For many of us this Sunday marks an annual tradition. We pour our beverage of choice, pick our favorite snack, prop our feet up, and settle in for the Academy Awards.
The Oscars mark the end of a lengthy awards season that clutches Hollywood every year from late fall to early spring. Industry insiders spend all their extra time and money promoting their films and the stars of those films while dreaming of glory and golden statuettes. It’s as much political as it is spectacle. And I love it! In a year so full of political controversy, what’s one more thing to fight about?
People argue over their favorite films saying things like, “That movie is overrated” or “Why didn’t my favorite get nominated for anything?” I would like to respond to my former hypothetical and provide an answer to my latter question. You think a film like La La Land is overrated? Or Moonlight? Why? For most the only answer to this would be the simple fact that they are frontrunners to take home best picture this year. Perhaps you just simply didn’t like them. And that’s okay. However, to say they aren’t “good” films is simply inaccurate.
You can personally not enjoy a film while simultaneously admiring the aesthetic and various techniques used to create said film. I did not like sitting through the three-hour film Silence due to personal grievances with the subject matter. But when I scored this film on my Talking Movies podcast, I gave it an A- because I recognized the care and expertise given to every frame of that movie. When wondering why your favorite film didn’t get selected remember this: only the 6,687 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences vote for the winners. They bring their own baggage to every section of the ballot and until you become a member you’ll never have a say in it.
So just enjoy the night and all of the films for what they are. I can promise you there isn’t a bad egg among them. Don’t get me wrong, I love blockbuster action films as much as any one of the millions of people who helped Disney break box office records last year. But this night isn’t for those films (though they do get nominated for special effects and various sound awards and most of the big ones usually win there). This fateful Sunday belongs to the films that boast the entire package. This includes marvelous achievements in Cinematography, Acting, Directing, Writing, Production Design, the list goes on.
La La Land, though not my personal favorite, is a masterpiece of modern filmmaking. To deny that is to simply not understand the beauty of filmmaking itself. It will be this generation’s “Singing in the Rain” or “An American in Paris.” Moonlight is a triumph of powerful storytelling on an impossibly low budget. It tells an uncommon story with grace and delicacy in a way that few films do. Fences boasts the best performances the industry has to offer and serves as a master class in the art of acting. Arrival is the smartest, arguably, most intriguing science fiction film to be released in years. Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge, and Lion are literally history in the making. Manchester By The Sea packs the biggest emotional punch you can get out of a film while beautifully embodying the aforementioned “entire package.”
And finally, my personal favorite, Hell or High Water, is the kind of film young filmmakers aspire to achieve. You can say you don’t like any of these films, but you definitely cannot deny the tremendous works of art they have all become. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the making of these films this Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. on ABC.
Kyle Reed is a local film expert and has his own local podcast, “Welcome to the Table.”