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Oscar Buzz... Talk Around Tinseltown


This year's awards season has been quite fascinating and contentious. From complete snubs and surprise twists to contentious issues, it's been far from boring. The film Parasite has dominated headlines as the front runner, garnering plenty of nominations the and generating plenty of speculation around the notion of a foreign film in an American awards competition. While 1917 looms large as a technical masterpiece, Parasite is just much more well-rounded and the Oscars tend to favour performances if you ignore Titanic. Boon Jong Ho has been in high spirits, commenting on how subtitle films should be given more recognition from broader audiences and deflecting some of the Oscar pressure by acknowledging the locality of the Academy Awards and other similar film competitions.

The Voting Process

It's been a massive shakeup with many pointed opinions on what seems fair. While the Parasite ensemble are quite brilliant, they were largely ignored in the acting awards nomination process. While bringing their relative anonymity under the spotlight and how that impacts behind-the-scenes voting processes, it's also been a time of reflection and criticism of voting procedures where people have also been wondering if all voting members have even seen all the films in competition. Obviously this poses serious credibility issues for the Academy, whose specific process should be fair or at least carry the illusion of integrity.

Criticised but Still Tops

The Oscars have taken on quite a bit of heat over the years from being deemed too white and racist to becoming irrelevant in the modern era. Struggling to find a host with a squeaky clean record, almost as if they were swearing in a president, the red carpet event has been forced to play catch up. While these kinds of competitions are often political and slanted at the best of times, we are living in an age where there's no hiding from the truth any more. The entire "for your consideration" campaigning process already leaves a strange taste in the mouth, which is compounded by some of the more obscure decisions that face heavy criticism come awards season.

Love it or hate it, the Oscars is still an institution, one by which most actors live and breathe. Having one of those golden statuettes accredits you as an actor for life, serves as an everlasting calling card and is a major validation for anyone in the industry who's seeking to reach the pinnacle of success. Still revered, respected by peers and regarded as the crème de la crème of film award ceremonies worldwide, this probably explains why small matters become contentious and snowball into major debate points.

Supporting Acts

One discussion that clearly needs to be had is the idea of the supporting actor and what constitutes a supporting act. This year, while Brad Pitt was essentially a co-lead in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he is scooping up all the best supporting actor awards. As an actor, having enough screen time to do your character justice is a major advantage. Smaller character actors have got a limited amount of time to convey the particular nuances of the character and this is much easier to do when you aren't confined to a few minutes. While Alan Alda delivered a performance worthy of some award recognition in Marriage Story, his time on screen is far less than Brad Pitt or Anthony Hopkins had to work with.

In fact, what's quite humorous is that Hopkins won Best Actor for The Silence of the Lambs when he collectively was on screen for less than the time he was in his role as Pope Benedict in The Two Popes. The opposite is true for Margot Robbie who was nominated for her performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Obviously during the campaign process films decide who their nominees are based on which stars have the best prospect of being nominated. While Margaret Qualley actually had a better turn, it's Robbie's star presence and overall ability that was given precedence. This led to the strange double nominee situation at the BAFTAs.

Robbie had a strong year as a supporting actor, so it would have made much more sense for her to get a dual nomination rather than a double nomination. Pushing out some of the other possible nominees, who were probably more deserving, it just comes across as unfair on the smaller fish. The Oscars do need to redress their entire system and while we may never get to a point where everyone is happy, one does feel that as the highly esteemed film award continues to serve as the standard, there is a greater pressure for them to go back to the drawing board and find a better way of adjudicating and acknowledging real film talent.