Since 2014 the Academy Awards have decided to join the 21st Century and offer viewers the chance to stream the content live online in addition to the ABC televised broadcast. So those of us who have abandoned the idiot box can tune in here http://oscar.go.com/live this Sunday February 26.
First time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel has to travel all the way across the street from where his nightly television show is filmed to attend the ceremonies at the Kodak Theater. The Oscars have been searching for a more stable host for more than a decade now and seems displeased almost every time. Last year’s 2016 Oscars show hosted by Chris Rock suffered the public complaint “Oscars So White” made popular in hashtag form #OscarsSoWhite and Mr. Rock was barred from further hosting possibilities for a joke that seemed to slander Asian-Americans. With as many rehearsals and censors as the show goes through before airing it is a wonder any lewd behavior surfaces.
This year’s nominations hopefully reflect the ethnic diversity of the country a little better than previous years but progress in this area is always slow. While I could expound on the many racial problems in the Hollywood system and the greater whole of the nation, this article will focus on the entertainment value of top three categories: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role.
With nine nominations for Best Picture there is still a thematic category that remains absent, there are no comedies. Well LaLa Land, the current forerunner for your office pools, is the only film representing the merged comedy/musical category. Critics love LaLa LAnd for its stunning visual eye candy but many feel it lacks real depth of story. While dramas win most of the time for Best Picture every decade has a musical Best Picture win, (there is also a black and white print since the advent of color films took over in the 1970’s but there is no nomination for a B/W movie this year so look out in 2018 and 2019) and once in a great while a comedy wins out. Action movies, no matter how good, rarely see the light of a Best Picture nom. The Academy extended its amount of Best Picture nominations from five to nine to better include the various genres but as you can tell this year things took a dramatic turn. (insert evil laugh here)
Arrival is the only Sci-Fi film nominated and it examines the possibility of alien life forms landing on planet Earth and how to communicate with them. Possibly a very important movie in this multicultural nation that is suffering from reactionary positions due to globalization.
While Hidden Figures is the funniest movie nominated it is more a historical drama dealing with race issues that uses a lot of comic relief to ease the tension of the much larger subjects.
Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water are typical Academy favorites as World War II dramas and Westerns dominate a huge preference for past wins.
Regardless if the film Fences wins for Best Picture it will become the standard go to for students reading the play from the late August WIlson. In my opinion it is the most worthy of the films. Well shot and directed and marvelously performed. This piece of classic American literature is brought back to life and will for sure be enjoyed by generations to come. This is the second August Wilson play Denzel Washington has acted in. Only eight more to go Denzy. I’m waiting…
Mr. Washington is also nominated for his acting Fences but not directing. Denzel already holds two golden bald statues in his pocket but that should not restrict him in any way for winning this time. This is the role he was born to play and it should be rewarded for the entertainment and artistic value it delivers.
Viggo Mortensen is the only other actor of a distinguished age that is being nominated in the Best Actor Category. His work in Captain Fantastic is possibly his best yet and should not be overlooked as a promising contender.
This year also features another highlight in the online world as Casey Affleck was nominated for Best Actor in his work for Manchester By the Sea, (also nominated for Best Picture) a film created specifically for view on Netflix. Technically as long as the film premiers in at least one movie theater it qualifies for nominations. This trick has been employed for years by studios releasing their Oscar intended films before the end of the year in limited engagement usually at selected theaters in New York and Los Angeles then having the full domestic release after New Year’s. The Academy might be cautious to recognize films made for online streaming networks as it harkens the end of the theater. While Manchester is less likely to win for Best Picture it is the forerunner for Mr. Affleck’s acting.
Can Meryl Streep act in any film without being nominated by the Academy? Just once I want to see her phone in a role but I bet it would still be astonishing. Many are looking to Natalie Portman in Jackie as the best hopeful for the Best Actress win.
Newcomers Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga also earned themselves Best Actress nominations. Both performers carry the bulk of these films and their work should not be missed despite winning or not.
The Oscars are live television and there is no accounting for what may happen. If Ms. Streep wins we are almost guaranteed a political speech which she has every right to. I’ve always wanted to see a winner ask for their co-nominees to join them onstage but this even frowned up by the Academy especially as the program reaches the end of its timeslot. In fact it is a wonder the Academy has not figured out how to budget time better. The program always begins slow paced and usually late then has to wrap up quicker than a 1930’s Universal monster movie, “well, the monster is dead, time to go home.”