Monday, February 29, 2016

The Oscars 2015: #OscarsSoWhite Edition

It's so white it's transparent!

As always, the Oscars have come and gone. In what was surely one of the most predictable, enjoyable, and yet bizarre Oscars I've seen in a while. I'm not mad at any of the awards given out, but it's been a long and strange road to the Oscars this year with a lot of weird twists and turns, controversies, underdog stories, and expected wins. It certainly was interesting to watch to say the least, but there is a metric ton of things to unpack with this Oscars starting with...

In what was arguably more talked about than the Oscars themselves was the talk of lack of diversity at this year's Oscars. In all 20 nominations for acting, not one of them was given to a black actor, despite Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, and Straight Outtta Compton deserving nominations. Instead, nominees went to movies that no one has ever heard of, and I mean more than usual. Not only was Trumbo a completely unknown movie, but if it wasn't for Bryan Cranston, then it most certainly would have never been nominated. There was a lot of heat against the Academy this year and their reaction to it was... mixed to say the least.

Chris Rock spent the entire evening making fun of the lack of diversity with some really funny jokes like saying "And we're black" when they came back from commercials, but there wasn't really any discussion actually going on. It was more or less addressing the controversy, poking a lot of fun at it, and then just kind of proceeding with the night. And in all honesty, what did you think was going to happen? That they were going to kick one of the nominees out and give it to a black actor then? That would be ludicrous, Instead, it took Kevin Hart to make a very serious speech about the need to try and create not only more opportunities for black actors in Hollywood, but to keep acting because the problems of today will eventually be the problems of yesterday. It was a great speech, but even then it didn't address the root of the problem.

Let's be perfectly honest here. The Oscars are not racist. The Academy is not racist, despite what many people seem to believe. The reason why most of those performances were not nominated boils down to a couple of reasons. First, Beasts of No Nation, the film that Idris Elba performed in, was originally a Netflix original movie, and the longer Hollywood can stave off the rise of direct digital releases, the better. As for Creed and Straight Outta Compton, while there's no denying that Creed was upsetting, Straight Outta Compton was honestly a long shot to begin with for acting. Best Picture? Probably had a better shot getting that than an acting nom. Typically ensemble cast movies don't get too many noms, like The Big Short and Spotlight, who only got supporting actor nominations.

No, the real problem here lies in Hollywood and the studio system. At the end of the day, the Oscars can only judge movies that were released that year. They're limited by what Hollywood puts out and what they release to the general public. Generally speaking, most of Hollywood tell stories about white people and not so much about black people. The reason why Straight Outta Compton was wildly talked about was because how much it broke the stereotypical Hollywood mold. It had only one major white actor in it, and it was a supporting one at that. It was a story about black people in black culture, which hasn't happened in a major Hollywood production since arguably 12 Years a Slave. Bottom line, Hollywood itself needs to spread out and make a greater claim to diversity and not have the Academy held responsible (although Michel B. Jordan should have at least been nominated. We didn't need another nom for Eddie freaking Redmayne.)

My God, it actually happened! Leo finally won an Oscar! Cue the confetti and the "Ave Maria"!

If we're being honest with ourselves, Leo winning this year is not that big of a surprise. It would have been a stretch for anyone else to win besides him, and his performance in The Revenant was the most Oscar worthy (he ate raw bison liver!) Though I'm glad he finally got his Oscar, it does make me kind of sad that he won it for Revenant. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adored The Revevant, but compared to his performances in Wold of Wall Street, The Aviator, Shutter Island, and Inception, it was probably his least personable role. Still, kudos to him for finally winning this time, even though his speech was a bit forced.

So now what do I do with my life now that Leo has won an Oscar? There are no more jokes to make... who are we going to move on to now, or should I just keep bemoaning the fact that he only has one Oscar? Only time will tell.

Fury Road was WITNESSED!!!
In a not so surprising turn of events, Mad Max: Fury Road won 6 Oscars last night, all for technical achievements. While I wish that George Miller could have won Best Director, I can't say I'm too upset with how this turned out. For a lot of people, Fury Road was the underdog movie since the Academy almost always ignores big action movies when it comes to award time. And yet, here we are with six awards for production design, editing, costume, makeup, sound editing, and sound mixing. All of these are impressive feats and will leave any Mad Max fan extremely pleased.

Again, there's really not much to say here besides what it says on the tin. Fury Road won the most Oscars. That's enough for me.

Joe Biden? And Lady Gaga?
In what was probably the biggest upset of the night, Joe Biden comes up on stage to introduce Lady Gaga for her Oscar nominated song "Till It Happens To You", a song about surviving sexual abuse and staying strong despite the hardships of it. It was an extremely powerful speech from Biden, combined with a powerhouse performance by Gaga that made several people I know tear up at how powerful and emotional it was. Hell, even  was hit in the feels when I saw it. It was pretty much a shoe-in for winning.

And yet... it didn't. Despite an amazing performance, the winner went to Sam Smith for "Writing's on the Wall", in which he meandered around onstage crooning to his hit song from Spectre. Looking back on the song, I will definitely say it was the one of the best things about Spectre, and I know that the Oscar win doesn't go to which person had the best performance that night, but it still seems a little bit weird that the worst performance of the night should win the best original song. Gaga fans were pissed, sexual survivors I assume are disappointed, and even Sam Smith fans are kind of admitting that he should have lost this time. It is what it is, and maybe next year there will be a performance that will deserve the win and not upset the internet.

And the bizarre rest...
Yeah, outside of those semi notable things, the rest of the Oscars were just... weird. There were Girl Scouts selling cookies, Sacha Bara Cohen's Ali G presenting an Oscar nom, frequent cutaway jokes, and unsurprising wins and snubs. Mark Rylance won best supporting actor, Brie Larson won best actress, and Spotlight took home best picture along with best original screenplay. Ennio Morricone was finally honored, and Star Wars was completely shut out. It was an odd night of jokes, surprising wins, and nothing else of worth.

When I'm going to look back at this year's Oscars, the only movie that won multiple awards were Mad Max, The Revevant, and Spotlight, all of them were expected to win. Every other win was just for a single nominee. All of the jokes were set around #Oscarssowhite, which got old after a while, and even the bear from The Revevant made an appearance. I don't remember previous years being this weird, but all I can say about this year's Oscars is "it happened". So here's to the winners, and let's hope that next year's ceremony isn't plagued by this much controversy.

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