Left Wanting Moore

It’s a sad state of affairs when death is the best thing that happens to a celebrities career. Stars who have been out of the limelight for years can suddenly generate big bucks for their estate and get the biggest boost to their popularity for a generation. It’s a phenomenon that occurs with music artists especially now that record companies can have a singer’s entire back catalogue available online almost immediately, as well as television stars who can sell countless episodes, DVDs and biographies from beyond the grave. But the trend I would particularly like to address is the nature by which a very popular actor will storm television schedules in the weeks following his or her death.

David Bowie (although not exclusively an actor) is the obvious example. Following his death, every channel at some point alluded to his passing, either with a documentary or one of his films, typically Labyrinth (1986) or The man who fell to Earth (1976). Evidently extremely popular when he was alive and considered a hero by many, it was no surprise that his death had such a profound effect on 2016, and it gave me the opportunity to learn more about him and to watch The man who fell to Earth for the first time. The question I ask myself is whether filling hours of television with programming dedicated to recently deceased stars is an attempt at tribute reflecting popularity or an exploitative cash-in on an unfortunate circumstance.

In truth, it’s probably a bit of both. Television networks depend on viewing figures and whatever their motivations, it’s our behaviour that drives them. This leaves us with three more questions, the first being why do we want to watch films starring the recently deceased.

Earlier this week, the sad news came about the death of Roger Moore, and with that the inevitable discussion about his career as James Bond. One of my colleagues commented that Moore was one of the best Bonds and despite growing up in the period of Pierce Brosnan’s reign as the spy, I too feel that Moore is the quintessential Bond that sums up the Eon series prior to Daniel Craig. Just a few weeks ago, an old James Bond film on the TV would pick up little interest; after all, Bond films are regularly on the small screen and they are all pretty much the same, but now the appeal in Moore’s contribution will be reinvigorated. We can put this down to renewed curiosity as much as sympathy driven nostalgia.

The second question is whether this would be welcomed by the actor. I’m sure they would have preferred to have the extra income (if there is any) whilst still alive although there is the case for provision for their loved ones they leave behind. They also might appreciate the fandom and new popularity whilst alive. Assuming however that the actors will be proud of their most renowned work, they are unlikely to object to their films being shown repeatedly for a few weeks.

Finally, we must ask whether this short-lived focus on a dead icon is beneficial to our small screen viewing. As I’ve already noted, it presents an opportunity for those less familiar with the particular star’s body of work to get more acquainted but why do we have to wait for someone to die before we celebrate their achievement? If there are films worthy of celebration, then surely no excuse is needed to show them on television. Then again, the end of a star’s life is as good a time as any to mark their career, providing we don’t see less of the actor’s work in future. My concern is that an intense obsession with any particular body of work can actually be quite boring when condensed into a short period of time and it might be better to pay tribute to a great actor regularly rather than all at once.

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The future of film awards

warning-sarcasm very long rant edited post

Earlier this month Emma Watson became one of the first recipients of a gender-neutral acting award in a major awards ceremony and it spurred intense debate and some controversy. How could it not when the actress who won “best actor” in a movie role is a prominent self-declared feminist who made her win extra political with her passionate acceptance speech? It would be cynical to point out that by giving this award to this particular actress, the argument that acting acclamation should be attributed to acting ability rather than divided by gender is a bit lost given that the producers of MTV awards clearly have a different agenda from recognising on-screen talent and the results are determined by MTV viewers who are also persuaded by far more than whether Watson’s interpretation of a Disney princess was believable. It would be cynical because there is a very important point to be made about gender in awards ceremonies and a wider discussion to be had about the relevance of the categories we use for recognising on-screen and off-screen talent.

Even beyond gender neutral awards, the categories of the MTV awards differ widely from the Oscars and Baftas, including the coveted ‘best kiss’ and renowned ‘best fight’ award but it’s worth pointing out that a mainstream audience are far more likely to hold strong opinions on these film issues than more technical categories such as ‘sound editing’, ‘costume design’ and ‘best cinematography’, which seem to me to be secondary awards for the Academy to bestow token nominations on films snubbed for ‘best picture’,  ‘best director’ and ‘best editing’. Whilst I don’t dispute the different attributes and the talent recognised by all twenty something award categories at these prestigious award ceremonies, I would argue that a film being a collaborative effort, doesn’t really warrant so many interconnected categories, especially seeing as in most years two or three films tend to scoop nearly all the awards.

At the same time, it would be counterintuitive to argue for less awards as this would result in less recognition of talent and even less diversity in acclaimed films. This is a key argument against gender-neutral acting awards. If you reduce the number of actors who are nominated each year, there will be less recognition for talented male and female actors. So at the very least one new acting category will have to be created. This is what I see as the main reason for the existence of the male/female divide rather than an intent to diminish the role of women in film. The current solution for recognising the wealth of acting talent is to have categories for leading and supporting in both sexes, whilst BAFTA used to separate home grown talent and foreign actors. Whilst the concept of supporting actor is plagued with problems especially in the days of the ensemble cast, it is difficult to come up with an alternative, without shifting any class of actor into a sub-group and robbing them of their shot at the top award.

I completely understand why many are arguing for gender-neutral acting awards. We don’t divide directors or writers on the basis of sex and the skill of acting is broadly the same for men and women. It’s not like certain sports where men often do have an advantage or any other field where both sexes can’t compete on a fair and equal level. But as I’ve already mentioned, these categories exist to fairly divide all actors rather than because there is any inherent difference between the two. It’s not as if anyone thinks the male acting award is any more prestigious than the female equivalent or worth any less to the winners. Best actress is not a runner-up prize or token gesture to the man’s superior acting prize. If however, awards were divided into age, you could see how winning an over sixties award would quickly become a secondary prize, how it would receive less press coverage and gather less interest. Doing so would suggest that the contribution of older actors is somehow less. This isn’t true of gendered awards.

But there are valid reasons for adopting gender-neutral awards. As we move to a modern world that better understands gender dysphoria and where not everyone sees gender as binary, we must adapt even our most traditional and deep-rooted conventions in the name of fairness and acceptance. It is true that the current system allows actors to self-identify as either gender and be entered for any category of their choosing. The same is true for the supporting and leading actor division, meaning that an actor can choose to place themselves in the category they think they have the most chance of winning, despite the amount of time they spend on screen. But what if a male actor who plays a man on screen can submit himself for best actress on no other basis than because he fancies his chances? And what about those who don’t wish to be labelled as either male or female? This is why all acting awards will eventually change, if only to simplify the rules by which an actor male or female can be nominated.

Unfortunately, there is one huge issue that will present itself as soon as this switch is made. Despite high-profile feminists arguing that gender-neutral awards are long overdue, as has been controversially pointed out, such a move would probably cut the number of awards allocated to women. Without, a replacement category it would also cut the number of acting awards for men, but more so for women, who tend to get less lead roles in respected films. This is partly because most writers are men who write films for male audiences but I don’t want to be too hard on my own gender here. The lack of female winners in the best director category has more to do with a sheer absence of female filmmakers in general than a biased panel as some would have you believe. Still, Hollywood certainly does have a lack of diversity problem, that is plainly demonstrated at awards ceremonies, and one that will get worse if the number of categories is slashed.

But this is no good excuse for no overhaul of the current awards system, which needs some serious rethinking. As I discussed in my previous post Oscar bait 2017 there is a huge disconnect between the world of the Oscars and the mainstream view of cinema. This could be partly improved by tinkering with some of the categories and the rules for qualification. I’m afraid I can’t offer any specific suggestions as I wouldn’t know where to begin to devise a film awards ceremony that fairly attributes acclaim to both major studio productions and independent cinema as well as to art films, to academy favourites, to foreign films and of course the mainstream blockbusters that are often snubbed. Having never worked within the professional film industry I couldn’t tell you whether the array of categories recognising the various skills is needed but my hunch is that some of these awards can be amalgamated and that new awards specifically recognising independent cinema and emerging talent could be introduced. As for awards  recognising acting, it is clear to me that gendered awards must and will eventually fade into obscurity and the supporting actor should also go but lost categories must be replaced, perhaps with genre specific awards although I find this unlikely.

Why cry?

 

It seems we love films that make us weep literal tears. Happy tears, sad tears, hard-fought tears, full-on sobbing… we don’t mind. But when the film is over we can leave the characters behind and go back to being happy feeling better for having a good hard cry. It would be mean to begrudge the public a bit of harmless escapism to get out all that angst and emotional build-up with a very forced, artificial, heart-breaking tear jerker that packs a metaphorical punch to the throat and cuts off circulation to the brain, but that’s what I’m about to do.

It’s all well and good having a good cry about two made-up people on the voyage of the Titanic but what about the real one and a half thousand passengers and crew who died due to negligence that was never properly investigated. When we cry during a film, we usually get emotional because we’ve got attached to the main characters and we feel involved in their stories, we even start thinking of them as real, but this allows disaster movies to gloss over hundreds or even thousands of background characters and their plights, even reducing their deaths to mere warnings or distressing action for the protagonists; we feel nothing for their deaths except for how it affects the main characters. The truth is that these films can desensitise us to natural disasters and mass murder, only allowing us to feel upset when it affects us or someone we know directly.

Obviously, not physically crying over mass death and not feeling sorry for the deaths of strangers are two different things, and we can feel emotionally driven to fix a problem without having any personal connection or breaking down in tears. But disaster movies rarely do a good job of promoting good causes and they are far more concerned with making you emotional about fictional elements than real truths. If you are unable to apply the fictional story to the real world or transfer the situation of the characters to your own social network, then the film is just an empty tear-jerker that offers the audience nothing to ponder.

There are lots of tricks to make an audience cry. It’s not just the plot that brings on the tears; its all about music and camera work. This means that you are essentially just being manipulated by the filmmakers into thinking in an emotional way. It’s hard to engage your brain when your heart strings are being pulled so even if there is a serious message to the film, you could find yourself distracted by the emotional rollercoaster that whips you away from reality. And sure, you might be persuaded to donate to a good cause or tell your friends about a sad fact, but you’ve only fallen under the spell of an advert. Lots of emotional appeals use sad stories to get you to donate but they rarely get anyone to engage longterm with a subject or think about the issue for themselves. Like all advertising, films mostly appeal to our emotional brains rather than our sense of logic. We need cinema that makes us think as well as cry.

 

Kids films: who are they for?

very long rant careful-may-contain-spoliers

2016 was a strong year for critically acclaimed kids’ films. Zootopia, Moana, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, The BFG and a few others on the list have all received high praise and strong box office figures. But the reviewers are most definitely adults, a high proportion of the audience were adults, the creators were presumably adults, the biggest fans… well that might vary from film to film, but there is certainly a large adult market for kids’ films.

So what is a kids’ film? It may be unhelpful to categorise films this way but the industry certainly tries to box films like this as they are easier to market with a target audience. Or at least that was the case before Disney decided to go after the Disney renaissance generation, young adults who were under 10 in the 1990s and now love that type of film regardless of their own family status (see my post on reboots). Even those films in the 90s were made with adult audiences in mind. They were enjoyed by the whole family but essentially they were kids’ films. The family film is a bit different; it is suitable for children but aimed at pleasing everyone, whilst the kids’ film was traditionally one that you needed children to accompany you, even if you just fancied the film, simply to avoid awkward looks from parents.

In reality, children do not tend to watch films alone, unlike television programmes where adults can be otherwise occupied, films in my household were always family affairs, and so every film is made with its full audience in mind. But long after the success of Shrek in 2001, Up in 2009 and Toy Story 3 in 2010, there is still a line where kids’ films can be too much like kids’ films and even if you really really fancy it there is for many people an embarrassment about buying a ticket. There is also something dismissive about kids’ films in film criticism; that as long as the kids enjoy it we shouldn’t be too fussed about its failures or inaccuracies. However, if a film is made for adults and children, it should be judged to the same standard that we expect of all good cinema.

The Jungle Book (2016) is an enjoyable film with good cgi and quite nice visuals. It also has a good plot adapted from the original 1967 version and some decent pacing but falls off a bit towards the end. For me it starts to fall apart with King Louie. I can’t object to changing him from an orangutan, as this addition by Disney in 1967 was a bit of a knock to Rudyard Kipling’s books set in India, but I’m not sure changing him to Gigantopithecus solves this issue. Obviously, the film isn’t a realistic depiction of animals in India but for me the inclusion of a prehistoric giant creature knocks the film off course.

Worse still, he starts singing in place of talking. Until this point, the film wasn’t really a musical. The use of music from the original film was clever and more powerful when it was subtle. I was happy with Baloo singing ‘Bare necessities’ quietly as a nod to the film’s predecessor and slightly annoyed when they sang it properly but they just about got away with it. But when they decided to reveal King Louie’s species in a new verse of the song I felt the tone of the film shift jaggedly. It would have been better to keep all the updated songs to the end credits, which is when they worked well. Scarlet Johansson singing ‘trust in me’ was a lovely surprise.

If we are to judge a kids’ film for one thing differently, it should be on the importance of a clear moral message. A good kids’ film prepares children for life in some way. Zootopia (2016) delivers a strong message about inclusiveness and diversity as well as being able to  achieve anything if you put your mind to it, and it does so in a very sweet and relatable way that children can understand and will even make adults think. The moral of The Jungle Book was either ‘don’t be a wolf if you are a human’ or ‘you have to play with fire to be a man’ and whilst I’m not calling it a poor film, I can undoubtedly say that Zootopia is better.

Zootopia seems to be more for kids than The Jungle Book, which would presumably interest the grown up fans of the original version. Zootopia on the other hand had no ready-made fanbase and seeing as it only features brightly coloured animated anthropomorphic animals, you would have thought it would struggle to pull in a non-child non-parent audience. But the film has some great humour for adults and some good rounded characters. I was also impressed with the way it dealt with the anthropomorphism and the animation of the characters.

Still I wouldn’t have made a point about watching either film if I wasn’t a film reviewer. Whilst I enjoyed Up (2009) Frozen (2013) and Finding Dory (2016) I wouldn’t say that they were good films, that they were interesting or groundbreaking or thought-provoking and I don’t think it’s an excuse to say that they are meant for kids, especially when they are not. I’ve seen plenty of these kids’ films that most adults seem to enjoy but making a film enjoyable for adults doesn’t stop kids falling in love with it as well. Since 2002, when the UK board of classification replaced the 12 certificate with 12A, we must now consider the term kids’ film to be even wider, with some action films clearly aiming for the 12A rating to appeal to families as well as adult cinema fans. This again shows that adults and children can enjoy the same films but that most films are thought of as fitting into four boxes; ‘pure kids films’, ‘kids’ films for adults’, ‘family films’ and ‘films kids shouldn’t see’.

Family films include all the Harry Potters, which like the books began as children’s stories, but developed a much greater adult following. This was inevitable I suppose as they spanned such a long time that children grew up in between. It also explains why the spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) was very dark and probably unsuitable for young children. However, this still fits into one of our kids’ film categories; there was no way producers were going to let the film have a higher age-rating and lose out on lucrative family viewing, but it falls on parents to make a judgement on how suitable this film is for young viewers.

The special effects are amazing and much of the film is spectacle rather than tense thriller but there are some nasty bits and the death is pretty brutal so I wouldn’t say this kids’ film is suitable for kids. This is the problem we have with making cinema for kids. On the one hand we have films that adults dismiss as being for kids and on the other we have films that should be for adults that sneak into PG13 or 12A. Somewhere in the middle there are popular kids’ films that are targeted at adults as much as children, and we still let them off criticism for being “for kids”.

The continuation of the universe

expanding-universe

read-at-your-own-peril

I have to admit I’m a little bit on the fence when it comes to the phenomenon of the cinematic universe, which peeves me because I usually have strong opinions one way or the other. In not being able to work out whether I approve of this form of filmmaking, I’ve discovered a greater annoyance than any horrible trend in cinema. To be clear, I’m mainly referring to superhero films (although not exclusively so), which create a whole universe in which many other films take place, differing from a conventional series of films (such as James Bond or Pirates of the Caribbean) in that they involve several story arcs, shifting between main characters and even different styles from film to film, and also differing from typical past crossovers (such as Alien Vs Predator and King Kong Vs Godzilla) in that they are far more complex than merging two pre-existing popular series, in that all the films are considered within continuity by the producers, in that all films are considered to be of equal importance and that it is almost impossible to view any film separately.

I’m referring to both the Marvel cinematic universe and the X-men universe, which despite being originally created by Marvel has established its own separate continuity, mostly due to the rights of who owns which characters. Now you may say that the X-men series doesn’t count as a cinematic universe because with the exception of Deadpool, each film follows the development of the X-men characters, but in fact the story arcs of the young x-men and the modern day group of mutants are entirely separate but interwoven stories also entwining with the stories of Wolverine and Deadpool. And the series works in the same way as the Avengers in that by having an ensemble cast it allows individual films to focus on certain characters, whilst tying the film together with crossover characters, allowing several films to come out rapidly one after another, guaranteeing hits without exhausting any single plot line.

Rogue one is the latest example of transforming a successful franchise, in this case Star Wars, into a cinematic universe concept, again creating a guaranteed box office smash, whilst allowing the other cast of this universe to work on a different film and not exhausting the plot started with The Force Awakens too early. The advantages for money hungry studios are obvious but there’s no denying that the three universes mentioned thus far are producing brilliant films. Has this anything to do with the characteristics of a cinematic universe or are they simply good films in their own right (albeit with one hell of a budget to make sure that’s the case)? Sequels have always been worth big bucks but very few are admired more than their original films and yet each film in a well constructed film universe adds to the overall fandom of the series, allowing super-fans to obsess over a series in place of a single film; it’s almost as if it’s so hard to separate each strain of the franchise that the series becomes one long, super-film with several plots and multiple filmmaking styles. I also find myself enjoying the pleasures of an origin story whilst watching a film that is not limited to an origin story; it has a story arc by itself, and I enjoy the interconnectivity without the repetitive feeling that I’m watching a sequel.

Of course there are many disadvantages to producing films in this way; see the video below by Bobby Burns. I haven’t touched on all the poorly made universes. You should have heard by now but spoiler alert, M. Night Shyamalan based his newest film Split in the same universe as Unbreakable and for me that is toxic to both films. The idea that he might create a third film based around some odd phobia of disabled people and undo the fantastic ambiguity of Unbreakable, transform the superhero film that isn’t a superhero film into an origin story and take the few good points about Split and shatter them to make a super-villain is actually quite upsetting. If you transform any stand alone film or series into a cinematic universe you surely have to be careful not to ruin the original film since the days where you could ignore the crossover continuity, (the non-canon) or write a sequel that completely contradicted the events of whichever film was the weak link, are for better or worse disappearing (even if films are not real and therefore don’t need to make sense at all)

But the reason why I can’t make up my mind about cinematic universes has little to do with the films themselves and more to do with the greater context. Tomorrow is my first chance to see Logan, the newest addition to the X-men universe. The film looks great and going on the last few releases from the franchise I would enjoy it to at least some extent but I still haven’t seen X-men Apocalypse and I have no idea how much this film plays as a sequel. This is the danger with all cinematic universes in that if you watch them out of order you must be leaving yourself open to spoilers even with films that follow an entirely different story arc. We’ve already established that the film producers are using this technique to make lots of money, even to the point of trying to force new instantly popular franchises without laying any ground work, and are currently churning out sequels at a rate of money-swallowing terror. If you can’t afford constant trips to the cinema, you’re likely to miss at least one crucial moment in the history of the universe (yes that universe) and the DVD is only just beating the next instalment to release. X-men films have been released in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009… 2011, 2013, 2014… and two in 2016.

So even if I love many of these new superhero films I can’t help but feel the market is saturated or would be if not for the fact they are all smaller parts of one bigger movie. And I see these big movies squeezing out the independent (in both senses of that word) films and creating monopolies of storytelling. But I can’t help but feel a bit excited when I see the next instalment, especially Star Wars.

Based on true events

With the release of Patriots Day, a film about the real-life Boston marathon bombing of 2013, I would like to say something about ‘Based on true events’ films. This is the second Mark Wahlberg film in 6 months based on a real life tragedy that occurred in very recent memory. I can’t help but feeling it is very manipulative and in poor taste to monetise tragedies within living memory. It is a very safe and relatively lazy way of coming up with money-making films that also happens to exploit the ill-fated and recently bereaved. I’m not saying that it can’t be done tastefully and I haven’t yet seen Patriots Day but the very idea of selling tickets on the emotional connection to a tragic event is in my view objectionable.

There is a long history of film inspired by true events. Note the words ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘depicting’ or ‘showing’. There is a great difference between factual drama, documentary and films based on true events. Whilst all films change events slightly for the sake of entertainment, the degree of truth and the malevolence the film gets away with is variable. Factual dramas always change something because concepts of pace, tension, believability, simplicity and dialogue don’t run in real life the same way they fit into a screenplay. For example, when you receive bad news in real life, it usually comes in slow and painful stages with most of the conflict played out internally but in films the audience need a noticeable meaningful reaction that sums up the protagonists emotional response. Even documentaries have to recreate events and stage scenes to depict the overall truth about the subject matter because a camera cannot always capture the full reality of a situation occurring in real time.

However, the BOTE film values entertainment over truth and will openly change things to make the story ‘better’. In Patriots Day, I’ve already discovered that Wahlberg’s character is a composite of several people, which makes the film much easier to package and makes it easier to write a coherent screenplay, but it also means that whilst Patriots Day may be a decent tribute to real people it is not an accurate depiction of that day or respectful to those who lived it. BOTE films don’t always have to be respectful to true events but when the event is so recent and sensitive subject matter there is a duty to cover the event accurately.

In 2011, a less sensitive and more historical story was rewritten in Anonymous, the film starring Rhys Ifans, which suggested the plays of Shakespeare were in fact written by Edward de Vere, a genius Earl and lover of the virgin queen. Now the film was attacked for its treatment of facts and unconvincing attempt to rewrite history, however I found it enjoyable and it inspired me to look into the real history, so I would not call it exploitative of real events or insensitive to truth and history. Quite clearly the film is only BASED on true events and whilst those involved may be trying to suggest something, it’s not cynical or lying to make a profit. When BOTE films pick on moments from history they risk spreading factual inaccuracies as de facto knowledge since people remember historical characters from film before history class. But as there will always be some mistakes and some changes for convenience, it is not the responsibility of the makers of BOTE films to make sure their films are educational.

So when you go and watch Patriots Day or Deepwater Horizon or another ‘true story’, you should be inspired to check the real story behind the film, but of course these are not historical figures. They are real people whose lives probably aren’t as interesting because they are normal people who faced extraordinary circumstances. And these films are not set up to encourage the truth, quite the opposite. BOTE films used to tell little known stories like Erin Brockovich and Catch me if you can. There are still surprising untold stories out there as proven by the recent release Hidden Figures, which tells a slightly fictionalised version of an important story we should have heard long ago. These films may bend the truth but they encourage you to find out more. Unfortunately, the newest trend for BOTE films seems to be for stories that we are all very familiar with, such as Sully and Patriots Day and no matter how respectful they are and no matter how good they are, this trend worries me deeply.

Oscar bait 2017

The Academy Awards are nearly upon us. It seems like something a cinema blog shouldn’t be able to ignore. But what do these awards even mean to a British audience?

The BAFTA awards are supposed to be the eloquent British way of recognising achievement in the entertainment industry, but instead the film awards ceremony has become the warm-up act and precursor/indicator for the more prestigious Academy Awards or ‘Oscars’ as they are more likely to be identified. Whilst the BAFTA television awards usually reads as a recognisable list of programmes and personalities that the British public  find identifiable and accessible, the films list is often seen as pretentious, biased, boring and predictable, so indeed the perfect emulator for the Oscars?

Due to the fact that films are often released in the UK a few months after the US and that the films made with Oscar nominations in mind, which also happen to be the films most likely to receive nominations, are all released towards the end of the year, the British public are left with very little time to see these acclaimed films, so a list of nominees usually leaves Brits outside of professional critics and ardent film fans scratching their heads. The sheer expense of watching these films (if you discount illegal methods) means that Oscar bait season, where critically acclaimed films briefly flood cinema screens, is completely wasted on the public, even if it turns out to be tremendously successful in obtaining nominations at various awards.

Oscar bait are specifically released, marketed and then lobbied all with the intention of winning awards whilst often irritating and alienating the public. Films are usually made for their audience but with Oscar bait there is a very particular kind of person who their producers were thinking of and they are not usually in line with general cinema lovers. There are some great films included in the nominations this year but you will notice that the same films reoccur in every category and only a handful have any chance of winning the most prestigious of these prestigious awards. La la land is a huge favourite, simply because it is a film about Hollywood, a love letter to the industry itself, quite pompous and self-indulgent and certified by those in the Hollywood bubble and of course BAFTA. Some ordinary members of the public enjoy it but many more find it tedious, slow and over-rated.

There seems to be a disconnect between the Academy Awards club and the general audience on both sides of the pond in a similar way to how art films and mainstream cinema are divided. For the common uninitiated audience these are all films for someone else, too difficult or too slow, part of a different culture to which they are alienated. Even if they have seen and enjoyed one or two films on the nominations list, the omission of their favourites and the likelihood of their preferred nomination winning, mean that the Oscars feels derisive; demeaning to their common tastes and incredibly pretentious. This is made even more annoying by the well-acclaimed but incredibly popular films we saw last year that were omitted for what can only seem like snobbery. Deadpool for example would have been many people’s choice for the best film of last year but isn’t nominated in any category, while Rogue one and Dr Strange get mentions in minor categories.

Certain genres and styles of cinema have always been preferred by the academy but never has the gap between popular and Oscar seemed so wide as in recent years. If the Academy continues to snub, whilst the film industry concentrates on either winning awards or making money, then the divide between mainstream popular cinema and recognised high quality cinema will deepen.