Come on Academy, time to change? Thoughts about this year’s awards

I watched the Oscars feeling very ill. I didn’t really watch through choice, but thanks to a miserable cold, I couldn’t sleep!

The ceremony was a bit of an ordeal, and I think I might have hallucinated that there was a bear in the audience?

DiCaprio winning because it was his turn.

Leo finally won an Oscar! He deserved it for transforming himself and shivering a lot. (I’m shivering right now! Gimme an award!!) And even more importantly, it was his turn!

People were really rooting for Leo. Maybe in three years (around the time Leo’s yacht party finally ends) his triumph could be viewed as less convincing – a “career Oscar”.

There are a lot of people adamant that he should have really won for Gilbert Grape back in ’93 over veteran character actor Tommy Lee Jones (it was his turn) for The Fugitive. They’re forgetting that people at the time felt it should have gone to Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List.

Now 2015 was a weak year for the Best Actor race. Michael Fassbender was an early front runner, but Jobs flopped financially. And Leo’s campaign just gained momentum – he really did the PR and worked the events.

However, don’t forget Creed’s Michael B. Jordan and Beasts of No Nation’s Abraham Attah both being passed over – in the year when anger over all-white slates of nominees came to a head:

The so-called category fraud

Category fraud is an established campaign tactic.  Alicia Vikander’s leading role got lumped in the supporting category because she didn’t stand a chance in the stacked Best Actress race.

The Academy loves its starring performances big and bold, meaning understated portrayals can be overlooked.

And Vikander’s win wasn’t really just for The Danish Girl. A lot of critics/awards bodies preferred her in Ex Machina and even The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Vikander’s become a critical darling over the last year, and the industry wanted to hand her recognition for her successful breakthrough.

The Oscars have always skewed towards younger actresses and older actors. Maybe they should have age categories, or an Oscar for best breakthrough, or rising star, like the BAFTAs.

The Oscars didn’t get Carol.

Each year, The Hollywood Reporter speaks to different members from some of the Academy’s disciplines. On the condition of anonymity, they reveal their brutally honest take on the year’s nominees.

This year, one of the acting branch members had something to say about Mara’s role in Carol: “That part needed an Audrey Hepburn, an enchanting, alive, beautiful young woman, instead of this depressed person whom I never believed Cate Blanchett would have fallen in love with.”

It’s not about a couple of hotties getting it on! Therese is meant to be withdrawn and numb, before growing into a poised woman like Carol. Mara nailed it, and she was won best actress at Cannes. (She was in the supporting category at the Oscars.)

Vanity Fair did a great piece on why Carol is not the Academy’s type of film.

The public thinks awards voters are omnipotent

“Well, that actress has been nominated for two Oscars,” they’ll harrumph. “I think the Academy knows more about acting than you!”

Ah yes – the mysterious, all-knowing and infallible Academy. One copy of Oscar Machinations for Dummies coming up. Alternatively, this is a pretty good article about membership in the Academy.

Change has been promised, although how it will play out is uncertain. At the moment, white, male (76 per cent), and old (the average age is 63) seems to be the order of the day. I mean, you’d never have guessed by their voting choices right?

There were a few best actor/actress picks this year (like most years) that likely only got in because those actors’ names (or their directors) easily become part of the awards conversation.

Matt Damon was merely amicable in The Martian, while The Danish Girl was not Eddie Redmayne’s best work. On this entire planet, with all its great storytellers, the voters couldn’t find some fresh faces to honour? I follow bloggers that have more imagination and passion when it comes to film.

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