A Brief Guide to the Academy Awards

The+Academy+Awards+will+take+place+on+March+4th%2C+2018.+Photo+courtesy+of+Andrew+H.+Walker%2FGetty+Images.+
The Academy Awards will take place on March 4th, 2018. Photo courtesy of Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

The Academy Awards will take place on March 4th, 2018. Photo courtesy of Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

The Academy Awards will take place on March 4th, 2018. Photo courtesy of Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

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Though most discussion around film currently might revolve around the spectacular global phenomenon that is Marvel’s Black Panther, awards season continues to be in full swing. Discussion over 2017’s premier films and performances has been tireless over the past few months. It makes sense that there would be heavy discussion though, as the season’s offerings have been bountiful. Films such as Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have been gaining buzz in the film world for months. Though awards season itself began in November of last year, arguably it kicked into high gear in January with the Golden Globes, which offered premonition for how the following awards shows would pan out. With the Academy Awards approaching soon, it is important to examine some of the films that have been gaining notoriety.

The past year in film has been an incredibly exciting one, with a diverse range of offerings from some of the foremost directors of the century. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, a war epic, is a departure from his typical past work (Inception, Interstellar) but it still proves Nolan’s expert craft in bending traditional linear time structure into a compelling narrative. The film has nods for Best Picture, Director, and some technical awards, but it might have a hard time standing up to other colossus directors such as Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is a late addition to the roundup of films, but it is one that critics adore. Speilberg’s The Post seems tailor-made for awards season. Featuring a cast led by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the film chronicling The Washington Post’s coverage of the Pentagon papers fits the traditional standard for Academy Award winners.

Left: A still of Daniel Kaluuya in Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out.’ Right: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’. Pictures courtesy of Time and Slate Magazine.

Nevertheless, nontraditional films have also been recognized and celebrated during this season. As years have gone by, the Academy has celebrated more unconventional films that tell unique stories and feature diverse narratives and identities. Last year’s Best Picture winner Moonlight is evidence of this trend. This year sees the Academy recognizing films like Call Me By Your Name, which tells the story of two men in the 1980’s discovering their bisexuality. A happy surprise is the Best Picture nom for Get Out by Jordan Peele, who also has a Best Director nod. Get Out is a smart social commentary on racism that has transformed the horror genre. The nomination for Get Out shows the Academy attempting to better acclaim diverse identities. Arguably though, the Academy still fails to recognize a diverse range of actors and directors and tends to end up celebrating predominantly white males.

Though we have barely explored the wide range of recognition for various directors, actors, cinematographers and the like, the films in this year’s crop of best pictures is worthy of discussion. They represent not only some of the form’s best directors but also a new surge of narratives that highlight our growing, changing, diversifying world. Still, all that we have seen now are the nominations. It will not be until March 4th until we see if the Academy actually follows through.

 

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