Why Academy Members’ Lack-of-Diversity Is An Important Conversation


 

oscar_statueI’ve heard a whole lot about this topic from many different sides of the conversation lately. I come at this already not being a fan of the Oscars as a representation of film and cinema and I gave up watching them several years ago.

It’s been suggested by some (or many, even) that the reason for the complete lack of minority nominations this year may just be that the performances by non-white actors simply weren’t as good this year as the other’s nominated. Or that it’s a numbers game and there are fewer films and performances to choose from that highlight and showcase non-white actors and stories. While that second statement is certainly true for Hollywood and is something that desperately needs to change, it’s still far too easy an answer as to why most of the nominees this year are white. And it misses a crucial part of the point.

Here’s why I think the lack-of-diversity complaint that is taking place now is undeniably spot on: I know someone who has been in the industry most of their life and has been successful. This person is white. This person is older. And this person said to me that they walked out of the movie FRUITVALE STATION, not because it was a bad movie or that this person didn’t like the performances, but because, and this is verbatim, “I’m just not interested in movies about the black experience.” 

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Why Academy Members’ Lack-of-Diversity Is An Important Conversation

“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR.” When Good Films Are Passed Over


a-most-violent-year-posterHaving 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

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“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR.” When Good Films Are Passed Over

Tackling My Oscar Blues While Celebrating “BIRDMAN”


87th Annual Academy Awards - Show For anyone who has read my posts here for any length of time, you know that I have some serious issues with the Oscars. It wasn’t always that way and, perhaps, that is part of my struggle.

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.

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Tackling My Oscar Blues While Celebrating “BIRDMAN”

Terrifying Academy Voter’s Honest Reasons For How She Votes


stupid-Academy Voters 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.

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Terrifying Academy Voter’s Honest Reasons For How She Votes

The Oscar Coffin


OscarcoffinI’ll try and keep this short as I’ve gone on about this almost every year since I started this blog (and so many years before that in old-fashioned verbal exchanges).

This year’s Oscars was the nail in the coffin for me. I’ve been swearing to stop watching them for ages (I’ve never missed a one since I was a wee tyke). But each year the ceremony depresses me more and more. Seth MacFarlane and company was the final straw. And I actually like THE FAMILY GUY. I can do grossly inappropriate humor. In the proper context. The Oscars is not that context. MacFarlane brought a smug artificiality to the proceedings that, in an odd way, actually managed to highlight so much of what I do not like about the Oscars. There is a gross insincerity about the whole affair. It reeks of desperation, of panic, always on the edge of total collapse, like a star imploding in on itself. You can feel each and every producer vigorously second-guessing what the audience wants. Now granted, I may not be the typical Oscar audience despite my life-long commitment to them. I actually want it to be a celebration of cinema. I actually want it to be about the human beings, the creative individuals responsible for breathing life into these works. But that is not what the Oscars is and, each year, it is rarely more than a painful reminder for me of that heartbreaking reality.

Beyond MacFarlane’s nastiness (which also represents much of Hollywood for me) and that conceited grin I wanted to punch (did anybody else want to knock those teeth right out of his mouth?!), the Oscars simply do not represent what film and cinema is to me. In fact, it represents more of what I don’t like about contemporary Hollywood and exacerbates those elements that I feel keep film from being taken seriously as anything more than distracting entertainment. I’m sorry, when bloated openings and pointless dance numbers (for films not even from this year), or montages my nephew could have done better in iMovie (007) take the place of 30 more seconds so that a real human being can have his or her moment to say thank you… You know something’s wrong. It’s what Hollywood has become: character is not important, human beings, honest emotions, depth, insight, real experiences… None of these things matter. But big, pompous spectacles with flashing lights and loud sounds… Now THAT’S Hollywood. And for me, watching that train wreck each year is an incredibly painful experience.

In this new technological age, I can go to Youtube for future broadcasts and see the acceptance speeches that interest me (the parts that don’t get cut off by a self-mocking JAWS theme, as if that somehow made it humorous and not just plain insulting). I can watch Shirley Bassey and Adele, I can watch the In-Memorium and Barbra Streisand. I can see Daniel-Day Lewis’ and Ben Affleck’s humble speeches and the lessons they contains for those of us struggling to realize our dreams here in this very odd town. Yes, there are reminders at the Oscars of the good things –what isn’t rotten in the state of Hollywood– and those brief moments when daring and artistic films are recognized. I’ll watch those in chosen clips and consciously eliminate all the nastiness that surrounds it. I don’t need to invite any more negativity or insulting belittling of my favorite art form into my own home.

So next year I’ll do something nice for myself on that night. Like go see a really good film in a really nice movie theater.

Even if I’m the only one there.

 

 

The Oscar Coffin

A Mixed Bag Of Oscar Nominees


The Oscars are always a bit of a love/hate fest for me. As I get older, the Academy Awards mean less and less. As a child, they represented a wonderful world acknowledging great talent. Now, well… It seems more popularity fest and marketing than anything else. But let’s be realistic here, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want one myself… but at the same time, it would be more about fulfilling a childhood fantasy than actually being an achievement of the film itself. For me. Personally.

As in most years, many of my favorite films and performances are ignored by the Oscars. This year (though it was no surprise given previous picks at the onslaught of other Awards shows), my favorite film from 2008, ELEGY, was completely ignored as if it had never been made. And my next favorite film, HAPPY GO LUCKY, while not shut out, somehow managed to bypass a nomination for Sally Hawkins’ phenomenal performance. Ahhh… C’est la vie… It’s just an awards show, after all…

Here are the noms:

A Mixed Bag Of Oscar Nominees