Thursday, February 27, 2014

What you won't see at the Oscars this Sunday

We love the Oscars, but we admit that they're imperfect. With the ceremony only three days away, it's time to be a little critical. The Academy frequently overlooks specific types of films that, in retrospect, we often consider to be some of the greatest.

Comedies, for the most part, are rarely nominated and win even less frequently. There are countless articles belaboring this point, but we'll let this summary from The Atlantic do the talking. With the exception of the occasional quirky dramedy, comedy films almost never receive nods for the top awards. Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture this year, only American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street could be considered comedies – and that's pushing the definition. While we would never expect something like The Hangover to go home with Oscar gold, classic comedies including Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, and This is Spinal Tap have all left the Oscars without any recognition. This is arguably the Academy Awards' greatest repeated oversight.

Relatedly, the Academy also has a habit of overlooking films about youth. This year's acting snub for Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha is part of a long tradition of ignoring coming-of-age stories. Outside of perhaps The Graduate and American Graffiti, it is difficult to find a single film about young people that the Academy loved; now-legendary director John Hughes was never once nominated for his filmography that includes The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Truffaut's groundbreaking The 400 Blows was not nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film award. Considering how often the Academy tips its hat to out-of-the-way gems like Nebraska, the repeated omission of youth stories is conspicuous.

These are perhaps another indication that the Oscars are never a good indicator of long-term acclaim. Or maybe it's just easy to be bitter that Mel Brooks only won a single Academy Award.

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