Our Family Theater office is only about 6 blocks from the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards take place. About 25 film enthusiasts gathered in our screening room to watch the ceremony. Here are my 8 Award Observations about the 87th Academy Awards:
- More than beautiful dresses. On the Red Carpet it seemed that reporters were going deeper than “What are you wearing?” asking questions about the films the actors played in, causes that they are passionate about and family.
- Hollywood gives love to Family. Perhaps inspired by the speech given by Best Supporting Actor winner JK Simmons, almost every Oscar winner mentioned and thanked their family as important to their creative process and career success. It seems that being a good parent is something people consider important and a sign of success and status.
- Bigger than Me. Many stars used their moment in the spotlight to point to issues bigger than themselves. Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) talked about her developing-world, water project and about equal pay for women. Eddie Redmayne who won Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything paid homage to those with ALS and those working to find treatments and a cure. Jullianne Moore who won Best Actress for Still Alice, also acknowledged those with Alzheimer’s disease.
- I didn’t see it yet. This year there were only 8 movies nominated for best picture (out of a potential of 10) and still I found very few people, even among my Hollywood film-buff friends who bothered to see all the films. I did not find many people rooting for films for Best Picture in part because they did not think their favorite would win even if it had been nominated. Birdman may have been the darling of the ball (Best Picture, Director and Screenplay), but it was not a great box office draw (only $38 million domestic).
- What are we going to about the Animation Category? I have a theory: I do not think Academy voters really watch the Animated Films either in the nomination process or in the final balloting. How did The Lego Movie not get nominated and not win best animated picture? It was a more entertaining film with sophisticated humor that could reach children and adults. If you did not enjoy The Lego Movie, chances are you did not see it. Big Hero 6 was fun and touching but it had huge marketing that drove the voting.
- Hollywood Remembers their Dead. In the Catholic Tradition we remember the dead in the month of November. Every year the Oscars have an In Memoriam Segment. As the month of November falls in the year, so the segment falls near the end of the program. It was touch to see people and remember the work they had done.
- A great film released early can still get attention. Wes Anderson’s quirky comedy Grand Budapest Hotel was released in late March 2014 and yet still was a contender for many awards and took home two statuettes on Sunday. For marketing reasons, distribut0rs load up the end of the year with their most award worthy films which crowds up the month of November, December and to some extent January. All of these are holiday times, busy for most people. People pick and choose the films they can afford to fit in. Some great films go unseen, even though they generate considerable buzz. Please give some great films in April and May this year.
- Richard Linklater made film history with Boyhood. We not only watched a boy grow up over the course of 12 years, but also his parents. I am often saddened and disturbed by some of the aspects of relationships, marriage and family that Linklater portrays in his films (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise) but he really captures a sense of our culture in the times we live. They are very real. He points out the struggles but also the joy, wonder and power of love, of reconciliation and of communication.
Hollywood Boulevard is open again the red carpet is rolled up and on its way to storage. Got any predictions for Oscar 2016 yet?