THE BLOG

Why I Won't Be Watching the Oscars This Year

28/01/2016 15:22 GMT | Updated 28/01/2017 10:12 GMT

It's not been a good year for Hollywood. Yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box office records bringing in nearly two billion dollars and counting but for the past 12 months, there just hasn't been the excitement that surrounded films such as Gravity, 12 Years a Slave or The Dallas Buying Club. This year's clutch of award hopefuls leave me distinctly underwhelmed. Yes, I saw Bridge Of Spies, The Big Short, The Martian and Brooklyn but I walked out halfway through Mad Max and for the life of me can't understand why this has been included in the Best Picture nominations. I haven't seen The Revenant - nor do I wish to. We can file that safely under the banner of More White Guys Doing Stuff. It says something when the most emotionally engaging movie on the list is animated - Pixar's Inside Out.

At the time of writing, President Barack Obama had just weighed in on the debate over the #Oscarssowhite Twitter campaign, saying that Hollywood needed to make sure that everyone had a chance. Equality of opportunity is, after all, one of the principles America was founded on. Nominated for an honorary award, director Spike Lee has said he won't be attending. Neither will Jada Pinkett Smith. I wonder how many others will choose to sit this one out?

Now the Oscars is little more than a fashion show, providing yet another opportunity for designers to hawk their wares - with mobile phone and tech companies moving in on the act. What next, the Oscars brought to you by Google or Netflix? It could happen. Maybe Amazon could start its own awards ceremony. That would be something.

The awards ceremony ceased to be of any real cultural significance some time ago. When Patricia Arquette picked up the Best Supporting Actress award for Boyhood and used her acceptance speech to speak out about equal rights for women, there was a brief glimpse into what the Oscars used to be - and what it used to mean. I can't imagine any of the actors up for awards this year using the podium to speak out about anything. But I'm happy to be wrong.

The Oscars have long caused controversy. Famously, Alfred Hitchcock never picked up a best director award. And the likes of Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman and David Lynch have regularly been passed over. But what's at issue with the #Oscarssowhite campaign is that for the second year running, there hasn't been a single actor of colour nominated for an Oscar. I'd rather have seen Straight Outta Compton nominated than Mad Max - even though the script was made-for-TV-movie quality. But here's the thing: despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Hollywood still refuses to see audiences of any colour and still sees stories about non-whites as not being universally relevant. Say what you like about Mel Gibson (and I know people do) but who else would have made the truly brilliant Apocalypto, a subtitled movie with non-stars speaking Mayan dialect - set in the 16th century?

Perhaps Hollywood could use a few more like him, people prepared to put their balls on the line for a project - rather than thinking about the next lunchbox slogan.