ZB

Francesca Rudkin: Are the Oscars still relevant?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Mar 2022, 11:12am
(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

Francesca Rudkin: Are the Oscars still relevant?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Mar 2022, 11:12am

Tomorrow afternoon, at 1pm, the 94th Annual Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, will air on TVNZ2.  

Every year I ask myself if the Oscars, and all the other award shows that make up the ‘Awards Season’, are still relevant? Do they have a place, or is it just an opportunity for celebrities to fawn over each other and make ‘woke’ speeches?    

Yes, and yes.    

One of the main criticisms of the Oscars, regarded as the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry, is whether the nominated films are actually the best films of the year or ones that merely reflect the Academy’s love of the mainstream and worthy.   

It’s more likely the latter. But imagine trying to compare the many different styles, genres and budgets of films – it’s not easy.   

Then there is the question of whether the most deserving recipient wins? This is a debate over any awards ceremony, but the lead up to the Oscars is a little like a presidential campaign – and there are many factors that can sway Academy members and the way they vote.   

So, does the most deserving always win – the answer is no.   

Regardless of whether the Oscars are the perfect judge of what’s best or not, as a lover of movies, I can’t help but get a touch excited and intrigued about how it’s all going to unfold.   

That’s because there is a place for the Oscars. They are an entertainment event, a wonderful distraction from the real world, and an opportunity to celebrate filmmakers at the top of their game.   

The craft and storytelling on show is incredible and those responsible deserve to be respected and honoured by their peers. It’s great to see The Power of the Dog leading the way with an incredible 12 nominations, but also no surprise. The New Zealand film industry is world-class.   

The other cool thing is the Oscars don’t just celebrate the celebrity faces in these films, but the visual effects, makeup and hairstyling, production design and sound teams, just to name a few, who contribute to transporting us to different times and places.   

This is why the decision this year to remove 8 awards from the live program, (they will be filmed before the show, and edited into the televised event) has been so controversial. James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Jessica Chastain have come out against the changes, they appreciate more than most that filmmaking is a team effort.  

Good on Chastain, nominated in the Best Actress category for her role as Tammy Faye Bakker in the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye, for announcing she will skip the red carpet to be inside at the ceremony when her makeup and hairstyling team are up for their award.   

This move is an attempt by the Academy and its broadcast partners to make a snappier show and of course, attract a bigger audience. They should be careful they don’t lose sight of their purpose along the way.   

The Oscars were once a rare opportunity to see all your favourite stars in one room, watch them nail or fail a speech, check out what they were wearing, and get excited seeing previews for films that hadn’t reached New Zealand yet.   

None of those things are unique or special anymore – but recognising and celebrating all involved in your industry is.   

It’s easy to look at what’s going on in the world and say there are more important things to be thinking about than the Oscars – but hey, there have always been more important things to think about in the award’s almost 100-year history.   

So, if you happen to be one of those working from home tomorrow afternoon, set yourself up in front of the telly, enjoy the distraction and the celebration of this marvellous art form.  

And let’s cheer along for The Power of the Dog!