It seems to happen every year. The Oscar nominations come out and people scratch their heads about them. Not because they don’t know what the awards are for but for what the nominees are. Most Americans have not seen nor will they see the films nominated. These films star people we know and love but the films are not blockbusters. They are what films are suppose to be and that is art. Is the academy out of touch or is there different ways of viewing success.
The artful films are more than likely to be nominated rather than the $100 million action picture. Why?
Well it could be that members of the academy feel that is the right thing to do – reward art with a statue since it won’t be rewarded with box office profit.
It could also be a reaction to popular “dreck” filling screens in America’s multi screen theaters. 90% of films are sold to the 12 year old boy demographic and it shows. Saw 5 anyone?
Some think the academy is out of touch with “mainstream” tastes:
Entertainment writer Marc Caro noted that The Dark Knight, which took in $531 million at the domestic box office last year also garnered 94 positive reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website, compared with 60 percent for The Reader, which has grossed only $7.9 million. “Yet The Reader is a best picture (and director) nominee, and The Dark Knight is not,” Caro observed. Mediaweek analyst Marc Berman added: “The problem with the films this year is none of them are huge, mass-appeal hits.” Caro concluded that by denying recognition to films like Knight and Wall-e, the movie academy “risks confirming the suspicions of those who think it has grown out of touch with mainstream tastes.”
There seems to be two versions of success. One is “mass appeal” which equals large box office and the other is the art of filmmaking, which includes the filming, the script, and acting.
I think you can and do have both. As the quote points out “The Dark Knight” was artfully done yet had mass appeal. It just seems the conventional wisdom in the Hollywood community is if a film is just entertaining and maybe isn’t socially significant than it is less than the “art” they think they must celebrate with awards.
The other thing to consider with the corporate owned film industry that if not for the blockbuster then smaller films like “The Reader” would be less likely to be made or seen outside the major cities. However I would never say that “The Dark Knight” is less artfully done than “The Reader”. I think they are both great films.
The buzz this year is about the film “Slumdog Millionaire”. While I haven’t seen the movie, based on the trailers I have seen, I wasn’t impressed.
Art is a matter of tastes.