The Oscars continue to play it safe


Brendan Sawyer

Have you ever gone into something knowing you will be disappointed, only to still feel unprepared once that disappointment eventually hits? You try your hardest to brace yourself for the imminent wave of letdown, only to find yourself in utter shock when it crashes over you. You build up your emotional callus, but the utter sorrow still bogs you down as Green Book receives best picture.

Unfortunately, the Oscars were as frustrating as ever. The lack of a host made the show feel a little disjointed and uninspired as celebrity after celebrity tried to look like they enjoyed themselves. Rather than an opening monologue, we got a performance from Queen and Adam Levine which, while entertaining, felt more like a glorification of the band and less like a celebration of cinema. I love Queen, but the Academy really wanted the world to know that they love Queen. With Bohemian Rhapsody getting four awards, and almost every acceptance speech reverting to a reaction shot of the attending band members, I couldn’t help but feel like the Academy almost owed something to the band just for existing. But hey, Queen’s great, so I guess that could pass.

And then there’s Green Book. With the academy trying their hardest to stay relevant, I’m shocked that they would pick a film as vanilla and behind-the-times as it was. With numerous comparisons to uninspired films like fellow Best Picture Driving Miss Daisy, and multiple issues surrounding the film’s development such as the inaccuracies of Don Shirley’s character and a writer’s Islamophobic tweet, Green Book shouldn’t have been the pick for today’s cultural climate. Its win last night proves that as much as the Academy can try to seem hip, they can only go so far past what they know: safe Oscar-bait dramas.

The night wasn’t entirely disappointing. Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature, Olivia Colman won Best Actress for The Favourite and Rami Malek came through for Bohemian Rhapsody with Best Actor. Colman’s hilarious and heartwarming speech was easily the highlight of the night, nervously yet ecstatically stating how “oh, this won’t happen again”. Roma deservedly got three awards: Best Foreign Language Feature, Best Cinematography and Best Picture. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper gave a riveting performance of “Shallow,” which won Best Song, and their chemistry was almost a little too strong.

As per usual, the Oscars had its highs and lows, with maybe a little too many lows. Thankfully, the public is starting to care less and less about these arbitrary awards, and the Academy’s struggle for relevance was on full display this year. From trying to include a Popular Film category, or trying to remove Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography from the televised event, the Oscars will do anything to increase their viewership. What they don’t realize is that they cannot do so until they start recognizing well-made films that actually have something to say. Movie-buffs and casual watchers alike can only put up with so many Green Book’s before we start demanding a true celebration of filmmaking.

A full list of the winners can be found here.

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