As I write this on Thursday, January 15, 2015, the Twitter hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite is making its rounds on several timelines. The 2015 Academy Award nominations were released this morning and of course there are some upset that their favorite films were not considered for a gaudy statute. Some of the tweets have been hilarious, some have been truthfully accurate, and some have been both. Months after the Grammy Award nominations were released; Black Twitter is in an uproar again over the lack of nominations for people of color. Once again, people feel that outdated major committees give validation for liking a specific movie.
Awards/nominations do not take anyway away from personal feelings about art. Art is subjective; there is no definite “yes” or “no” answer to how it is supposed to make you feel. I can name so many of my favorite artists (music and films) that never receive any significant credit from critics or hardware from awards shows. They are still my favorites because they connect with me on days when I need a laugh, distraction, or some direction in my life. One of my favorite directors, Kevin Smith, is self aware of his opposition with critical and box office acclaim. Even I put his 2014 film Tusk on my worst films of the year list, but he knows that his impact is more than what is just on screen. The biggest accomplishment of the film was its origin. The plot came from a discussion Smith and his producer/friend Scott Mosier had on an episode of their weekly podcast, Smodcast. The more they talked about the fake news story and developed a backstory, the more he thought about actually creating a film based around this crazy thought of a man renting a room in his house to anyone that will wear a Walrus outfit. He uploaded the episode and asked the listeners to use the hashtag, #WalrusYes if they want to see the project get made. The movie was created and through the miracle of social media and several of his following episodes of his podcast, we saw the development over the course of a few months from script, on set production, and finally in theaters nationwide. The execution was not his best work, but you still have to commend him for creating something from nothing.
Selma is a film that many people believed would not get made. Think about this: The 2014 Oscars featured biopics about an addict on Wall Street during the late 1980’/early 90’s, a gay drug dealer in Texas during the mid 1980s, FBI agents and con artists in the 70’s, and lastly a film about a freeman turned slave for 12 years. Notice the difference in timelines for a biopic about a Black man; they’re nearly two centuries apart. It’s 2015 and one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time is just now getting a major motion picture. This year, we have a biopic about a sniper that died in 2013, Stephen Hawking (No complaint there.), a World War II scientist trying to crack the Nazi codes (World War movies are always being made), and a film about peculiar philanthropist supporting a wrestling team in the 1980/90’s. I’m appreciative that I got to see this portrayal in theaters and that the man, the supporters and my Mom’s small hometown got recognition instead of forgotten in the history books. Notorious B.I.G. is one of my favorite rappers of all time, but I still feel some kind of way when I think about him getting a biopic before Martin Luther King Jr., but back to the topic. Chadwick Boseman has given amazing performances in two biopics, but has never seen an Oscar nomination in his career yet. The Academy does not give him validation for his talent or being my choice for a lead actor.
Let’s look at whom we do have representing diversity: Selma is nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song with, “Glory” by Common and John Legend, my top underrated film of last year, Beyond The Lights‘ “Grateful” is nominated for Best Original Song. Sadly, instead of Selma director, Ava DuVernay, becoming the first Black female director nominated for an Oscar, she is the ninth female director to not be nominated for Best Director, but have her work nominated for Best Picture. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is the first Mexican director to be nominated for Best Director with one of my favorite films from last year, Birdman. A platinum album or Grammy award does not mean you are a musical genius, just because someone got Employee of the Month, does not mean that a certain person is the best one on the job. Appreciate the effort of a film being made and the final result of the film once the end credits roll, not when the nominations are announced and the envelopes are opened.