Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oscar Talk

Today I’ll be talking about the Oscar talk itself.
In this Oscar talk I discuss about probabilities, what others say, what others suspect, what others hear about who and who will not be probably left out of this weird, strange and unpredictable race for the supposed most acclaimed and prestigious film award. Some may put their personal tendencies, some don’t care about anything but to mention the films that matter to be mentioned by their quality and with this last sentence I come to the core of what is the ideal Oscar Talk, to talk about films that deserve and therefore should earn praise. I’m referring to the journalists that focus on this awards’ race, on everything Oscars. And others like me, who enjoy following the intricacies of this world. So then after we discuss it, after we talk about how we hate this actor and that film shouldn’t even be considered a good film let alone be nominated, we come to the end of the talk and we knowledge how none of it matters. 
If Marion Cotillard wouldn't have won her Oscar it would be a really tough thing to go through but we would live with it. It wouldn't be the end of the world and we know it. There are far more concerning matters out there to consider! I’ve come to this Oscar talk, I started listening to it for the obvious reasons of a film lover, but also to understand, once that I’m already stuck in the Hollywood bubble, the intricacies of this world. There are many worlds out there, or communities, or whatever you want to call it, and believe it or not, this Oscar talk is just another little one.

A kid is presenting a film in the class, he says it won this or that Oscar, this is one world. Or, this is what Oscar means, or weights in some places, with different grounds of knowledge. But then there are the publicists, located in a complete different world, who push their films to higher grounds, who create a strong word of mouth and campaign really well in the town and then their film will be mentioned in another class in the future, no matter how good or not the film actually was at the time.

 The Q&A's.

Angelina Jolie supporing Ewan McGregor for The Impossible.

This talk can actually be pretty amusing and just crazy but with great moments of sobriety when talking about films, that’s why I keep hearing it. Let’s take a look at this very year. We have Daniel Day-Lewis who is up for a third Oscar. His performance is unsurprisingly acclaimed. I haven’t seen it yet but I can imagine why. The concerns about his win have to do with the fact that it is his third award. And, they might not give it? Here’s the crazy part I’m referring to when it comes to the Oscar talk. There are these really silly questions that, in a way, shouldn’t exist. Because the question should ultimately be about how good the performance is, how good other performances of the year are! See? Now, let’s talk about statistics, for a change. The last older foreign actress to be nominated for a foreign language film was Fernanda Montenegro, in 98, and the last two actresses being nominated in the same year for foreign language films were in the late seventies. It’s really fun but then again, it doesn’t really matter because it’s a new year and the Academy members, the people who give the awards, will vote and we still never know their tendencies and they probably don't care about how many Oscars the actors have or the language they speak (altough some may not feel like watching too many foreign language films, they may get tired). So the question this year is to whether two French actresses will be both nominated or not. When the question should be on how good their performances are and if whether other female performances top them or not. But here’s something we can’t forget, it’s not like we can measure ‘performances’, there’s no way we can do that, so it’s always part of an instinct, part of something we feel or/and others talk about with admiration. This also goes along the lines of how the female lead category is known to always be weak. In a way this is utter bullshit. There are always so many great performances, but many times they’re hiding in the indie world, or foreign world and not part of the talk. Let’s take a look at last year for instance. I would never, ever, have given the award to Meryl Steep. I can’t even believe that at that moment, I said she deserved it. 

There were other actresses, that weren’t even nominated, that deserved it much more. Like Olivia Colman, for Tyrannosaur, or Tilda Swinton, for We Need to Talk About Kevin, or Mary Elizabeth Olsen, for Martha Marcy May Marlene, or others that I haven’t even seen yet and that are probably better! But it doesn’t matter, because her performances are still good, are still out there to be seen again and again. And let’s also think that it doesn’t matter for the academy members that two of the best female performances of the year (along the Oscar race) are for two foreign language films. Because obviously, the actors have actually to be a part of the race, they have to be mentioning and that’s what Oscar experts do. How many actresses (and actors and filmmakers and films) would be competing for the statuettes if there was an even bigger extended Oscar Talk? I’m sure half the actors from Polisse would be in competition. But here’s another part of the Oscar talk. Once filmmakers and actors get their first nomination, from this point on they’re considered for pretty much everything they do. It’s becomes a pre-condition earned by their first nomination. The stardom that elevates performances is also something to consider. It would take a tremendous word of mouth, a tremendous effort for publicists and agents for an actor of Polisse to be in the race, because the Oscar members had to watch the film, so the film had to be officially screened in the selected theaters for the Academy members, had to be mentioned, had to be a lot of For Your Consideration ads. And this is yet a complex situation. 

I could also mention the discrepancies of the members, given that more than seventy percent of them are of white males, mostly older white males.  This issue in particular is far more interesting than other aspects I’ve been mentioning like the actor’s race, and statistics are quite meaningful here. When Kathryn Bigalow won the Oscar for Best Director, my first reaction was screaming to the screen saying “Marry me”. But then I was pretty emotional, she was only the fourth woman to be nominated for Best Director and the first to win.  It meant a lot and it felt really good watching a woman get up the stage and win that shit. And there are other impressive and undeniably suspicious statistics. Geoffrey Fletcher, the writer of Precious, became the first African American screenwriter to win an Oscar and Lee Daniels only the second black filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director. And this has been in more than eighty years of Oscar history. It’s quite a long time. 
And this is what experts do, journalists and others, they focus and are serious to what they choose to talk about, that's why they're called experts and I respect their relentless questioning and statistics.

Finally, Oscar talk isn’t just about statistics and guessing, at the end of day it’s about storytelling, film history, it’ about film tendencies of today, it’s about moving forward and learn about the changing world of films and ultimately about change, society, life. 
So, this has been today’s Oscar Talk, or me trying to understand it. So I hope you have enjoyed, and let’s not forget, no one has to care about it.

"For your Consideration" is part of the race, there are ads and they are out there.

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