The Oscars aren't perfect. They aren't even good. They get things wrong all the time, ignoring greatness while rewarding mediocrity. They're not-so-secretly racist, as evidenced by this year's list of nominees, which features not a single non-white face among its TWENTY acting nominees for the second year in a row, despite a strong slate of performances by people of colour, as illustrated by this Decider column by Joe Reid. They're also not-so-secretly sexist, since even in these nominally more enlightened times, the work of female directors and writers is routinely ignored. (Admittedly that stems from a much bigger problem to do with how Hollywood repeatedly and completely fails to support female filmmakers, but just because the Oscars are a symptom of a problem doesn't mean they aren't also a problem on their own.) Even when they do get something right, they suck all the fun out of art by forcing people to compare wildly different films, pick sides over which is going to be their film this year, then presents them all in a leaden, slovenly ceremony that's usually only interesting for how it turns people who make their living entertaining into complete dullards. (Poor Neil Patrick Harris, you never stood a chance!)
Yet despite everything that is wrong with them - and you could fill the Dolby Theatre with physical embodiments of those problems, as the Academy does once every February - the Oscars are the one time of the year when a lot of people start paying attention to movies that aren't blockbusters. Not just the denizens of Film Twitter, but normal, functioning human beings, the sort of people who look at the list of nominees and think, "Huh, Room, guess I should check that out." It's an event that can help bring attention to people and films that deserve far more, in addition to those (*cough*Leonardo DiCaprio and The Revenant*cough*) that could use a little less. As such, I think it's worth pointing out the times that the Oscars get it right, however rare that may be, and to shine a little more light on the good and/or surprising nominees that somehow managed to slip through the net.
Delight No. 1: The Love for Mad Max: Fury Road
|Artist's impression of the average Academy Voter.|
Delight No. 2: George Miller's Impressively Strange String of Oscar Nominations Just Got Stranger
|Time to play everyone's favourite game: Maverick Director or Saucy Librarian?|
Delight No. 3: The Weeknd, Lady Gaga and Antony Hegarty Are All Oscar Nominees Now
|Probably the Oscar nominee who does the best rendition of "Dirty Diana", though we'll need a televised karaoke contest, probably hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, to be sure.|
Sam Smith is also an Oscar nominee, but I think we can all ignore that for now.
*Edit: Literally seconds after I posted this, I saw David Ehrlich retweet someone on Twitter saying that Hegarty is the second trans person to be nominated for an Academy Award after Angela Morley.
Delight No. 4: The Second Best Film of 2016 Got An Oscar Nomination
|The only thing bleaker than this is the thought of Eddie Redmayne winning another Oscar.|
Delight No. 5: Adam McKay Is Now A Double Oscar Nominee
|We all know these nominations are belated recognition for this moment.|
6. The Strong Showing For Brooklyn
|TFW you've said "it's pronounced 'ser-sha'" for the thousandth time.|
7. A24's Banner Year
|The campaign to introduce "Best Dance" as a category starts - and ends - with this GIF.|
Considering that they have new horror classic The Witch, Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin follow-up Green Room, and John Cameron Mitchell's Neil Gaiman adaptation How to Talk to Girls At Parties due out this year, it's safe to saw that 2016 is looking pretty good for one of the most exciting companies out there.