Waking up to the news of the passing of Leonard Nimoy was like being hit in the face with an unexpected left hook. It reverberated throughout my body and is breaking my heart in a thousand different ways. Like losing a dear friend.
It warms my heart to hear it said out loud.
Having just watched J.C. Chandor’s latest film, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, I was yet again reminded of how easily terrific filmmakers and layered storytellers get tossed aside in the face of all the brouhaha that are the Oscars.
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a terrific film with complex characters that don’t offer simple answers to difficult questions. It is also a film I was told by a number of friends to “pass” on. That’s what I was also told about Chandor’s ALL IS LOST. I almost missed both films and I am SO thrilled that I didn’t as both hold places in my favorite films of their respective years. You can read my review and commentary on ALL IS LOST here.
Like many cinephiles out there, the Academy Awards were, as a kid, a big draw for me. I never missed watching it on TV. From start to finish. I hung on every word, every sound, every clip. As I got older, started working at film festivals, moved to Hollywood, started working in the industry itself, sold screenplays, directed two features, wrote for the studios, worked over 2 decades in casting, and have been represented by UTA, ICM and Gersh, my outlook on both this town, this business and the Academy Awards changed quite dramatically. Peeling back that curtain can be a scary thing. Like when one of my friends told me “Be careful of meeting your heroes. There’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed.” Of course, this is not always true. But I think the idea he was trying to get across was that, oftentimes, people, places and ideas exist in our mind in a somewhat more “perfect” or fanciful way than they may in actuality.
Here’s another Academy Voter’s honest reasons for voting as he does. His tastes are certainly better than the woman referenced in my previous post, but there is still an innate lack of daring in this viewer, a complete lack of layered storytelling sensibility on display here.
VOTER PROFILE: A longtime member of the Academy’s 387-member short films and feature animation branch who has been nominated for an Oscar.
I knew before seeing the film AMERICAN SNIPER that its politics were not in sync with mine. I’d heard enough from friends and from the news to know that people were having serious issues with the film while others were celebrating it. Yet I tried to know as little as possible about the plot. I wanted to see for myself how the film played, what the message was that I took away from it. I had heard that the title character was painted with much grayer tones than the black and white mentality that Chris Kyle apparently exhibits in his book of the same name. I was hoping, to an extent, that perhaps Eastwood’s film was polarizing because of its grey areas, that it might have been more open to interpretation, more provocative, even if I didn’t personally agree with all its sentiments.
This article in the Hollywood Reporter encapsulates, in large part, why I will never watch the Oscars again. The woman interviewed here is the embodiment of why Academy voters are downright hazardous to the world of cinema. Granted, this is only one person, but based on the nominations each year, I’d say she is probably a pretty good representative of exactly where the bar is set for Academy Members.Her profile is listed as: A longtime member of the Academy’s 378-member public relations branch.
Remember, the Oscars equals money; they are seen across the globe as “prestigious” and they strongly influence which films will get financed as well as being a signpost of influence and quality for future filmmakers. They are therefore –if this interview is any indication– directly responsible for the intolerance of the film industry itself, as well as being an embarrassment to the art of film. Here are some of this particular voter’s comments taken from the article. Enjoy.