Some thoughts about Oscar trends

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Postby Hustler » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:42 pm

Having seen True Grit I am starting to think that the Coens movie could be the dark horse this year.

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Postby Hustler » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:41 pm

First of all I am terribly happy with Sundance influence every year on the Oscars. As for Uri´s comments I have to disagree parcially on this. I find that actresses are having big difficulties in getting major roles lately as the big companies are reducing their offer planning just to release big commercial movies performed by men. This black hole was compensated by the indies with more creative and risky lead roles for women.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:53 pm

Yeah, my first thought when seeing this was that it's the Sundance influence. Frozen River, Winter's Bone and similar films first attract attention at Sundance. Want to blame someone for the trend, blame the Sundance booking agents. That's where the problem begins with all those second and third tier who have to be the first to proclaim the greatest new American film or whatever slogan they're currently using. By the time the films open, anyone who disagrees with the initial assessment is deemed a film illiterate and the legend grows, culminating in year-end critics awards and inevitable Oscar nominations.

But trends change, and if The King's Speech is the new standard, expect a glut of inspirational and pseudo-inspirational films to follow to the point where you'll be longing for more "realistic" films where everything ends with sliver of hope if not outright despair.
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:09 pm

I'd add to your interesting observation, Uri, that it's probably easier for the female filmmakers involved here (with Winter's Bone and Frozen River) to get funding by combining some of the favorite topics of the Sundance community -- the deprivations of rural life, and the diminished status of women in American society. This is almost indie high-concept, and I believe these films are viewed as political by the funders and festivals -- though, in reality, the subject matter covered is so safe-to-speak-about that it has no political resonance except for those who want their prejudices stroked.

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Postby Damien » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:28 pm

Very intreresting and compelling observations, Uri. And I'm 100% with you on Fish Tank and its lead actors being preferable to the Winters Bone and its duo. But Fish Tank is raw and volatile, Katie Jarvis is not conventionally pretty and her character is not saintly like Lawrence's (just compare their relationships to younger siblings).
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Postby Uri » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:09 am

So I saw Winter's Bone last night. And I think I spotted a kind of an Oscar trend of recent years. I'd call it The National Geographic Slot. Strangely – but not really - it's most apparent in the best actress race. This year it's WB, last year it was Precious, the year before that Frozen River and we also had Maria Full of Grace. These films are all about poor, peripheral (from a p.o.v. of the members of the Academy, and let's face it, from that of most of us too) communities. And they center on a female protagonist, preferably young, who's the victim of the circumstances. There are no male centered equivalents, and it's not accidental. When confronted with these kinds of social representations, having a female character as the lead allow the viewer to be in a comfortable, superior state. Women, like children, are allowed to succumb to such environmental and social circumstances without losing our sympathy. Men are expected to act, therefore can be perceived as a treat and if they don't they are losers. In either case, they won't be nominated for an Oscar. A male weakling can, at best, be featured in the supporting category, never as a lead. And it has a lot to do with the fact that all these films mentioned here are inexplicitly non political, hence the use of female protagonists – with women it's all about the human interest, not issues and ideas, isn't it? On the one hand, this old fashioned, seemingly non interventional, documentary-like approach is respected as serious and on the other it allows actors to be celebrated for their thespianism. In European cinema, there are a vast amount of such films - the Dardennes or Ken Loach are obvious names one can think of - and the political, social and wider cultural context is far more apparent in most of them. And unsurprisingly this kind of cinema is rarely if ever being celebrated by the politically shy Academy. And while I find WB to be a tad better than the other films mentioned her, I'd still prefer the more angry, therefore less safe Fish Tank, for example, to be likely recognized. (And by the way, while Lawrence and Hawkes are fine, Jarvis and Fasebender would have made for even better nominees).

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