From an outer look, the Oscars are meant to reward the best films of the years. However, the reality of the matter is that many other factors are considered as well.
When film critic Thelma Adams is asked by media personnel whether the “Oscars pick the best films”, he quickly answers “God, no. that is a very simple answer.”
The Oscar voters have awarded many performances and they undoubtedly deserved, but there are times we’ve had to look back and questioned, BBC.
Some of the most recent controversies include Birdman (best picture, 2015) and Crash (best picture, 2006), which many viewed as dodgy choices. These were chosen over the epic Boyhood and bold cowboy relationship drama Brokeback Mountain respectively.
By keenly analyzing the best picture award issued within the past two decades, you will appreciate that indeed the Oscars is not all about being the top-ranked movie annually.
Metacritic is a site developed to rank a film based on the reviews made by film critics. This is one of the trusted ways of determining the actual rank of a movie.
Metacritic Movie Ranking
The site shows that from 1996 to 2016:
- 12 Years a Slave (2013) was the best rated picture movie, getting a 96/100 score
- Boyhood (2014) enjoyed an 100/100 score as the best picture nominee
- Gladiator (2000) got a 64/100 worst-rated winner
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) had a worst rated nominee of 46/100
Thus we can safely say that the Oscar winners just don’t focus on being the best movie of the year. But again the critics are as biased as the Oscar voters.
Most of the American critics are white and gauge the movies through a very professional, educated class that is attributed to the white, says Thelma Adams.
What’s the way forward then?
But what metrics can we then use to award films?
Going the Box office way may be dangerous. Yes, it is democratic but what about quality?
Then there is also the IMDB rankings that rate a movie based on how fans are voting for it.
The Internet Movie Database, IDMB, asserts that The Shawshank Redemption released in 1994 is the best movie ever. However, this has never won the Oscars.
So going back home with the Oscars has to do with Buzz and momentum.
It comprises of 7,000 voters emanating from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Most of these votes are held at bay until the last two weeks before the ceremony launches thus everything is dependent on what has dominated discussions at that particular time.
It also focuses on crowning an actor or actress who is living in his “time”. That explains why Emma Stone managed to overcome all her seasoned competitors on Sunday.
This is best described by Sasha Stone when she says the Oscars are all about “Miss Right Now”.
Take a look at the story of Martin Scorsese who failed to win any Oscar for his three hit productions – GoodFellas (1990’s), Raging Bull (1980’s) and Taxi Driver (1976’s). He finally won through his 2006 The Departed.
Well, The Departed does not come anything close to beating the named films but to his surprise it got him an award. The same can be said for Leonardo DiCaprio who won last year through The Revenant last year after being nominated four consecutive times.
Are there campaigns in the Oscars?
Yes, just like in any given election.
The artists organize for talk shows; they charm at other award ceremonies and schmooze Academy members at functions.
But the problem is that people do not realize that the Oscars are actually political. Smear campaigns are done on the run up to get the money at stake.
The voters themselves are racially and gender biased. 89% of the Academy members are white while 73% compose of male. This is an area that has been criticized for long and the Academy makes effort to diversify its membership.
The average winning age for women is mid-thirties while the men in their mid-forties.
We are not suggesting the voters are prejudice but the composition may explain some of the most recent controversies facing the Oscars.