The Oscars 2022: What’s the point?

Ryan Hill, Contributing Writer

It’s that time of year again when Hollywood’s elites praise each other for how much money they are able to put into the film that they want to win an award. In all seriousness, Oscar awards season is an incredibly enthralling time of year that can simultaneously aggravate and delight dozens of film fan bases across the world. These awards have the tendency to evoke a sense of controversy for one reason or another — whether that be an announcer for best picture reading the wrong announcement card, or certain actors not winning or being nominated leading to a predominantly or entirely white category — and it almost wouldn’t be a true Oscars without one of the two happening. At the end of the day, what is the result of all of this distaste? The result is a lackluster display of ratings and a set of winners that often doesn’t accurately reflect the past year in films at all. It doesn’t please me to write about the Oscars in such a critical light; I love movies, and I try to see as many of the largest and most well-reviewed films of each year. In fact, I think now more than ever the film industry is thriving and essentially overflowing with content that caters to nearly every audience. So why must I be so negative around Oscar season? Put simply, the Oscars have entirely lost their sense of purpose for general audiences, and often only exist to serve the artsiest and niche films that most audiences won’t even see — let alone enjoy.

When you think about the last year of movies, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, you might think of the sheer amount of record-breaking superhero films that came out this year, especially “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” You might be thinking about the number of great live-action movie musicals to be released this year, like “In the Heights,” “West Side Story” and “Tick Tick…Boom!”. Or perhaps you’re thinking of large-scale sci-fi epics like “Dune.” Now, how many of these films do you see nominated in the big categories this year? “West Side Story received some recognition, but mega-director Steven Spielberg was leading the project. Some of the larger-scale films like “Dune were given a lot of praise, but it also had an all-star Hollywood cast. The pattern is clear within these awards. Most of these films, while most of them possessing great qualities are attached to some of the largest stars in the world while these categories also reject some of the largest blockbusters of the year like “Spider-Man  just for being different. It’s a running joke for many average filmgoers that they haven’t seen more than half of the films nominated for Best Picture, so why is it that many times the most popular films of the year don’t even get nominated?

Many critics will argue that only the best and most artistic films will be the ones nominated, but apart from a few exceptions, most of those artistic films feature at least one large named actor in a starring role while films that are just as good with a less-recognizable cast won’t get nominated. Of course, there are always outliers and departures from the formula, but it feels as though these awards are trying to stay relevant by committing to showing the same directors and actors every time they do something in Hollywood while refusing to accept and embrace a new and bright era of filmmaking. Like I said at the beginning, film has never been more diverse in terms of genre and scale, so award shows like the Oscars should seek to welcome audiences who feel alienated by the same types of films winning every year, and this is coming from someone who appreciates the art of film and most of the films nominated this year. It’s time for the Oscars to either evolve or just go away.

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