The Oscars. Arguably the biggest event in the movie world’s calendar. It’s all about the glitz, the glam and, of course, those coveted golden statues. Once a celebrated achievement, the highest accolade in cinematic art. Now, in today’s culture, it is an exhibition space, a ‘celebration’ of the celebrity. With the advent and slightly concerning […]

The Oscars. Arguably the biggest event in the movie world’s calendar. It’s all about the glitz, the glam and, of course, those coveted golden statues. Once a celebrated achievement, the highest accolade in cinematic art.

Now, in today’s culture, it is an exhibition space, a ‘celebration’ of the celebrity. With the advent and slightly concerning domination of social media and the press, the celebrity has become a social pawn in a world of intrusive voyeurism. For the mere mortal it is fascinating. How do they look so beautiful and perfect? More idealistic mannequin than human being, surely. And, in a few simple sentences, look how easy it is to lose the meaning behind it all.

So many articles reporting on the Academy Awards in previous years consist of a big feature on what said year’s fashion tops and flops were, followed by a less than impressive text box, hidden at the bottom, outlining the winners of the actual awards. Everyone remembers the moment Jennifer Lawrence took an embarrassing tumble at last year’s awards, but does anyone recall who won Best Director?

Let’s go back in time, to when old Hollywood was at its peak. Films were exciting. They took time and patience. They were the coveted originals and are still the best of the best. In the space of thirty years, some of the greatest works in cinema were released. The glamorous were out in force, with 1954 seeing Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra win an academy award, Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly the year after. True icons of the screen. Some may argue that it’s all well and good looking back in retrospect at the glamorous 50s, the swinging 60s, the days gone by. But for film lovers, looking back is often the only way to find true cinematic art. Films like My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and Oliver were winning Best Picture, whilst Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews were awarded for their acting talents.

The 70s didn’t disappoint either. From Al Pacino to Jack Nicholson to Woody Allen, there was no shortage of filmic legends taking to the podium to receive recognition. Let’s face it, the 70s produced two of the most highly regarded films ever made, a film franchise in which people actually wanted to see the second instalment. The Godfather trilogy broke the mould. It was smooth, intelligent and powerful and is still the favourite film of many film fans today, young and old. In other words, to use a cliché, it stands the test of time. After the 80s saw Chariots of Fire, Rainman and Dangerous Liaisons becoming deserved winners, we jump forward to the nineties. It is difficult to condense this decade of stunning Oscar-winning films. Simply put, any decade in which both TheSilence of Lambs and Titanic win Best Picture is a good one.

Star power is undoubtedly the way to sell a film. This was true then and still is now. But there has been a change. Star power, once about the longevity of true talent and awe inducing ability, has become disappointingly transient. Leonardo DiCaprio is tipped for Best Actor this year for his energetic performance in the exhaustingly long The Wolf of Wall Street. An established and talented actor no doubt, but just take a look back at his last few films. The word ‘typecasting’ comes to mind. Does he truly deserve the title of best acting performance in an entire year or is it just because he is who he is?

Amongst all the big blockbusters of the last few months is Nebraska, a film full of depth and accomplished acting. But alongside its competitors, it looks like the Academy just threw it in there for good measure. Are there any we didn’t expect? For film lovers, the Oscars should challenge expectations, not narrow them. Some of the films in the Documentary category, such as the incredible but harrowing The Act of Killing, despite being factual, should be amongst those nominated for Best Picture. The same can be said for many in the foreign film category.

Aside from film lovers with high expectations, the general public miss out because they are not given anything to care about. Bored by the big categories and perhaps not made aware of the smaller, there is nothing to create excitement, intrigue or thought.

What’s the one thing we can draw from all of this? It is simple – movies equal mass money making madness.

Maybe we will look back in another 50 years and similarly reflect on the past as a better time for film. Those aforementioned will be obsolete, replaced by future smash hits. The movie industry is always changing.

THIS MONTH AT THE SHOWROOM…
VAMPYR
MONDAY 17 FEBRUARY
DIR. CARL T DREYER | 1932 | GERMANY | 1hr 20mins

A unique opportunity to see one of the most powerful films by one of the most important  filmmakers that ever lived – Carl T. Dreyer. Accompanied by a score composed by Paul Robinson and performed live by his HarmonieBand, this early and vastly experimental piece transcends genre by expressing in full the possibilities of the film medium.

Anna Pintus.