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And the Academy Award goes to…

By Emily Cortes

February is award show season and the Oscars are one of the most highly anticipated ones due to the controversy surrounding its acceptance of minorities in film. This year, the Academy Awards Committee chose to go host-less again after the success of previous award shows. 

Viewers have their predictions on who will take home the golden trophy in the major categories, including best actor and actress, best director, and of course, best picture. The film 1917, directed by Sam Mendes, was a front runner for two major categories and one minor category. 

Aesthetically and visually, 1917 was expected to do well by speculators, but when it comes to a compelling story line, Joker appealed to a broader audience. Joaquin Phoenix was praised for his role as The Joker, and the movie had social media talking. The story introduced the conversation of mental health and how to be more socially aware of how it impacts nearly half of the U.S. population. Phoenix was yet to win an Oscar throughout his acting career, and, rightfully so, he ended the night as the Academy’s best actor of 2020.

When the Oscar nominees were released on Jan. 13, 2020, there of course was outrage and backlash due to some films being ignored. Historically, the Academy consisted of a white, male panel which reflected in the nominations and winners. Many people thought that the Oscars were becoming more progressive and inclusive, but after the release of nominees, many fear that the Academy is reverting back to its old ways. 

This regression was disrupted after the Korean made film, Parasite, had a clean sweep in the best picture category, best director category, as well as best foreign film category. This is a major milestone for the Academy because Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is the first non-english language film to win Best Picture. This film also won best original screenplay and best foreign language film. By winning best foreign language film and best picture, it unites the entire audience watching the Oscars, and all the viewers who resonated with the films. English language films aren’t the only form of media that influences the globe. 

Specifically, no female directors were nominated this year and only one actor out of the twenty that were nominated is a person of color. 

April Reign, the lawyer who initiated the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” back in 2015 stated to CBS News that, “It’s always been about who is telling the story and whose story is being told,”Reign said. “The Academy has things that they can do to improve but Hollywood as a whole needs to step up.” There are films, documentaries, and animated pictures that explain unique stories with diverse actors, but the Hollywood standard has yet to become more inclusive. 

In reality, a small panel of people is not the voice of a nation. The decisions they make can’t  account for the opinions of all the viewers who spent nearly twenty dollars on a movie ticket to see the screening. If we watched the Oscars with the idea that it’s a celebration of the hard work and creativity of all people who contribute to media and film production, the winners wouldn’t matter as much. It’s difficult to crown a winner in a game without definitive rules and objectives.

Emily Cortes can be reached at emily.cortes@spartans.ut.edu

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