Article by: Akshay Sharathchandra
As the month of February and the winter season come to a close, another important period of the year has culminated: awards season. Opening on January 7th with the 40th People’s Choice Awards and ending on February 23rd with the 87th Academy Awards – also known as The Oscars – this packed season was full of controversial snubs, inspiring speeches, and red-carpet head turners (as always). Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an Oscar is now considered one of the most prestigious awards for “excellence in Cinematic Achievements” all over the world.
The buzz that always accompanies the event was clearly seen in the awarding of Best Picture. Nominee American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, received over $400 million in less than 2 months in the North American box office alone, grossing more than all other nominees combined. Thus, many were surprised when Birdman, starring Michael Keaton, was given the award instead.
In fact, despite being a fan favorite, American Sniper only received one of the six awards it was nominated for. On the other hand, Birdman received four of the eight Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay. As a result, Twitter users erupted with posts claiming American Sniper was majorly snubbed. However, others believe that the Academy is trying to draw the line between good movies and popular movies, especially in recent years. The 2014 Academy Awards received similar reactions when 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture despite the greater box office success of its competitors, Gravity and American Hustle.
Logically, doing so well in The Oscars would greatly increase box office numbers and general awareness of indie films like Birdman. Sophomore Juliana Antonio states, “For an indie film to win big at the Oscars, it’d have to be a pretty darn amazing indie film”. She believes it’s great that lower-budget films that may otherwise be overlooked are gaining viewers. Similarly, sophomore Jiwon Cyhn is happy that unknown films are receiving recognition because they can offer non-cliché morals and themes. “It’s time for good movies with ‘deep’ meanings”, Jiwon claims.
Clearly, the Academy does not always vouch in favor of more popular movies. However, constant nods to less-publicly known films could end up decreasing Oscar viewers as many would probably prefer to see films they have seen win. Nothing’s perfect and The Oscars are no exception. Although it offers a great showcase of talent, it may also disappoint the public.