5 things wrong about the Oscars Best Picture category

The Oscars Best Picture category has perhaps the biggest share of controversies and points of contention (though that in itself is open for debate!), and some of the facts and stats really do beggar belief…

Here are five things shockingly wrong about this award…

1  FOREIGN FILMS 

Not one Foreign Language Film has scooped the prize for Best Picture, in over 86 years of the Awards. And only nine have actually been nominated.  Crazy, right?   Here’s what they were: Grand Illusion (1938, French);  Z (1969, French), The Emigrants (1972, Swedish), Cries and Whispers (1973, Swedish), Il Postino (1995, Italian/Spanish), Life is Beautiful (pictured; 1998, Italian), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Mandarin Chinese), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006, Japanese), and Amour (2012, French).

2  GENRES OMITTED

Certain genres seem to get left out. No science fiction film has EVER won Best Picture. Only one fantasy film has taken out the prize (Lord of the Rings – Return of the King, 2003); very few animation films ever get nominated. Only two comedies have won in the last 30 years –Shakespeare in Love and The Artist.  (Though, could Birdman make it three?)

3  WHAT ABOUT DOCOS?

No documentary has ever been nominated. Maybe it’s just a numbers thing (# of feature films made each year vs # documentaries?) Perhaps you could argue there’s more artistry in fiction over non-fiction – if we can liken it to that? After all, docos don’t have as many opportunities for special effects, characterisation, acting etc. BUT, quality documentaries are not exactly short on exceptional editing, creative camera work, innovative narrative techniques. Nor are they unable to build tension and suspense; draw us in emotionally. If anything, docos have authenticity as their advantage – what’s more powerful than knowing something’s real?

4   BEST DIRECTORS + BEST FILMS

Only two Best Directors in Academy history didn’t have their movies nominated for Best Film. (This could become three if Bennett Miller pulls off a win next week!) That said, it’s easy to understand why so many Best Directors score the win when their film takes out Best Picture (almost 75 percent, historically) seeing they’re integral and responsible for the whole thing – BUT doesn’t it seem strange that so FEW don’t have their films make the shortlist?  Surely, over 86 years in film-making, there have been many cases where exceptional direction was let down by other areas of the production. Weak scripts, overly-ambitious stories, poor performances or mis-cast actors that never really felt right in the roles. (I foresee a whole blog post coming on this). What do you think?

5  CULTURE AND POLITICS

Only 12 films exclusively financed outside the US have won Best Picture. Arguably this says more about where all the money is and the politics of the Awards than anything else, but nonetheless food for thought – especially when most films are produced in India. Where are all the Indian films?

LESS SURPRISING…

…is that only two sequels have ever won Best Picture. All the more credit to them, for being sequels! These were The Godfather Part II and Lord of the Rings – Return of the King.

Any thoughts? – Anything to add?!

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