2011 Academy Awards went to such a small pocket of fully paid-up members of the established Hollywood elite.

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3 comments on “The Oscars are ‘starting to feel a little off-key’”

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  1. The Oscars are not “starting” to feel a bit off-key, they always were.
    If you`re looking for smaller productions, young talents & future hopes, you’d rather want to follow the European film-festivals like the Berlinale in Berlin or Biennale in Venice. Or one of the very many -more or less- genre-specific independent festivals throughout the world (including the US). The Academy usually sticks to what it does best: Celebrating its own grandeur. I am not denying that some of the nominated/winning films, actors, scores… are indeed brilliant, I’m just questioning the Academy\’s ability (and willingness)to really look outside the box. Certain trends can be observed, special likings may vary from one year to the other (and yes, a british touch certainly helps for the time being), but a real change to Hollywood\’s self-centred view of the film world? The Academy fostering low-budget productions and applauding really innovative films? I wouldn\’t wait for it…

  2. The Academy is what it is, a monument to the mainstream. It only manages to be interesting when the gongs go to atrocious movies like Forrest Gump, Braveheart or Gandhi. I’d love to see a foreign film to win best picture but I’m not holding my breath.

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