Formulaic Academy Awards shed poor light on award winners

By: Alex Spindler ~Staff Writer~

While the Oscars fostered highly-discussed moments such as John Travolta’s slippery pronunciation of singer Idina Menzel’s name and Ellen DeGeneres’ pizza delivery became the talk of the town, other commentary percolated to the surface.

The films “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyers Club” took home the largest quantity of trophies for the evening.

Although these films have attracted the greatest praise for their craftsmanship and their respective awards are viewed as well-deserving, many question why these types of movies are the ones hogging the awards every year.

Over the years, Peter Travers, the leading film critic for “Rolling Stone” magazine has noted that certain film strategies inevitably fuel a movie’s momentum for Oscar gold.

He states that an actress like Anne Hathaway, for example, was screaming for an Oscar when her 30-pound weight loss and onstage haircut left her completely transformed in last year’s “Les Miserables.”

Dramatic weight loss, films concerning “1980’s AIDS-Scare” topics like the homosexual and transgender communities, mega blockbusters with technological advancements, inspirational race films and period pieces sweep up every trophy in their path year after year, and this time around, it was no different.

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, recipients of the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards respectively for their roles in “Dallas Buyer Club” lost a combined 78 pounds.

Leto even admits that after posting photos of him biologically emaciated with drag garb and fake AIDS sores, he knew that Oscar voters would single him out for this extreme self-castigation.

Still, perhaps the biggest criticism came from newcomer Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the Best Picture “12 Years a Slave.”

Critics believe that Nyong’o gave a fine performance, yet it begs the question if African American actresses can be noted for roles outside of maids and slaves.

This controversy came just two years ago when Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer received raves for their roles as house servants in “The Help.”

Though Spencer was the only one of the two to score big on Oscar night, Davis felt upset that the greatest attention on her acting career comes with a stereotypical “Mammy” win.

Per usual, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it does not know anything about the allegations of awards prejudice.

Yet history will prove that only certain roles and specific character and production types steal these awards.

Many films have attempted to emulate this formula for Academy Award success, yet few come out on top. Films like “Philomena” and “Her,” though noted for excellent production, were not even close to attaining Oscar gold.

Independent companies outside of box office giants Warner Brothers, Universal and Disney have even given up campaigning for these award ceremonies, knowing good and well that their films do not fit the prescribed archetype for the Academy Awards docket.