What the 2019 Oscars Got Right and Wrong

We all enjoy a good award show. Our favorite producers and actors have just one year to get industry wide recognition with what has got to be one of the best resumé fillers ever. Although we don’t really know the Academy’s reasoning behind their nominations and winner decisions, we sure know how to project our own opinions crassly and enthusiastically throughout the show. Of course, only the shows we like deserve to win. The projection of our opinions onto the clashing decisions made by the Academy is the source of the excitement of those that watch from their sofas. At the end of the day, someone, somewhere is always going to have a differing opinion during an award show. And on that note, I have a few things to say…

Objectionable Winners:

  • Directing: ‘Roma’ ‘BlacKkKlansman’

Its obvious that the Academy has a type. Throughout recent history, only feel-good dramas and biopics have been taken seriously at the Oscars. The movies have been really sappy, adaptations of telling stories that have relatively little impact on the audience outside of the theater. But when a movie like ‘BlacKkKlansman’ hits theaters as hard as it did in the summer of 2018, Hollywood should take note. Spike Lee is a very talented director, and no other could have successfully realized the ambitious task of bringing attention to America’s violently racist past through the sprawling action genre. Now don’t get me wrong, ‘Roma’ is an excellent movie, but Spike Lee had something to say with ‘BlacKkKlansman’. And he’s not done speaking.

  • Music (Original Song): “Shallow” “All the Stars”

This one really disappointed me. “Shallow” is SUCH a lame song compared to “All the Stars”. Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the one-instrument, folk-pop type of songs and “Shallow” loses even more points for trying to make me cry. Read the lyrics. Why are they so down-and-out about filling voids and looking for more in the modern world? Why should this song win against an instrumentally diverse, heart-warming, and culturally engaging masterpiece by SZA and Kendrick Lamar? Honestly, the amount of work, forethought and timelessness should have granted ‘All the Stars’ a win over any of the sappy songs from ‘A Star is Born’.

  • Visual Effects: ‘First Man’ ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Let’s compare the two movies. ‘First Man’ is a Neil Armstrong biopic that uses great, realistic visual effects to elaborately demonstrate the excitement and dangers of being the first man to walk on the moon. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is the most ambition crossover event in history. Half the characters in Avengers aren’t even real people, yet they have just as much of a presence. The super hero movie genre deserved some respect in the category that serves as the foundation of its success. 

Objectionable Nominations:

  • Visual Effects: ‘Christopher Robin’

I’m going to get right to the point; the visual effects in this movie are terrible. Who thought that it was a good idea to make Winnie the Pooh a real, talking, pale Teddy Bear in a dimly lit movie for children? The color palate of this film doesn’t allow children to fully experience the excitement of having their teddy bear come to life. The movie is a combination of grey, brown, tan, and the occasional green or red which dilutes the colorful childish themes at the very core of the film’s premise. It looks like you’re watching the movie through an old window. On top of all of this, the effects are uncanny; watching Pooh speak gets more and more creepy as you watch. This visual style needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes a new trend.

  • Animated Feature Film: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

Let’s play a game. Which one doesn’t belong: ‘Incredibles 2’, ‘Isle of Dogs’, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’, ‘Mirai’, and ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’. The other films nominated have some weight and purpose behind them. ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ is a sequel that panders to the least critical and easiest to please audience ever: toddlers. Not that this is a bad thing, toddlers deserve good movies more than anyone else probably, but is the Academy a bunch of toddlers? What do they see in this movie? The nomination only serves to blur the lines between Hollywood panhandling for money and Hollywood making award worthy art. Even if ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ had no chance against the competition, why did anyone nominate it in the first place?

Well Deserved Wins:

  • Animated Feature Film: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Undoubtedly, this was the easiest win at the 2019 Oscars. Sony pioneered a new art style that awarded so many benefits over traditional animations for action genre films. ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ struck the perfect balance between realism and style that awarded a unique experience for the audience. The movie is an absolute joy to watch and see the amount of work and effort put into each detail. There isn’t much else that I can say that will do this movie justice. You just have to see it for yourself. 

  •  Short Film (Animated): ‘Bao’

There are so few films that will make you laugh, cry, and say “Did she just eat him?!” at the same time. I cannot imagine the amount of intent and thought put into the making of this short. There is such complex emotion and story-telling conveyed through a simple medium in ‘Bao’ that its hard to believe you watched the entire film in under 9 minutes. I felt immense empathy for the mother, I understood her reluctance to let go of her son, yet I felt sympathy for the son as he was ready to make his own life granted his increasing age. As the creators of ‘Bao’ walked the stage to accept their award, I couldn’t help but feel a clash of the residual sadness of my empathy for the mother and the joy of the proud moment.

  • Costume Design, Original Score, and Production Design: ‘Black Panther’

‘Black Panther’ won awards in most of its strongest categories. The production design is, in my opinion, its strongest element. You feel an appreciation for Wakanda, its tribes and by extension Africa. It challenges the common image of Africa that so many Americans wrongfully developed through misrepresentation by the media. There are not many successful attempts to shift public opinion of the continent, but Black Panther did this effortlessly for a new generation. The costume design compliments the production design to show a new take on Afro-Futurism in a decade that has largely forgotten it. The clothing and tribal makeup are what allows me to describe Black Panther as a futuristic perspective of native-African cultures. 

The score by Ludwig Göransson is also a work of art on its own. The themes of the characters and moments are expertly conveyed in a way that is not easy to describe explicitly. Throughout the score traditional African music, Neo-African spins and a clashing twist of contemporary hip-hop/trap that keeps up with the films main themes. There are not many scores that fans casually listen to outside of the film. 

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