92 Years of the Same: Post Oscar Thoughts

Photo+by+Flickr

Photo by Flickr

Ronnie Ovando-Gomez

What I hate the most about the Oscars is how much I want to watch them. 

Because we all do, don’t we? As film critic Lindsay Ellis pointed out in her video titled “Oscar Bait,” she states “The Oscars are one of those things that we care about because we are told to care about, despite the fact that we say we don’t care about them. … And then we write big, long, think pieces about how irrelevant the Oscars are and how much we don’t care about the Oscars.” 

Ellis is absolutely right.  I also find those think-pieces to be indicative of how important the Oscars are.

Because if no one cared about the Oscars, why even write about them in the first place? Why is the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences still here, 92 years later? 

I will wholeheartedly admit I very much care about the Oscars, even if I hate that I do. Because for every well deserved award there are at least four types of “undeserving” wins. 

The most neutral of the four would be the “sorry” win. The apologetic or “consolation win,” as the YouTube channel Be Kind Rewind puts it, a consolation Oscar,” is when a previous nominee wins an Oscar to “apologize” for not winning for a previous film. 

“In 1936, Bette Davis won her first Academy Award for her role in ‘Dangerous,’” said Be Kind Rewind in her video. “ But for Bette, the award had very little to do with ‘Dangerous.’ It was the Academy’s compensation for a perceived wrongdoing.”

This isn’t even going into the 2005 Oscars, where “Crash” won Best Picture despite not being as well received as other films, such as “Brokeback Mountain” and nowadays is considered to be a major upset in Academy history. 

Nor am I getting into “For Your Consideration” campaigns, which is essentially major advertisement directed at Academy voters.

What I’m saying is, who or what film wins an Oscar is not just the result of pure merit. Quality is important, but unfortunately it is not the only factor in winning.

Which brings us back to the current day, where the Academy ended up elevating marginalized groups while still continuing to marginalize those same groups.

“Parasite” became the first Non-English Film that isn’t based in the US to win Best Picture for the first time in over 92 years. 

Many of us, including myself, would have to watch with subtitles, a stigma referenced in Joon Ho’s speech at the Golden Globes. Taika Waititi won for Best Adapted Screenplay, making him the first Maori person to win an Oscar ever. Hildur Guðnadóttir won Best Original Score, making her the fourth woman to win overall. 

However, none of these wins, even “Parasite’s” does not mean the Academy is absolved from all of its problems. 

In the Best Directing category, no women were nominated, and “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho was the only person of color nominated. 

Greta Gerwig was snubbed for her film “Little Women,” but at the very least  her film had one win for Best Costume Design. 

Lulu Wang’s film “The Farewell,” however, had zero nominations despite having similar critical praise and having a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score, higher than Gerwig’s film. 

In the Acting categories, only one black person, Cynthia Erivo, was nominated. Antonio Banderas was the only hispanic person nominated as well. 

I’m very happy with all of the historic wins that happened that Sunday, but I have very little hope that any of those would pave the way for real substantial change in the Academy, as well as the film industry in general. 

At the end of the day, film is important, and because the Academy is reflective of Hollywood, the Oscars are important as well. We can only hope that 92 years in the future, the cycle of false meritocracy won’t repeat.