A little less than two weeks ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences surprised the world by filling their big five categories for the next Academy Awards — Director and the four Acting awards — with white men and women, and nobody else. Shocking, I know.
This is obviously not the first time that people have gotten upset over the whole “#oscarssowhite” thing. It doesn’t surprise me that people get upset. They have good reason to. I have no idea how the voters at the Academy came to these conclusions this year, or last year for that matter. It could just be a coincidence that films like “Straight Outta Compton” and actors like Michael B. Jordan got snubbed from the Awards this year. It does seem like an awfully petty thing to do, however. In the average brain slug’s view, humans are humans. You’re all going to get enslaved anyway. I have a feeling if our fleet has to take the Earth by force, most of humanity is going to band together to fight us regardless of trivial things like skin color. It’d be foolish to refuse another person’s help just because of their race.
Now, of course, it’d be foolish to resist the Slug Empire’s rule in the first place, but I’m just supposing here. I don’t think the world’s leaders are that stupid.
What was I talking about? Oh right, the Oscars. Come to think of it, the Oscars are pretty petty to begin with, too. The Academy did release a statement last week that they would reconsider the voting process in response to the race debacle, and they actually did that on Friday. New voting regulations were added to bring more fresh blood to the Academy. In the big picture of the film industry, though, does it really matter?
Films, as seen by a brain slug, are pretty trivial on their own. However, having a nerdy film buff as a parasitic host means that I get a lot of really cool insight into what they mean for the human condition or in terms of filmmaking. It still can’t compare to the moving sky paintings of the planet Kalli, but as a method of storytelling, I’ve seen worse throughout the galaxy.
In terms of storytelling, Oscar season has typically been a big boon. Film studios are making safer and safer bets with blockbusters throughout the year, which is why we constantly see reboots and longtime franchises. Oscar season gives those studios an excuse to green light riskier projects that tell far more interesting — and possibly even unpalatable, to some audiences — stories. This meant that while the general public got to see the seventh “Avengers” film, the film buff looking for something more would get to see something more challenging and satisfying if they so desired.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of changed recently. This year’s Oscar season was harshly and rudely interrupted by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which isn’t a bad movie, but it still gave smaller and smarter films a real monster to compete with. Similarly, when “Oscar bait” films started releasing in October, they had “The Martian” to deal with, and if you think the early spring and summer months were safe, they had “Mad Max: Fury Road” to compete in that department.
Big blockbusters are getting better and better, and the best ones are starting to tread on months that have typically been reserved for those smaller, riskier movies. Keep in mind that most people are only going to be seeing a few movies a year in theaters with the hope of catching the smaller stuff on Netflix later on down the line, and Netflix is where the really interesting stuff like “Beasts of No Nation” or “Winter on Fire” is happening. When only the biggest and loudest theatrical releases can thrive, the riskier movies have to flee to online services in order to be seen.
That’s reflected in this year’s lineup of nominees. One of those safe Hollywood reboots, “Mad Max,” did end up getting nominated. The new “Star Wars” has gotten five nominations — almost all of them for technical categories, but still more than most of the other Best Picture nominees. “The Martian” has seven nominations.
Does this mean that big blockbusters are getting better? Are risky independent films getting worse? Should the Academy start paying attention to what people are watching on the web rather than on the big screen? I don’t know. I’m only a slug. The world of filmmaking is rapidly changing, though, and while the Academy has addressed the race issue — halfheartedly, admittedly — there are still tons of issues they still need to work out if they want to stay relevant.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. EMBRACE THE SEAWOLF SLUG.