Anytime your casual moviegoer browses through the release schedule of films through the year they are bound to notice two things: summertime is full of big blockbusters/sequels/comic book films & the winter months are full of the films that most people refer to as “Oscar bait.” You know, the types of films that you know right away based on their premise they are likely to appear in the running of nominations each year for the Academy Awards.
Generally, those films that arrive in the November-December range are the ones that are in consideration for the big category Oscars (Best film, director, actor, actress, etc), held back by studios for this time period so that they catch the most notice by the Academy during voting time. It’s a move that makes sense, they’ll be the most recent films in mind for the Academy and the public at large.
This year the awards have been named once more and outside of a few deviations, Get Out from February of 2017 and Dunkirk from July 2017, the trend continued that the films from late in the year are the ones considered.
The Internet was alight with articles and comments calling out the perceived ‘snubbing’ of films like Wonder Woman and only giving films like Logan an adapted screenplay. Blockbusters and bigger fare films, that make huge box office numbers but also helped shape the culture and show a change happening in movie making, didn’t make the cut.
The sad part is, this is nothing new.
For the 2009/2010 awards, The Academy bumped up the Best Film category to 10 films with the claim that it would allow for a wider swath of films to be selected including the bigger films most audiences were seeing & maybe bump up ratings. A move after a film like The Dark Knight being left off because of the slim category and the bias.
At first it seemed to work as films like Avatar, Up and District 9 got to join the usual Oscar contenders. Then it seemed to stop working as instead of bringing in more of the varied fare the increase in slots just allowed in more of the usual fare to be recognized and shifted in 2011 to be somewhere between 5 and 10 films, mostly sitting at 8 or 9 generally leaving an empty slot that no other films were deemed worth to fill.
There is nothing wrong with the awards focused films of the end of the year, many of them are extraordinary while others are at least a fun time. The issue most times is that those films are not what light up the box office or the chains of communication.
Social media wasn’t abuzz about The Post or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or I, Tonya the same way they were for Logan, Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi or others. Films like Get Out and The Shape of Water or even Ladybird did get a lot of high buzz and were up there in critical/fan scores on sites like Rotten Tomatoes with many of the highly rated summer popcorn fare.
The honest fact of it is that The Academy, even with all the member changes and other changes since the controversies of Oscars So White, is still a very elitist organization that wants to award the films they see as art. Too many times the films that are not marketed as Oscar type films are not going to get their attention outside of awards for makeup, special effects, scores, etc.
That’s not to say that all blockbusters should be put up for Oscars. There are a lot of films that do not hit on all levels that should not just pity be put into awards. Yet, it’s a glaring issue when the awards do not even come close to matching the films that people are actually consuming.
Outside of some films like Get Out, the nominated films, for the most part, will not have box offices even close to what Wonder Woman or Logan or others brought in. In fact, many times these Oscar-nominated films do very poorly at the box office when they first arrive in limited release only to make more once they wide release or re-release them at the time that nominations come out. People want to rush out to see the films that are nominated, which makes sense.
Get Out got conversations started, as did many of those other films that were nominated, but that moment where Diana strolled out of the trench into No-Man’s Land? Come on, that moment was so powerful and transcended most superhero or blockbuster moments that have been on film over the years.
War For the Planet of the Apes had people, myself included, close to or actually in tears at the end. Tears for a motion capture ape, because Andy Serkis’ performance was just that damn powerful. That’s not even taking into account all the blockbuster type or superhero films of the past that should have been at least considered because of their vast appeal or just being extraordinary films.
I’m not asking for The Academy to add in all the blockbusters or even stop putting in the late year films that fit their Oscar mold. What I’m asking is for them to stop having a clear bias against the films that the average moviegoer actually pays to see.
Look at those films and truly see beyond them being summertime fare and if there is a true gem that sets the world ablaze or has moments as powerful or profound as those Oscar type films later in the year, recognize those for what they are and actually consider them for the bigger award categories.
Seeing the same names floated around the bigger awards time and time again can be quite tiresome, and while I’m not saying to compromise things for this reason if you are more open with films and not so elitist and biased those young viewers that are so turned off by the awards might actually tune in.
I know I’d tune in more if the awards were not just a biased elitist seeming affair.
The ball’s in your court Academy.