Oscars 2015: to love or to hate?

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Oscars 2015

 

Hollywood awards ceremonies: To love or to hate?This is a question which changes unfailingly depending on one’s mood.

The circus pomp of Hollywood is grotesque, but we still revel in seeing the faces of beloved movie characters gathered in one setting. The denotation of awards seems completely unfair and biased, yet we still gleefully await the results to compare them to our own preferences.

The vain fanfare of fashion and inevitable tabloid eruption is a serious turn-off to any self-respecting person. Yet, each of us has some personal connection with at least a few movies every year, so we feel obligated in that sense to watch and hope for recognition.

If you did happen to watch this year, you will have noticed a striking change in the sentiment of the ceremony. The all too common aloofness that typically accompanies the show was replaced by a mature sense of self-awareness. Hollywood typically tries to cover up the uncomfortable characteristics of its existence, feigning a façade of perfection on all accounts.

Yet, there were too many issues with this year’s ceremony for the participants to neglect. First, there was the pre-evaluated “whiteness” of the nominees. Nearly all of the major categories were saturated with Caucasian contenders, making little to no strides in racial or sexual diversity.

The Oscars decided to step up in 2015 and address the issues. By far the best advocate for authenticity, host Neil Patrick Harris led a self-satirizing dialogue throughout the night:

“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest… sorry, brightest.”

Neil Patrick Harris was instrumental in a setting a mood of banter and playfulness. When one recipient took the stage in an odd dress with hanging furry round things, Harris improvised a gag mentioning that “it takes a lot of balls to wear that dress.”

Then there were the more serious issues. “Selma”, the powerful Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, was entirely overlooked in nominations for Best Director for Ava DuVernay and Best Actor for David Oyelowo. We may never know why the Academy made such decisions, but the ceremony had many redeeming moments.

John Legend and Common performed the mainstay Selma song “Glory”. The brilliant performance warranted tears from more than one audience member. It then went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song. John Legend took this opportunity to make a much needed plug: “We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world.”

Other winners followed suit, each driving home a personal effort to raise awareness of social issues. Upon winning for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette made her own moving appeal: “We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the Unites States.”

Best Actress winner Julianne Moore used her speech to address the dire state of Alzheimer’s disease. Terrence Howard gave a heart-warming tribute to Alan Turing (as depicted by Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”), pushing the travesty of persecution for sexual orientation to the forefront. Graham Moore, screenplay adapter for the “The Imitation Game”, delivered a personal message to all the outcasts in society who struggle with depression and suicidal tendencies.

Finally, “Birdman” triumphed by taking home awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. The Hispanic director humorously commented that the Academy awarded “two Mexicans in a row – that’s suspicious, I guess.” Innaritu demonstrated that success, art and genius aren’t exclusive to white males.

The impression of this year’s awards initially appeared to be one of cliché and white-male dominated conservatism. Yet, the culmination became just the opposite. The underdogs made their presence known, each winner a visionary with a significant and personal memorandum. Hollywood may have it’s tendencies, but ultimately, the authenticity of film’s expression is inalienable and absolute.

 

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