Do you think Academy Awards has hurt film?

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And thus saying you are against virtue signaling that we cannot prove or disprove or real is simply virtue signaling of its own.
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Holden, I think you are right that the anonymous ballots in the pieces you reference are a small subset of Academy Awards voters, and may not always be representative of a consensus view. However, I do think they are valuable data points, and when they trend in one direction or another, that's still valuable information, even if it is incomplete. I also know people personally who have seen "Power of the Dog," and none of them liked it, and I have pretty educated, literate friends.

It is, however, in my opinion, not really a debatable point that the Academy in the last several years has shifted quite dramatically to nominating a narrower band of film than were nominated in the past, which usually either focus on stories centering around marginalized groups, or that promote particular liberal viewpoints. I understand that you don't agree, and that's okay, but you can't pretend that there isn't evidence that this is happening.

BELFAST (an immigrant story, which is a marginalized group)
DON'T LOOK UP (centering around climate change, highly critical of anyone who does not prioritize it as the pre-eminent social issue of our time, or who doesn't focus on it enough)
DRIVE MY CAR (foreign film, and Japanese people are an underrepresented group. Foreign films like this have not typically been nominated previously for Best Picture very often, but yet in just the past few years, Parasite, this film, and Minari have all been nominated)
DUNE (I did not watch this, so I don't know if it fits the theme or not. I suspect that it doesn't)
KING RICHARD (focusing on a marginalized group)
LICORICE PIZZA (I don't think this fits the theme)
NIGHTMARE ALLEY (I did not watch this, so don't know if it fits this theme)
THE POWER OF THE DOG (gay theme, which is a marginalized group)
WEST SIDE STORY (focusing on inner city Hispanic youth, another marginalized group)
CODA (focusing on the hearing impaired, another marginalized group)

Of 10 films nominated for Best Picture this year, 7 focused on marginalized/minority groups. This is simply not how Best Picture nominees looked in the past. I think the problem here is not that these films are spotlighted. I think there should be room for all types of films, and if a film is well made, I'd be interested in seeing it even if it focuses on these groups. I may learn something! I think the problem here is that the majority of the nominees fit this category, and that doesn't leave much room for other types of films, which are more widely liked or popular, and which would be more widely embraced by both liberals and conservatives alike, but that don't fit this theme, to be nominated for Best Picture.



I haven't seen "Power of the Dog," so I may be missing the nuances here, but my understanding of it is that it focuses on a repressed gay man who is struggling with his sexuality because he doesn't feel he can express it due to societal pressures that were common in the old West. I also have heard many people, including Academy members who filled out the anonymous ballots, who really didn't like the film, but appreciated the message, which seemed to be that gay sexuality should be fully accepted and embraced, and that a failure to do so causes a lot of pain and struggle. Voting for a movie that you didn't really enjoy because you liked the message it sends is, in my opinion, a kind of virtue signaling.
If that's true (if), then that would be "virtue-signalling" on the part of the Academy, not the movie itself (which you should watch).



And thus saying you are against virtue signaling that we cannot prove or disprove or real is simply virtue signaling of its own.
I mean, I guess so, in case anyone thinks being against virtue signalling is in itself a virtue, which even I donít. Iím not a virtuous human being, see. Not even a little.

I do see your point though; itís a logical view for sure.



Did you see any of these movies?

BELFAST (an immigrant story, which is a marginalized group)
A movie about Irish people in Ireland. To make this fit your broad criteria does a movie about a country made from somebody in that country mean they are somehow marginalized?

DRIVE MY CAR (foreign film, and Japanese people are an underrepresented group. Foreign films like this have not typically been nominated previously for Best Picture very often, but yet in just the past few years, Parasite, this film, and Minari have all been nominated)
Oh, to answer my question, yes, apparently. Japanese people are underrepresented in what? Not Japanese cinema, of which this is a part. Underrepresented in Hollywood? In the seventh district of Texas? What are you on about?

DON'T LOOK UP (centering around climate change, highly critical of anyone who does not prioritize it as the pre-eminent social issue of our time, or who doesn't focus on it enough)
A movie about a planet-killing meteor. A sort of metaphor for climate change, sure.

DUNE (I did not watch this, so I don't know if it fits the theme or not. I suspect that it doesn't)
Uh, a movie about religious zealots in a desert war? Yeah, that frickin' fits, Buddy! At least using the same broad, lazy logic used for the others.

KING RICHARD (focusing on a marginalized group)
Tennis instructors?

LICORICE PIZZA (I don't think this fits the theme)
It's about a Hollywood wannabe. Self-congratulatory, self-referential horsepucky! Of course it fits! Look at the world beyond Hollywood, you liberal cucks! But not Ireland or Japan?

NIGHTMARE ALLEY (I did not watch this, so don't know if it fits this theme)
Making fun of White Trash desperation! Of course!

THE POWER OF THE DOG (gay theme, which is a marginalized group)
You keep saying it has a gay theme, although you haven't bothered to watch it and don't know quite what or how central it is to the story...but OH YEAH!

WEST SIDE STORY (focusing on inner city Hispanic youth, another marginalized group)
And inner-city Irish youth (those dirty Micks again)! This must be as shocking as it was in 1961.

]CODA (focusing on the hearing impaired, another marginalized group)
Also commercial fishermen and high school choir teachers, two more marginalized groups! Lucky there weren't any Irish or Japanese in the story. Though I guess if we could stop labeling any group that isn't white, straight, non-disabled Americans as "marginalized" maybe this theory wouldn't hold any water at all?



Good Lord.



Nearly all standard narrative is based on conflict and struggle. It is frequently about individuals, or groups, overcoming the odds. There is a reason (and it isn't virtue signalling) we can almost always find themes and characters and narrative arcs which focus directly or indirectly on those who are not in power. And this applies even to the past when most films centered around white, male, heterosexuals. There are nearly always elements that set them apart (they come from dysfunctional families, they struggle with substance abuse, they are social awkward dorks, they have a disability etc etc etc etc). Yet strangely, back then, none of this was considered as 'virtue signalling'. You could make a movie about a white alcoholic man and not have a bunch of weirdo's screaming about how we only are making this film to support the rights of people with drinking problems. It was simply understood as a compelling subject for drama.



This isn't complicated. This isn't a conspiracy.



I think I may bow out of this conversation soon, not because I can't defend my viewpoints, but just because it seems like it's going to be a divisive conversation upon which we won't ever reach an agreement, and I don't want to contribute to that on the board.

For someone who is a film critic and industry film expert who analyzes the Oscars and has a much better knowledge of film history and all these films than I do, I'd suggest you read Sasha Stone's work at AwardsDaily. I don't think you will agree with it, but she articulates the points very well, and she has seen all of the movies. Much of my viewpoints on the Academy's choices in recent years has been informed by her work.



I don't know Stone's work very well, but I'll take a look. I did see her episode of the Netflix series "Voir" about her response to seeing Jaws as a child.

I also don't know when this supposed "lost age" of better, deserving Best Picture nominees was? The 1940s? The 1950s? The 1970s? Here are the Best Picture nominees from 1972 (the 1973 ceremony). Look at them through the exact same prism as today's "biased" choices...
  • The Godfather
    - Italian immigrants, a marginalized group.
  • Cabaret
    - homosexuals and artists, both marginalized, persecuted by the Nazis in WWII Germany. Drama queens...literally!
  • Deliverance
    - poor, white, rural antagonists demonized as nothing but murderers and rapists (homosexual rape at that!). Liberal catnip!
  • Sounder
    - black sharecroppers in the Depression era-South. Oscar bait much?
  • The Emigrants
    - come on!
The point is you can play that game with any group of movies that you want. You are allowing that The Godfather and Cabaret and Deliverance were nominees not because they clicked some box about appropriate subject matter - although you can see that they do if you want to make a game of it - but rather because they are objectively good. You reject that the exact same thing can be true of films released in recent years. Moonlight isn't a good movie, it just gets a pass because it is about homosexuality and the African-American experience so that must be why it got votes. If that is what one wants to believe, have at it. But you can't defend it with logic.




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I think I may bow out of this conversation soon, not because I can't defend my viewpoints, but just because it seems like it's going to be a divisive conversation upon which we won't ever reach an agreement, and I don't want to contribute to that on the board.

For someone who is a film critic and industry film expert who analyzes the Oscars and has a much better knowledge of film history and all these films than I do, I'd suggest you read Sasha Stone's work at AwardsDaily. I don't think you will agree with it, but she articulates the points very well, and she has seen all of the movies. Much of my viewpoints on the Academy's choices in recent years has been informed by her work.
I am familiar with Stone, as I followed her site from 2000-2005. Her views shouldnít be taken as anything f more then an opinion, rather than as truth.



Holden, your film knowledge is far superior to mine, so I haven't actually seen any of these movies, with the exception of "The Godfather," so I can't really weigh in.

I think my premise is that the Academy is nominating and awarding different films than they did before. They tend to be smaller, more like independent films, often made by women and/or minority directors, and which sometimes, but not always, feature stories that spotlight minorities or other historically underrepresented groups as part of the storyline. Additional, they sometimes, but not always, feature traditionally liberal themes, such as "Don't Look Up," that may be more divisive than Oscar films were in the past, and that may not be widely embraced by large portions of the public due to those themes. We may not agree on why this is happening, but do you agree that the types of films that the Academy has nominated in recent years is qualitatively different than it was before, or do you not even see that?



We may not agree on why this is happening, but do you agree that the types of films that the Academy has nominated in recent years is qualitatively different than it was before, or do you not even see that?
No.

The idea that more "independent" films are being nominated now versus previous eras is due mostly to the fact that until the 1960s there was no such thing as independent cinema as we know it today, and it didn't really come to the fore until the 1990s. Before the end of the 1960s of course American film was almost exclusively the domain of the major Studios. As those old studio heads died off and those brands sold to corporations this changed the landscape considerably. The kinds of stories that resonate most artistically tended to be more and more not made by the major studios, or under their smaller "arthouse" branches. In the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s of course just about all of the Oscar nominees came from the mainstream studios. Historically shamefully to the exclusion of foreign cinema. By the '70s that had started to shift dramatically. The major studios still made big-budget blockbusters like The Godfather, but more and more the filmmakers and actors and other artists who were attracted to darker, more complex stories found the studios were less and less willing to make them. Thus the rise of independent cinema. Should it be at all surprising that a shift began where the Oscar nominees likewise migrated more and more to smaller films?

That's all that happened, from the business side of things. You seem to ask why they don't make movies about deep subjects that rise to the top of the year end box office anymore, but that was a very narrow window of time that closed naturally when the business models changed. It is no liberal conspiracy, it is not a scheme to indoctrinate anybody. If you ask a bunch of filmmakers what is the more interesting, better made, more thoughtful movie why on earth would somebody be shocked that they would choose Moonlight over Captain America: Civil War? If anyone thinks that is snobbish or wrong or whatever, you can, but it shouldn't be the least bit surprising.

If you want to continue the conversation I guess that is a good place to start. If you think movies like Moonlight or CODA or Parasite or Nomadland are too whatever and not seen by enough people to count (because that is a prerequisite?), what movies from the past few years do you think were monstrously snubbed and ignored because the liberal elite just can't see the light?



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You do have a very legitimate point that movies such as "Kramer v. Kramer" used to be both critically acclaimed and widely seen and appreciated in the past, and now are not. However, I think your "Spider Man" reference is also a little bit of an overgeneralization that presents a false dichotomy. There is quite a gap between nominating a "Spider Man" movie, and nominating the types of movies that used to be nominated in the past, even as early as 10 years ago, but now are not. These well-made, but still popular films, have largely been replaced by an increasingly narrow range of films that often focuses on movies that highlight the experience of marginalized or minority groups, or that are made to promote traditionally liberal themes (Don't Look Up, The Power of the Dog) in order to virtue signal to as much as half of the country that often don't resonate with these increasingly niche choices.
Looks like Holden already beat me to it, but the Academy has been acknowledging and awarding films about minorities and marginalised groups for decades already - I'm sure Best Picture winners like In the Heat of the Night or Midnight Cowboy would fit this particular criteria for instance (and like he said, West Side Story is a remake of a 60-year-old movie so that should be the best proof that none of this is really new).
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The movie industry is a business, they want to make money. If there were no award shows, then people would only be making blockbusters.
I don't understand this. Why would only blockbusters be made if there were no award ceremonies?



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I don't understand this. Why would only blockbusters be made if there were no award ceremonies?
At the end of the day, the movie industry is a business. The notion of possibly winning an award opens the door to more films being made that are not blockbusters. Smaller stories, something that takes a chance, unproved talent, etc. If awards did not exist, in my opinion, the percentage of films that would fit in this category would drop significantly. Films like those are hard to fund as it is right now and a lot of them get funded with the idea of possibly winning an award.

I'm not saying that zero indie films would get made, but the number would be significantly less. The creatives in the industry don't fund movies.
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I think the reality is the Oscar ceremonies have only traditionally saved a very small handful of indie films a year. And while it might help in that small productions gain financing in hopes of being one of the few that get nominated and get a cash-boon from it, I think the reality is that quiet, introspective, artier films still generally have to operate on the premise they aren't going to ever make their money back. That they will likely be forgotten by the vast majority of the public. They sadly have to do it for little more than love of the art. And for the handful of obsessives that are willing to dig them out of the cracks they've fallen between.


That said, I entirely support the small help award ceremonies offer films like this. And while I would never truly suggest blockbusters should be discounted because of their success, I'm usually annoyed when something that has already reaped a tonne of profits, now gets a second pat on the back with a nomination or a win. Let's spread the love around a little (even though, it's pretty much undoubtedly true that the Oscars would hardly get many eyeballls if it only nominated movies like In the Bedroom or Junebug or The Florida Project, rendering any of its influence moot)



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At the end of the day, the movie industry is a business. The notion of possibly winning an award opens the door to more films being made that are not blockbusters. Smaller stories, something that takes a chance, unproved talent, etc. If awards did not exist, in my opinion, the percentage of films that would fit in this category would drop significantly. Films like those are hard to fund as it is right now and a lot of them get funded with the idea of possibly winning an award.

I'm not saying that zero indie films would get made, but the number would be significantly less. The creatives in the industry don't fund movies.
I still don't understand. Sorry if I'm being a bit dim. But money would still be made if there were no awards surely? Many industries don't have glitzy awards ceremonies that celebrate their end product but they still thrive.

There are a million different reasons why films get made. I just made my first film, awards have literally nothing to do with why I made it. Neither does money.



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. I just made my first film, awards have literally nothing to do with why I made it. Neither does money.
Can I go to my local theatre and watch your movie?



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But that's my point. Anyone can make a movie, but what makes it accessible?
Being able to watch it makes it accessible. If anybody can make a movie, doesn't that totally negate your original point, which was "If there were no award shows, then people would only be making blockbusters"