The lack of diversity in this year’s Academy Award nominees has created a lot of noise, to the point where the Academy has finally agreed to do something about it. In a statement from the Academy, they said:
“The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”
You can read the whole thing here, but the whole joining process sounds a little strange. Surely, if the Academy really wanted to change things, they could do it by 2016. It would seem they care more about taking prestige, and more importantly screeners, away from aging white men rather than engaging active, creative, diverse artists.
But it’s short-sighted just to blame the Academy. This is also about the lack of quality, high-profile roles for non-whites. This Buzzfeed article sums it up better than I can.
It will be interesting to see how the next year pans out taking all of this into account. However, this doesn’t mean I won’t be watching the movies that have been nominated. As with previous years, I’m working my way through the Best Film nominees like a cinematic checklist. Below are my thoughts on this year’s crop, but some others that I feel should have been included.
The Big Short – I have to admit, I wasn’t completely drawn in by the trailer, or the concept. When I worked in finance I was exposed to some absolutely detestable people, and wasn’t too keen on watching a film featuring dramatized versions of these complete douchebags. However, this movie is about the good guys. Kind of. Steve Carrell is awesome, and I’m a bit annoyed that Christian Bale got nominated for Best Supporting Actor over him. But this is an ensemble movie, with some fantastic surprises. Give it a chance.
Bridge of Spies – Will and I saw this on a whim, and it turned out to be one of my favorite movies from last year. It is absolutely not the kind of film I would actively choose to see (Cold War thriller? No, but thanks). But it is genuinely exciting, and I’m so glad the genius Mark Rylance got nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his extraordinary performance.
Brooklyn – I cried at the trailer for this, and the story of a girl moving from where she grew up to America obviously resonated with me. I loved this film. Saoirse Ronan is one of my favorites (I will even defend Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones until my last breath), and if either she or Brie Larson win Best Actress, I’ll be happy. But Julie Walters should have been nominated for something, because she is hilarious.
Mad Max: Fury Road – I’ve already blogged about how much I love this movie. And Charlize Theron should have received a nod for something. Or the flame-throwing guitar dude. Another exciting film. And absolutely batshit crazy. If this won I would be extremely happy.
The Martian – Still haven’t seen this. It was an option on a flight but I watched Icelandic film Albatross (which was brilliant). I got about 40 pages into the book and got bored of the potato talk. I’m guessing the film isn’t so tuber-centric.
The Revenant – Again, haven’t seen this one yet. From what I can gather, it will probably be the movie to finally get DiCaprio that elusive Oscar. But it’s not even close to passing the Bechdel test.
Room – I cannot say enough good things about this movie. It’s based on one of my favorite books, it is directed by Lenny Abrahamson who made the incredible film Frank, and the two central performances (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay) are just mind-blowing. Before this film was even released, I joked about putting money on Larson to win the Best Actress Oscar for this. I really, really wish I had. Go see it now, if you haven’t already.
Spotlight – Again, another great ensemble performance. The story is very compelling, but the lack of a meaningful resolution was very disappointing, but not surprising.
Best of the Rest
The Danish Girl – Beautiful film. Eddie Redmayne entrancing as usual. But two minor gripes:
1. How is Alicia Vikander only nominated for Supporting Actress?! She didn’t support anyone in this film; she was a major presence in her own right.
2. One of the leitmotifs sounded like The Jam’s Eton Rifles and was a little distracting.
Carol – Again, absolutely stunning. Blanchett and Mara both gave fantastic performances. And the last ten minutes or so were very moving.
Anomalisa – I can’t really top Matt Patches’ review of Anomalisa. But it is the most raw, honest movie I have ever seen. Don’t underestimate it because it looks like something your kid would watch. Seriously, you do NOT want your kid to watch this. So much puppet wang.