Opinion: A case against this year’s Oscars

Matt Poe

The Oscars are Sunday and while many are anxiously awaiting its arrival, I for one am going against the grain and declaring this year’s ceremony poppycock. I refuse to take the bait this year and bow to that smug, golden statue who thinks so highly of himself.

There was a time when I was heavily invested in the Oscars. As someone who considers himself a movie buff, I could go on and on about these awards, much longer than the unfortunate people around me would like to hear. Thankfully, I am over that useless bit of trivia that is only handy when playing Trivia Crack or bar talk with friends. And for the most part, I’m over the Oscars. Here’s a few reasons why:

For most people who won’t watch this year’s ceremony, it will be in support of #OscarsSoWhite, a movement that began when voters failed to nominate an actor or actress of color for the second straight year. While the support for the movement has been solid and rightfully addressed an issue the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences has failed to recognize for decades, it just scratches the surface.  

The message and call-to-action shouldn’t be aimed solely at the Academy when Hollywood as a whole has major issues in helping create films portraying different groups and races. So, while #OscarsSoWhite is a good start, it’s just the first layer of a larger social issue, one that may not be changing anytime soon.   

Not only is the Academy poor in recognizing diverse film-making, the ceremony itself is often boring and awkward. There will be occasional hosts with jokes that hit it out of the ballpark, like Ellen DeGeneres and the always great Billy Crystal, but most of the hosts whiff and strikeout. If I ever have to watch the likes of James Franco and Anne Hathaway together or Seth Macfarlane host again, I will personally make it my life’s mission to ensure the ceremony ceases to exist. Having these younger hosts was a ploy to gain the critical 18-34 demographic that the Oscars has sorely missed over the years. It didn’t work and neither did Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted last year’s least-watched ceremony in six years.

However, there is one reason I cannot wait for this year’s Oscars: The great actor of our generation, Leonardo DiCaprio, is finally going to get his long-awaited Oscar. All he had to do was pretty much get eaten by a bear in “The Revenant” to get it. I think we’re at the point where we care more about DiCaprio winning an Oscar than he does, as if his mere existence and will to live is driven by a 13.5-inch gold statue. The whole narrative is hilarious. Between the hordes of women, great acting and the envy of every bro out there, I think he’s doing just fine. Besides, he wasn’t even the best actor in the film; Tom Hardy stole the show as the sadistic Fitzgerald. But he surely won’t win.

More often than not, the Academy gets the nominations wrong and also gets the winners wrong. Much of it is the politics of Hollywood, but they often prefer physical, challenging performances to the body, like DiCaprio’s this year or Eddie Redmayne’s last year as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” While they’re still good performances, the nuances of Michael Keaton last year in “Birdman” or Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs” are more impressive. Getting mauled by a bear and rolling around in the snow is easy. I’ll do it just to prove my point.

Many people still enjoy watching the Oscars and if you do, by all means enjoy it. Will I tune in to watch the final 20 minutes and see Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu become the first back-to-back best director winner in almost 70 years? Probably. But I refuse to sift through almost four hours of the show and listen to anymore Oscar pity for DiCaprio. I doubt he’s obsessing over it. Neither should we. 

Matt Poe is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].