Awards season is an exciting time for anyone immersed in the movie and entertainment world. It’s a time to celebrate the vast array of diverse cinema released each and every year. Or is it? This year’s BAFTA’s were presented as an awards show genuinely concerned with heralding unique independent cinema as well as mainstream films that are able to reach larger audiences. Many who watched the BAFTA’s may of been unaware of the films of Mike Leigh, the power of Linklater’s twelve year project with Boyhood or the great creative minds behind spectacular productions such as Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. The BAFTA’s, this year hosted by witty British treasure Stephen Fry, are often seen as a precursor to The Academy Awards in the sense that you can perhaps guarantee the trophy’s will be handed out to the same hands. In the past this has been somewhat true – not this year. Boyhood received one award, and Birdman dominated.
Without questioning the validity of either award ceremony, I simply wish to say that with each year The Academy Awards (apparently the most prestigious night in film) are seemingly becoming less about true talent, and more about mass appeal. All we have to do is remember the Greats who never received a trophy, and when they did it was for a strange role that didn’t really seem fitting as opposed to previous performances; Martin Scorsese being a great example of a director who, after decades of producing career-defining films and changing the face of cinema, finally had his moment in the sun but with a film that perhaps didn’t challenge audiences quite in the same way as say Goodfellas or Casino.
The Academy Award’s are of course not at all bad, and this year stood as a platform for many winners to call for equality surrounding societal issues such as misogyny, racism and feminism. Further to this, if a film wins its likely many will seek that feature out – which in turn means more revenue for an industry that is becoming dominated by illegal downloads and on-demand services which seem determined to destroy the dwindling cinema industry. No one can really define the term ‘independent’ anymore, like no one can really understand why Netflix, a website that owes its success to film and television, wishes to take away from the spirit of the business (i.e, the experience of theater-going).
I don’t profess to be the most knowledgeable on the woes of the industry, or the ins-and-outs of the latest deal to produce a film franchise based on light pornography (which although might be based on the worst-written literature in recent history, has certainly helped the Box Office out), but I do profess that I love film. In recent years my love for indie film has expanded, and my view that the studios main agenda to churn out $100 million blockbusters that were finished in six months and have a script that could be written by my cat, is pretty annoying. Don’t remake Point Break and turn a cult classic into something it was never meant to be – a multi-million dollar project. Sit down and open that script that a talented eighteen year old with a passion for film wrote, and poured their soul into – and create the next film that truly means something, because that is what is really missing from the majority of contemporary cinema.