It’s that time of year again. Actors and actresses wearing their finest statement pieces, and throngs of film buffs huddling around their screens to see if their picks get picked. You know what I’m talking about: awards season. And of all of the awards, the Oscars surely reign as king.
Lately though, the academy’s authority has come into question. Does an academy award add anything to a film, or should they even be considered legitimate? To some, the answer to these questions is that awards don’t matter and that the individual’s opinion of the film is the most important thing at the end of the day. The same argument can be attributed to movie reviews, art reviews, food reviews and book reviews, and if that’s the case, reviews, according to that argument, are useless. But, that is disregarding one of the basic tenets of reviews and awards.
The Oscars, like movie and book reviews, are decided by people with decades of experience in the respective film genres they are judging. Many of the people on the panel for Oscar judging are past Oscar winners themselves, or highly respected figures in their fields. The cinematography award is chosen by a panel of only cinematographers — men and women who have dedicated their entire professional career to capturing magic for the silver screen. This experience and level of knowledge in their respective field gives them more right to criticize than the average moviegoer.
When the artist receives a golden statue, that crowning achievement, they are then etched into history, immortalized in the clouds with the fellow kings of cinematic art. That award also means that they will get more jobs and continue to spread their art to other films and eventually to the lucky public. The Oscar they work for, and hopefully receive, is a crowning achievement that will cement their place in Hollywood and the film industry at large. At the end of the day, the opinion of Joe Shmoe who didn’t like the cinematographer’s latest masterpiece because it was “too artsy” isn’t the audience they are making the film for. The artist is making the film so that he or she can create something they are proud of, something they love and something they can be recognized for.
The Oscars also can be a starting point for industry breakouts. At the 2011 Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence was recognized for her breakout role in “Winter’s Bone”, a harrowing role where she had to provide for her ailing mother and siblings while searching for her drug addict father. This role and nomination catapulted Jennifer Lawrence into the highest echelon of Hollywood, landing her a four-film contract for “The Hunger Games” and also her Oscar-winning role in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The Oscars got her that spot, helped her up the ladder of Hollywood stardom and because of that, she will be up there with the great actors of the 21st century.
The same can be said for this year’s Oscars. Timothée Chalamet, a 22-year-old from Manhattan, has become the youngest male actor since 1939 to be nominated for the best actor. His breakout role was in “Lady Bird” and was nominated for the role in “Call Me By Your Name” brought him into the international spotlight, earning him multiple nominations for awards like the BAFTA, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and the Oscars. Just by his nomination, his name is now in the books for multiple roles, his future on the screen almost guaranteed and while it’s due vastly in part to his stunning performance, he now can reap the benefits of it with his nomination.
The Oscar nomination opens the door to Hollywood knighthood, garnering new actors places next to the best in the business, helping their career reach unimaginable heights. The Oscar nomination is like the Golden Ticket from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” You’ve made it, you get to see how the candy is made and get to eat it. But if you win the Oscar and walk onto that sweeping stage, you get the keys to the kingdom.
Take a look at Georgie Riggs’ counterpoint, “Why do we still care about awards?“