Sunday, December 12, 2010

Biases of the Academy

I love trying to predict the Oscars and then eventually watching the ceremony to see who wins, but as big of a fan I am of the film industry's most storied awards ceremony, there are certain biases that tend to arise that the folks at the Academy have yet to ever truly rectify. If a movie is a member of the fantasy/science fiction genre, or its animated, or if it even stars character actors, the movie and the work behind it tends to get overlooked by the Academy. While these movies may get nominated, a win is nigh impossible, and this is where I'd like to see the Academy evolve.

There is a certain snobbery that the Academy tends to take to product that is different than the normal fare of live action real world drama or comedy. By their standards, it is much easier to award a movie about a military unit that disarms bombs than it is to award a one of a kind moviegoing experience that creates a whole new world and culture; and the excuse of these snobs is that The Hurt Locker is more narratively original than Avatar? Puh-lease! Saying Avatar is simply Dances With Wolves in space is an ignorant excuse to not give it any artistic credit. When you get right down to it, every story is reminiscent of some other story if you really wanna break it down, and it is because nearly every story derives from mythical or biblical allegories. As for ignoring the performances in said movies? It takes way more imagination from an actor to kill with the Avada Kedavra curse and make it believable than it does for a dude playing a serial killer in a gritty cop drama. Which takes me to my next point, why is the Academy so down on animation as well?

Only two animated films have ever been nominated for Best Picture, and while animation has its own category in Best Animated Feature, no animation director or voice actor has ever been nominated for Best Director or Actor. What is this snobbery the Academy has against animation directing and vocal performance? To be honest, it takes even five times more imagination than an actor in a fantasy movie to pull off a convincing voice performance. Think about it, usually all they have is the director's cues, and their bodies can't be seen to aid them in what they're thinking, so all of the emotion of their performance must come through their voice and not be too over-the-top or too subtle. It takes a lot of imaginative work from both the actors and directors. While the Academy could rectify things with a Best Director for an Animated Feature or Best Voice Performance for an Animated Feature, you can't tell me that it wouldn't be forward thinking of them to nominate someone like Hayao Miyazaki in Best Director alongside Spielberg, or Tom Hanks for his performance as Woody in Toy Story? But if there is one bias that the Academy has that makes even less sense than their biases to animation or the fantastical, it's being so good at your job that you get overlooked.

Let's be honest, most people we consider A-list "movie stars" aren't always the best actors, they're just the best looking, but they are the ones that are awarded year after year at the Oscars and not the character actors of the industry, the talent that is always consistent in the performance category. You know why Brad Pitt gets nominated, or Natalie Portman, is cause they're public movie stars who don't always deliver the goods, so when they do a performance that turns a few heads they get nominated, it doesn't matter if the work was groundbreaking or not, the Academy wants to award their "Movie Stars". Though, isn't it odd that Gary Oldman has never even been nominated for an Oscar? Or the same goes for Alan Rickman? Two actors that are always consistent, no matter what movie their in, or what sort of role they're playing, they knock it out of the park, and they are the kind of actors that are so good at their job that they are always overlooked, and here's why...

If Brad Pitt gives a good performance in the same year as Oldman, then the Academy will see the "movie star" and not the "actor". I'm not saying that Brad Pitt isn't a real actor who doesn't do good work, what I'm saying is that the Academy is never taken by surprise if the likes of Oldman or Rickman deliver a powerhouse performance, because it is expected of them, even if it's better work than the "movie star" simply cause the stigma of the "movie star" deters opinion. As it is, I don't see anything changing anytime soon, but I can vent, can' t I?

No comments:

Post a Comment