I Won’t Watch (Don’t Ask Me)

The movie The Color Purple is the reason I don’t watch the Oscars.

The 1985 movie was incredible with a great cast, a wonderful adaption of the book, and beautifully filmed. And while it was nominated for 11 Academy Awards there was one category that was overtly missing from the list: Best Director.

Steven Spielberg was not even nominated. Despite being nominated by the Golden Globes and the Director’s Guild of America (winning the DGA award), Steven Spielberg was conspicuously missing from the Best Director category at the Oscars. This is where I learned how completely subjective the Academy is towards movies and their makers. Spielberg was “that Jaws guy” and “that horror director”, so he was completely discounted as a nominee based on his past work and not his current work. It would take another 8 years for the Academy to recognize his talent as a movie director with Schindler’s List.

Many of those who are voting members don’t understand how movies are made these days. A lot of voting members have admitted to not even watching all the films, but voting despite that small detail. While I agree that popularity should not dictate who wins, there are still many performances that are completely ignored. Motion capture is a perfect example of how actors’ performances are discounted despite their brilliance.

Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in Avatar and Andy Serkis as Gollum in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and as Ceasar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes gave inspired and amazing performances; but the Academy could have cared less because they were considered special effects. Motion capture requires a lot from an actor to try and give a performance without a costume, covered with “ping-pong balls”, and with a camera in front of their face capturing every move. Talk about distracting.

But the only thing the voting members can take away from this is that the characters were created in a computer. They make a decision based on ignorance.

While many actors feel that the Oscars are less important for recognition than the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, where they are judged by their peers in the industry, it is still galling to me that voters who are no longer in the business or have no concept of how the industry has changed are tasked with picking the “winners”. And even more disrespectful is when those nominees are very, very, very white. If Kenneth Branagh had filmed Chi-Raq, the Academy would be falling over itself to make nominations.

There needs to be a better system.

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