Let me begin by stating I am white and a centrist. Had to get that out there. I wanted to wait a little until my hatred of the haters dissipated. Academy Award time is the one day (lately) to side with conservatives about liberal Hollywood.
I have watched six of the eight nominated “Best Picture” films this year—much more than the recent past. This year must have been a particularly bad year as I seem to remember the Academy pushing the category from five films to ten some time ago. They couldn’t find two more?
I did not see Vice, about a white man becoming vice-president. I didn’t catch The Favourite, about white noble British women in the 18th century. Nor did I see First Man, a film about a white man going to the moon or Can You Ever Forgive Me, about a white woman forging letters by dead authors. The latter two were not on the list of the great eight. I mention my having not seen these films to provide context.
I have watched the rest of the elite nominees this year. Roma was wonderful—a masterpiece in direction, telling a good story. I don’t care if Netflix released it or that it was in black & white. It was entertaining but as much as I cared about Cleo (the housekeeper), I found myself not caring about anyone else—even the mother’s situation. It may have lost out because of the whole Americans not liking subtitles thing but I wouldn’t have batted an eye if it took home (to the country presently without a wall) the top prize. I watched Black Panther in a theatre with a full house. It was a good action Marvel-esque blockbuster. Was it better than any other Marvel movie? Better than some but not the best. It provided one very interesting difference and watershed cultural feel from the others. Did that alone make it worthy of a Best Picture Oscar? I also viewed BlacKkKlansman. Good characters, excellent acting and a great story. The direction, though, I felt was lacking. Spike Lee can rant and rave all he likes but his scenes are far too long and it is probably he, himself, who destroyed the movie’s chances of taking home top prize. Sometimes, brevity is king.
In one week I knocked off Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and Green Book. I thoroughly enjoyed them all but from that point I believed Green Book was a touch above all and worthy of being Best Picture. Why??? I found myself more entertained during those two plus hours. Again, brevity people!
So, am I a simpleton who just cares about being moved and entertained? Well, yes. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind messages, hidden or otherwise in my movies but, as a simple-minded person, I just want to be entertained by my films. And, I do mean films. There is a distinction between movies and films and we appear to have lost the ability to enjoy both. It’s a shame really because (and I am guilty as well) most of us seem to only have time for the opening weekend blockbuster these days.
So, should diversity count in movies and films—ABSOLUTELY. Everyone and anyone talented enough to be involved should be counted and represented. However, should people who make films be awarded simply because of diversity? That could be debated but I just want to see the best by individuals of all backgrounds and let their work stand on their own merit (also, how much they have distracted us from our mundane lives.) When consistency thrives and is applauded, it becomes the norm. Words like diversity, black, Me Too will be woven into the fabric of the entire entertainment world (and beyond, hopefully.) We won’t find the need to discuss it. We will only discuss which films, on their own merit, moved and entertained us. In other words… a true level playing field.
On a different, more personal note… I want to say the Academy Awards keep dropping the ball on its In Memoriam segment. Many were omitted once again but one in particular pisses me off because I knew him. Dick Miller had a long and distinguished career. It spanned from the mid-fifties to 2015. He appeared in over 100 films and television shows. Some of the best directors in Hollywood called on him to fill a role and just about anyone who watches would know his face. Oh yeah… that guy! He was a regular customer of mine when I was a server in L.A. He and his buddies always had a story and a laugh. You may know him from Bucket of Blood or Gremlins or even the gun store owner in Terminator. Where ever you recognize him from, he was an A-lister in my book and should have been included. I realize there are time restrictions on television but shame on you Mr.… or Mrs. Oscar.