We’re days away from the Oscars, and this year has been one that has seen a lot of controversy emerge over the lack of diversity and representation among the nominees. The very well-reviewed “Selma,” in particular, cited as a “snub” with only two nods (Best Picture, Best Original Song). It’s a complex issue, a conversation that is ongoing in Hollywood, and one that needs thoughtfulness in its approach. What it probably doesn’t need is a major industry trade magazine publishing the ramblings of one cherry-picked, headline-grabbing voter, just days before the Oscars.
But here we are. I get The Hollywood Reporter‘s decision to go with this juicy material because it’s hard to ignore. I probably would have, too. But let’s also remember how easy it is to say outrageous things under the cloak of anonymity. With no chance of actually being identified, THR has given a platform for somebody to say the things they probably wouldn’t if they had their name attached. It’s worth bearing that in mind when reading this voter’s following statements about how they’ll vote.
On “Selma”: First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of ‘Deliverance‘ — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?
On “Inherent Vice”: I put in the ‘Inherent Vice’ screener, and it became apparent that it’s a terrible, incoherent movie, so I turned it off. I thought it was not possible for me to hate something more than I hated ‘The Master,’ but I hated this more.
On Best Supporting Actress: …I’m voting for Arquette. She gets points for working on a film for 12 years and bonus points for having no work done during the 12 years. If she had had work done during the 12 years, she would not be collecting these statues. It’s a bravery reward. It says, “You’re braver than me. You didn’t touch your face for 12 years. Way to freakin’ go!”
On Best Original Screenplay: I’m not voting for ‘Nightcrawler‘ — that was really unpleasant. With ‘Foxcatcher,’ they said seven words in the whole movie and the rest of it was people staring at each other, so I’m not voting for that. ”
On Best Cinematography: The ‘Birdman‘ single-shot thing gave me a headache.
Anyway, you get the idea. The impression reading the entire commentary is that Oscar voters don’t understand the technical side of filmmaking, are resistant to groundbreaking movies, and don’t like their personal politics questioned. But there are also over five thousand other members who probably approach these things with more of an even-keeled intelligence and respect. Let us know what you think in the comments section.