I am not an avid supporter of the Oscars. Although the Academy’s original intention may have been to honor films (and the creators behind them) that impact the industry and propel the cinema arts in a particular year, too often that is not what the Oscars achieve. The Oscars and other award-giving entities, at their best, shine a spotlight on powerful indie films deserving on media attention. At their worst, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allows corporate money and the need to maintain a viewership influence the decision-making of its members.
Just this year, the Academy faced backlash for their attempt to introduce an award for Outstand Achievement in Popular Film. The perception from the film community was that by creating this award, the Academy was drawing a hard line in the sand on a decades-long debate regarding the artistic merit of big budget films. Films (like Black Panther) that were popular with movie-going audiences were, by their standards, inherently inferior to indie films. Even worse, the AMPAS was perceived to only be creating this award category to draw in the same audience they were insulting.
I am heavily villainizing the Oscars because of their high profile and recent scandals. But the corruption of the film recognition process touches nearly every part of the film industry. Voting members of organizations behind these awards ceremonies are notoriously wined and dined by big budget studios to influence the critical judgment and discussion of opinion/memory of a film.
I have zero problems with lifting up deserving films of all sizes. I believe that organizations like AMPAS have a responsibility to seek out and spread awareness of independent films. But to allow nigh-monopolies to affect the progress and discussion of the Arts is unacceptable. Big budget and/or popular films should be part of awards discussion for their ability to convey an incredibly compelling narrative while expertly weaving top-notch action sequences and stunning CGI throughout.
In my research for this article (and its sister article next year), I read about the highly crucial industry careers that aren’t recognized through the Academy Awards. The most notable career not recognized is that of stunt coordination. When I think back to how I fell in love with movies, it burns me up inside that those who achieve remarkable feats of action through physical sacrifice and planning have been spurned for so long. They help to continue the cash flow of the film industry on the global level and can add another layer of storytelling to a movie. Action movies are capable of telling a compelling story.
A powerful film should be able to stand on its own two feet and still execute its story. No bribing. No franchise legacy nominations. Just a spectacular story told through film. Organizations like AMPAS have to remain above corruption in order to uphold the standards of the art form.