With just two weeks to go for the most anticipated movie event of the year, I couldn’t be more thrilled. The line-up of movies going up to the Oscars is excellent. You take out the last nine Best Picture winners in a single lot and this year’s nominations would still just win – that good. Not that the Best Picture winners are in fact the best pictures of those years, the argument still has a lot of weight. From Slumdog Millionaire to Moonlight, the last nine years have had moments in extremes. With 2015 clearly being the best of those years, the lows of 2009 and 2012 couldn’t possibly be explained.
I look at that last decade and I imagine what all did we really see coming (apart from Leo’s Oscar obviously). The decade saw a 25 year old Brit Eddie Redmayne surprise the world with his acting prowess and mumble on stage what was his Oscar winning speech to Meryl Streep *still* getting nominated every year. Not to remind you, she won in 2012 for The Iron Lady.
We also had Daniel Day-Lewis winning it twice (2008 and 2013) and become the first male to win 3 leading actor Oscars. Deservedly, he is also nominated this year.
But if there was really one man who actually did take us by surprise, it was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – the Mexican known to us through Babel and Amores Peros before his league defining works in Birdman and The Revenant. He won 4 Oscars in two years including two for Best Director.
Year after year I have waited an observation of mine to follow through. The three awards – Picture, Director, and Screenplay – always seem to have a connection and time and again the same movie dominates in the three departments. From The Godfather Part Two and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in the 70s to Silence of the Lambs and Forrest Gump in the 90s, movies tend to win at least two of the three. In recent years, No Country for Old Men won all three and so did Birdman.
Since 2006, only once (in 2012 – The King’s Speech) has the Best Movie winner not won an Oscar for its screenplay. Also except 2013 (Argo), every year the Best Picture winner has at least been nominated for the Best Director.
The last few years have also highlighted that the movies which release earlier in the year or are favourites for a long time, end up losing the main award. One could say that the Academy prefers the underdog. One could also say that it feels the need to revamp the Jim Carrey saga of ’99. Any and both ways, the highlighted result is surprising and exhausting. Boyhood, The Revenant, and La La Land were year-long favourites and ended up losing the main award to Birdman, Spotlight and Moonlight.
Now I don’t highlight these so-called ‘trends’ or the common attributes about the winners of the industry’s biggest event as a data analyst. I do it because I feel the reverse process is true. I feel the opposite line of facts is, in fact, true and that we have learned our way around the Oscars.
A fresh mind does though call for a thought as to why we differentiate between the best movie of the year and the more Academy-likable movie of the year? Where do we draw the line and in a more purer sense, why do we? Of course, our favourite movies differ with opinions. Some found Moonlight as the perfect coming of age film, some found it too far-fetched. But this difference in opinions and agreeing with the majority is why we have a system called ‘elections’ in place. With over 5000 Academy members voting, we are bound to get the best movie as the winner. Still, we most often than not are surprised.
And as like any other man-made concept which isn’t justifiable via our developed mean of logic and sense, we come up with a new concept to justify the flawed one. ‘Oscar likable movie’ or ‘Oscar type film’ is so common these days, it hurts my head to think how it was otherwise.
As a person who looks up to these awards for inspiration, for memories and for a look-and-smile sense of belonging, I would rather accept unjustified results year after year in hope of better next year than defend it through a flawed concept. Just because you couldn’t let an almost perfect Social Network win over the much unsound King’s Speech, doesn’t mean King’s Speech deserved to win because ‘it taught us more about history’ or ‘blah blah blah politics’.
In all fairness, I get the concept. I just think we change it every year to support what happens. I loved Spotlight and I would always care to prove why an alternate world would like Birdman over Boyhood, but I would never dictate a victory out for Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan or for Crash over Brokeback Mountain.
To every thing that Oscar speeches made me believe in,
To Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
To Michael Keaton
To Robert Duvall
– Mayank Malik