Oscar Talk: Straight Outta Contention

Posted by: Michael Walkey  //  January 17, 2016 @ 5:13pm

Filed under: Walkey Talk

How do you really know if a movie actually gets snubbed? Isn't art subjective? If so, then wouldn't the "snubs" the Academy is guilty of be just a matter of personal taste?

At the end of every year, critic groups from major North American cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Boston name their Best Pictures. Other groups follow suit: the National Film Board, American Film Institute, and major publications like Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly unveil their "Best of" lists. Then industry guilds nominate their bests of various crafts: acting, writing, directing, etc.

All one has to do is take a look at those lists and see which names show up the most.

Although no list was identical, you'd see each one had some combination of the same 12-15 films. The titles that showed up the most were: Spotlight, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, The Big Short, and Carol. It was acceptable to assume these films as "favourites" for Best Picture nominations. The group of titles to show up the second most were: Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Straight Outta Compton, Room, and Beasts of No Nation. These film should have been considered "bubble" films meaning they probably had a 50-50 shot at a nod. Finally, Creed, Sicario, Ex Machina, and Star Wars appeared on these lists the least, earning them "long shot" chances.

By that explanation, it appears the biggest snub this year was not Straight Outta Compton, but Carol, Todd Haynes's meticulously crafted lesbian love story. But you wouldn't know from the public outcry. Sometimes it's just a matter of which community shouts the loudest.

It's unfortunate all the blame is going to the Academy for not having diverse enough nominees. Because realistically, the Academy Award nominations are just a reflection of Hollywood in general. The real blame should be placed on Hollywood studios for not releasing more ethnically or culturally diverse films.

Much of the outcry surrounded three films in particular: Straight Outta Compton, Creed, and Beasts of No Nation.

Three movies! Out of the hundreds of films released last year, only three movies that had a predominantly black cast had any kind of Oscar buzz. And Beasts of No Nation was a Netflix movie!

Unless more films about black culture or starring black actors get green lit, then I'm afraid nothing about the Oscars will change.

It's trendy right now to hop on the social media backlash bandwagon but those who do should be careful where they direct their blame because the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag should really read: #Hollywoodsowhite.

I knew Straight Outta Compton only had an outside chance at a Best Picture nomination. It's a flawed film but an important one about an untold story of American history, so I was really hoping it would sneak in there.

Considering so few films of this content get released, it's an achievement alone that the film even got made. I share the frustration and pain about the Oscar snub. But I don't fret, because as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu said upon winning the Golden Globe for Best Director this year: "Pain is temporary, but film is forever."

Tags: Walkey Talk, Academy Awards, Oscars, Straight Outta Compton, #OscarsSoWhite, Carol, Beasts of No Nation, Creed

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