The Oscars are right around the corner. If you need a run down of what's going on, like we did, keep reading to get the deets from guest blogger ScreenQueen, Juliette.
Back in 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doubled its allotted Best Picture nominees from five to ten. This move was meant to hearken back to the early days of Oscar, as well as make space for those worthy films which might otherwise be neglected from the category.
This year, the Academy nominated eight films for the Best Picture, and the category--along with the event as a whole--received criticism for paying disproportionate attention to films which focus white men over those centering on women and/or people of color. The following is a breakdown of some highlights this year, as well as a call-out to those areas with room for improvement.
♦ Charlotte Rampling’s performance in 45 Years was my personal favorite of the year. It was refreshing to see such a complex role written for a woman over 50, and Rampling was the perfect complement to her co-star Tom Courtenay.
♦ Directed by Alejandro Iñárritu and starring a likely exhausted Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant made great use of its landscape and nabbed a Best Picture Nomination as well as nominations for Best Actor, Director, and cinematography.
♦ Both leads from Todd Haynes’ Carol were nominated for acting, and Phyllis Nagy, the film's screenwriter and a contemporary of Patricia Highsmith, received a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.
♦ Critical reaction to David O. Russell's Joy was mixed, but Jennifer Lawrence was able to snag the nomination for Best Actress and bring attention to Joy Mangano's story.
♦ Actor and comedian Chris Rock returns this year to host the Awards, and promises to deliver an interesting and much-needed take on this year's controversy.
♦ I'd read the full plot synopsis of Room before seeing the film, and it still managed to surprise me. Brie Larson gives an amazing performance, and her nomination for Best Actress was well deserved.
♦ Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands received Honorary Oscars for their achievements in film at a separate ceremony held in late 2015. I'm counting this one as a positive even though I'd have loved to see these individuals accept their awards during the main ceremony.
♦ The Coen Brothers are nominated for Best Screenplay, but it’s for Bridge of Spies, arguably the least Coen-esque Coen Brothers project since Intolerable Cruelty.
♦ Though it’s undeniably cool that George Miller was at the helm for Mad Max: Fury Road, the film failed to live up to its feminist potential and its nomination for Best Picture makes little sense when considering films like Carol and 45 Years went unrecognized.
♦ Probably Brooklyn is not the most boring film ever made, but you'll have a hard time convincing me it deserved a nod for Best Picture. On a positive note, I'm finally able to spell Saoirse Ronan's name. I think.
♦ Michael Keaton in Spotlight was noticeably absent from this year's Best Actor nominees. This is either because 1) his performance in the film was too understated for Academy tastes, 2) he was nominated last year for Birdman, or 3) the Academy still hasn't forgiven him for Jack Frost.
♦ I never got to see Inside Out. (This is not really a negative, just a friendly hint that if anyone has the DVD I’d be up for watching it sometime.)
♦ The sole nomination for Straight Outta Compton went to a white writing duo, and Creed’s only nod went to Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor.
While it’s unlikely the Oscars will ever be completely without its detractors, public reaction to this year's nominations proves the Academy could do with added diversity--both behind and in front of the camera. As we go forward, it's important to remember our power as viewers--if we choose to seek out and support films made by a wider selection of individuals, those films will in turn receive the attention they deserve.
The 88th Academy Awards ceremony airs this Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 6 p.m. CST on ABC.
Be sure to join the Love IT! EVV Team for the Oscar Party viewing at Bokeh Lounge!
Juliette Faraone studied digital media and film at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College before earning her BA in English and comparative literature from the University of Evansville. She is currently a writer for Screen Queens and lives in Evansville with her girlfriend and two cats.