THE BLOG

Oscars And The Art Of Aggrievement

25/01/2017 10:41 GMT | Updated 25/01/2017 10:41 GMT

It's that time of year again when anyone with even a smattering of interest in the world of film becomes drawn into Oscar arguments. Love them or hate them - and for many those twin emotions combine into one package of infatuated rage - it's hard to ignore the Academy Awards.

With the Oscar nominations out, the predictable social media howls are ringing loud and clear. As ever there are valid concerns, and then there are the shouts of those outraged the three films they saw last year aren't nominated for everything.

The advent of social media certainly allows for an immediately explosive reaction once the nominees have been announced. Before then I'm sure the grizzled regulars propping up the bar at 11am in Wetherspoons must have muttered about the lack of love for Lav Diaz's latest five hour Filipino opus, but otherwise the reaction was more contained.

Now we all get to broadcast our opinion, and that opinion tends to involve bemoaning snubs. So imagine my disappointment on waking to the nominations to find I'm broadly happy with a lot of the main contenders. All those stinging tweets I'd prepared the night before that would really puncture the Academy's self-confidence turn out to be redundant.

Frankly, they've taken all the fun out of it. It's disheartening to look at a collection of nominees for Best Supporting Actress and realise they might have been picked on some degree of merit, rather than drawn out of a hat because there are barely five films with substantive leading roles for women, never mind well-written supporting parts.

Academy voters have even managed to watch a film that's not directed by a white man, or focused on white men, and nominate that a few times. It's also pretty good, as are the performances they've stumbled across to try and avoid the #OscarsSoWhite tag this time out. Perhaps we're moving slowly towards a reduced country for old (white) men, though the emphasis remains on the slowly, and it very much remains on the men.

Not that it's the fault of the Oscars if they can't find many films made by women. Hollywood rarely allows them in the first place. All those poor voting members of the Academy hardly have the power to change that when they go back to their day jobs running the film industry. Besides, complaining about the lack of diversity once a year when the Oscar nominations come out is still less fun than getting irate because personal taste hasn't been vindicated.

So the cry lamenting the absence of world cinema echoes out. Why must the American founded and focused Academy Awards insist every year that it only wants to nominate predominantly American films? Why can't they be more like the BAFTAs packing out nominations with films made on an entirely different continent no less, even if that continent happens to look remarkably like the one the Oscars operate in?

Why must they ignore the box office every year and refuse to hand over all the statuettes to Michael Bay, and why do these industry people making solid and effective mainstream drama insist on blanking the kind of risk-taking independent cinema they have never shown any interest in? Why do they throw in baffling nominations rather than follow the consistent thinking laid out by the online mob? And is it really fair to reserve a space annually for Meryl Streep? What happens if she decides to take a year off from acting? Is it too much to ask that the Academy reflects all these divergent concerns? Not that those complaining care about the Oscars of course, as they're at great pains to stress.

The Academy Awards have always tended to reward certain types of film, and they will continue to do so. Those searching for an awards show incorporating every criterion raised by hysterical online responders are going to draw a blank. As for me, I won't be adding my voice to the chorus. Although I did just notice they've snubbed Nocturnal Animals. And Silence. And American Honey, Independence Day, Batman V Superman, probably a few Marvel extravaganzas I've already forgotten about, and I imagine some really great foreign films I definitely would have watched had there not been new Adam Sandler films on Netflix. I take it all back; these nominations are a disgrace.