Are the Oscars actually succeeding in identifying the best films and best performances — or isn’t that the point anymore?
Apparently ‘Green Book’ is the best film of 2018 and Olivia Colman (in The Favourite) and Rami Malek (in Bohemian Rhapsody) produced the best lead performances in their respective gender categories (Yes; It’s 2019 and they’re still discriminating on grounds of gender!).
But can these results be trusted?
I haven’t actually seen these particular films, so I don’t know if the accolades they’ve received are remotely justified. I’m a big fan of great movies, however, and the Oscars really ought to provide a good guide to help me in making my future viewing decisions. But the thing is: I’ve got absolutely no faith that they’ll do anything of the kind.
The trouble is that when I looked at a list of Best Film winners from recent decades, I discovered I can find only one winner from the last 25 years that I can confidently claim is a genuine classic that has stood or will stand the test of time. But why is this?
Is it that great films are rarely made these days? It’s certainly a possibility. The modern film industry isn’t remotely close to matching the extraordinary standards that were set in the 1960s, for example. On the other hand, if I look at what I believe may be the best film made this millennium so far, I find it never even got nominated for Best Film. It was nominated for Best Animated Film, but it didn’t even win that either.
Or perhaps the academy has never really been especially interested in recognising true excellence, anyway?
The Oscars has the hype and the star names and the red carpet. It has the speeches and the tears and the selfies. But what the Oscars is really supposed to be, at its heart, is a system for recognising and applauding excellence in film.
And yet, if I look at a short list of what I would regard as the greatest films of all time (and my tastes aren’t all that unusual), I find the very best ones completely missing from the list of Oscar winners. Indeed, most of them were completely ignored by the Oscars. They weren’t even nominated.
My suspicion is that academy members are just so caught up in the mood of the moment, that they can’t see the wood for the trees. Perhaps they’re concentrating far too much on apportioning some sort of official popularity coinage to where it would be most acceptable to place it — thus sending what are deemed to be timely and appropriate messages about race, gender, sexuality or other social or political concerns of the day. Consequently, for many academy members, picking out the genuinely best films and best contributions may come nowhere near the top of their priority lists.
I also strongly suspect that many academy members can’t reasonably be described as film fans at all. Working in the film industry does not usually require that you appreciate watching good films.
But whatever the reasons, in my book, the credibility of the Oscars for picking out the best films and the best performances and other contributions is, at best, almost at zero.
So I think it’s time the Oscars played some serious catch-up. It’s time they signalled a new determination to put the mood and politics of the moment to one side to concentrate solely on identifying those films that history will judge as being amongst the best of their era — perhaps even amongst the all-time classics.
And what better way to do that than to eat a huge dollop of humble pie and dish out some belated lifetime achievement and hall-of-fame awards to where they are most criminally overdue?
How can the Oscars be taken seriously when it has completely overlooked perhaps the greatest filmmaker of all time for over 50 years, without any official word of regret or remorse?
Ladies and Gentlemen (and everyone else), I give you the greatest filmmaker of all time:
If, however, the Oscars continues to have no time to recognise ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ as one of the greatest achievements in film history, or to recognise Sergio Leone as amongst the greatest directors of all time, then I, in turn, have no time for the Oscars.