The month of February is host to Hollywood’s most coveted and star-studded event of the year-The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. Celebrities walk down the prestigious red carpet, veterans basking in the brilliance of their successes while newcomers flock around in expensive gowns and tuxedos, eyes shining with the dream of being nominated in the future. However, looking beneath the glitzy surface, one can’t help but notice the politics and carefully selected patterns visible in the yearly choice of movies, actors and directors.
If the past 84 years were any indication, the movies that usually win the Academy awards are steeped in predictability and contain a truckload of clichés, while meritorious wins are few and far between. An award ceremony that goes on longer than the Lord Of The Rings trilogy combined, the much awaited awards are kept for the end when most people dream of curling up under a warm blanket and falling off to sleep. Apart from that, any slightly observant person will have the ability to notice that the movies that are usually nominated for the Oscar consist of gay men, a war-torn Afghanistan or Iraq, or a loveable character with some sort of mental disability. Forrest Gump, Milk, Hurt Locker, Rain man, Brokeback Mountain, And the most recent Argo, anyone?
Despite the fact that these movies are undoubtedly viewable, some even being good enough to be placed on the average movie lover’s list of top 50 movies to watch, this doesn’t change the fact that brilliant flicks such as Saving Private Ryan have lost out to the more safer option, Shakespeare in Love, in 1998. Ten years later, the trend continues with the highly overrated Slumdog Millionaire sweeping up 8 out of 10 Oscar nominations in 2008. It was indeed a proud moment for India, but considering the fact that there have been so many movies produced about Indians, for Indians and by Indians, one wonders how brilliant this movie would have been if it had been compared to others such as Salaam Bombay. Furthermore, it continues to emphasise strongly on how clichéd the Academy award nominations tend to get, with the stereotypical representation of India as one gigantic slum with loving people who base their lives on fate and destiny.
The Indian hype surrounding the Oscars is no less bizarre when we consider the quality of the movies sent in for review. Paheli, containing some ridiculous mumbo-jumbo about a ghost and his human lover was chosen over more powerful movies like Black in 2006 and Ekalavya, which deserved an award for humanity’s most wasted and boring 3 hours, was sent as India’s official entry for 2007. Regional films don’t even come close to being selected. As movies are also not spared, one does begin to wonder why everything has to have a political element attached to it.
As we sit down to view the much-awaited 85th Annual Academy Awards on the 24th of February, get ready to predict which movie has a chance at winning the prize at the world’s most overrated award ceremony. However, despite all its poorly disguised faults and politicized wins, the board definitely receives credit for its ability to attract the attention of people across the world to celebrate the irresistible power of entertainment.