So the award season is almost over for another year and we all know that what are widely considered to be the biggest of all the awards, The Oscars, are portrayed as being given out to only the best of the best. They would have us believe that this honour is bestowed upon the lucky few after a rigorous and careful nomination process to insure that only the most deserved are in for a chance of being awarded the “highest” honours in the film world. Weird as it is then that, not for the first time, a film or two, particularly worthy of winning some awards, let alone be nominated in multiple categories such as best film, actor, director, and screenplay, have been completely disregarded.
Such is the overwhelming wisdom of the academy that perhaps their decisions that seems completely illogical to me are in fact beyond my comprehension and there is something inexplicable that I cannot fully fathom in their reasoning. That or bureaucracy, commercial viability and politics have once again been the main concern where it is only meant to be the consideration of art. This is also not me having a go at films both past and present that have won or been nominated for Academy Awards, it is not the film, cast or crews fault that the system is fundamentally flawed. I was as extremely happy when Martin Scorsese was finally awarded the Best Director for The Departed in 2007, a great film by anyones standards and one I can watch again and again and continue to love and find new things that I appreciate about it. However if we are going by the framework to which the academy portrays itself as working in, were Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, all of which were nominated but didn’t win, arguably not even more so deserved of the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a film? The Academy was probably a little late (30 odd years) to award a living legend of cinema a best director statue, but hey better late than never.
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is nominated for Best Picture this year and the man himself is also up for Best Director and there are some really great films nominated along with it. 12 Years a Slave (read our review on here), Gravity and Dallas Buyers Club to name a few. However what annually frustrates me is that some films just don’t ever seem to stand a chance. Anything that is a little less conventional or in some way against a set of rules that only the academy know about seems to be dismissed as ineligible. My biggest gripes this year are All Is Lost and Inside Llewyn Davis, although unfortunately I haven’t yet seen Inside Llewyn Davis and so cannot really comment further than to say The Coen Brothers, a story of trying to make it in the music industry without selling out and rave reviews from everything I have read, probably means it is a film that should have been nominated for at least Best Picture.
All Is Lost however is a film I have seen and I can tell you uncategorically that is it a travesty that it has not only been left off the nominations sheet for Best Picture but also Writing, Director and Actor! Written and directed by J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), All is Lost stars Robert Redford (known only as ‘Our Man’) in what is essentially a one man show about what happens when ‘Our Man’s’ boat is badly damaged by an adrift container in the middle of the ocean, forcing the resourceful Redford to battle the elements and face his own mortality. At 106 minutes long this isn’t exactly a short film for what is essentially one man on a boat, but the entire film is so tense and all consuming that I didn’t want it to end, just wanting to continue battling through the journey with Our Man. I found it such an immersive film that afterwards I felt emotionally exhausted and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards, for me one of the signs of a great film. As someone who has tried to write a script before I also fully acknowledge often how much harder it is to convey narrative, emotion, characterisation etc without the use of language and seeing as there are about 5 lines in the whole film I would say this was done to perfection. Robert Redford is stunning as the main (only) character, subtly conveying his emotion, frustration and character through an expertly nuanced performance. The fact he was left off the Best Actor list, to which he has responded by saying he doesn’t care, good lad, is perhaps the biggest kick in the proverbial balls.
I would argue that Gravity, which is up for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director and deservedly so, is not that dissimilar in many respects to All Is Lost. It is ultimately about one persons struggle to survive in an alien environment, the main difference being that Sandra Bullocks (brilliant) struggle is against that of the unknown vastness of space, whereas Redford’s is that of the unknown vastness of the ocean. The only difference I can see between the two then is that it is the scale and technology of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity that puts it, in the eyes of the academy, in higher esteem than that of All is Lost. I personally thought both films were excellent and feel that they should both have been considered for a multitude of awards and in as much as they are similar thematically they are indeed very different and original in many respects as well.
It is therefore sad to say that every year when award season rolls round that although I am always excited at the myriad of great films that are released to vie for contention on The Oscars hotlist, there is always a certain amount of apprehension to see which films, directors or whoever it may be will be left out in the cold that year. Films of course do not need to have some kind stamp of approval only a nomination or award can garner to make them great and often the greats do not. However I can’t help feeling that it must feel pretty shit to know you have made something special that will not be considered for reasons that aren’t truly represented because they are hidden behind a facade of honesty and deservedness. When really what actually lies behind takes very little consideration about artistic brilliance. I will leave you with this The Best Picture category of The Oscars has spaces for 10 films and this year they only chose 9, so they didn’t even fill all the spots they could have done and still films are being left off, as I said earlier the almighty logic of The Academy is beyond my comprehension.
Anyway rant over, let us know what you think, what film deserves to take best film this year? What other films do you think were left out and deserved to be considered?