As an entertainment news junkie, I’m always excited and curious to see the list of Academy Awards nominees each year. The Oscars are arguably the most prestigious awards in Hollywood, and even being nominated for one is a special honor. However, I also have a confession to make: most years I’ve found that I haven’t seen more than one or two of the best picture nominees, and despite my best efforts, I usually never follow up and see many of the others.
This year, I have seen “Dunkirk,” and I’m excited to see it nominated (I’m also glad to see Christopher Nolan receive a much-deserved best director nomination). I’m also excited by the best picture nomination for “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro’s unconventional monster movie love story, which I’m still hoping to see. And while I don’t normally do horror films, I’ve heard so much about “Get Out” (and I’m intrigued by its best picture nomination) that I may have to follow up and see that one too. However, like most years, I have to scroll down to the bottom of the nominations list — in categories like best visual effects — to find many of my favorite movies of the year.
My lack of Oscar-nominated film viewing is something that always bothers me a little bit each year. As a film fan, should I be watching more of these movies? Oscar-nominated flicks tend to be billed as more serious, “important” films — take that as you will. Big budget blockbusters don’t often make this list, although the “best picture” films certainly can be financially successful. As a film fan, science fiction and superhero films are my favorite genres, and those are the films I tend to see most in theaters. They benefit the most from being watched on as big a screen as possible, whereas smaller dramas are just fine on my smaller TV screen at home, at least for me. Yet I’ve found that by the time some of these types of films get to DVD, I’ve forgotten about them, despite my best intentions, and I’m distracted by newer movies coming out and the increasing number of great TV shows I need to catch up on.
Last year, the Academy Awards broadcast brought in 32.9 million U.S. viewers. Although that’s a big number, it was the smallest Oscar audience since 2008. There could be a variety of reasons for that: the Oscar ceremony is REALLY long and people have many competing entertainment choices these days, thanks to the rise of streaming services. Or perhaps audiences were not as interested in the films nominated that year.
I go back and forth on my feelings about the Academy Awards. Sometimes I feel that the Academy unfairly snubs genre films like science fiction and fantasy, just because they are genre films. I feel that the acting in “Logan” very much deserved some recognition (although it was cool to see this pick up a nom for adapted screenplay). There’s a very real possibility it was (mostly) overlooked just because of the type of film it was. However, some could argue that these genre films get recognition in other ways, namely more buzz, more viewers, and bigger box office grosses.
What I’ve decided on, I think, is that it’s good some of these smaller films get recognition from the Oscars, allowing directors and actors to get some love for quality work that may not be a huge box office success. Still, fans should not be shamed if some of these movies are just not your style. We all have different tastes. It’s also unfair to assume that genre films can’t tackle big issues and themes as well, being both entertaining AND thought-provoking. To me, 2017 was exciting in that we saw some big budget blockbusters take some genuine creative risks; regardless of how you felt about films like “Logan,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “The Last Jedi,” they were undeniably different from what came before.
So, how do you feel about the Academy Awards? Do you try to watch most of the films that are nominated? Do you feel certain types of films are unfairly snubbed?