Posts Tagged ‘Shame

20
Feb
12

OW 2012: Identifying The Academy

Two of these things are not like the others.

Woody Allen, George Lucas, Meat Loaf, Erik Estrada. If I were to ask you out of these four names which two were members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS aka The Academy), which two would you choose? If you’re like me you might suspect that the obvious answer isn’t right one. And you’d be right. Believe or not the guy that gave us “I’d Do Anything For Love” (Meat Loaf) and one of the most recognizable characters from CHIPs (Erik Estrada) are members of The Academy while two of the biggest directors of the past 30 years are not. Unbelievable right? That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Academy member demographics.

With the Oscars just a week away The Los Angeles Times came out with a great set of articles(here & here) that try to get a handle on just who is in The Academy. Why is this so important? The main reason is because this group determines the top awards in the film industry. When it comes to predicting and understanding the Oscars, throw out your personal preferences about who should win and understand that it’s this set group of people that determines the awards. Knowing who they are can help you understand why they vote the way they do.

Getting an idea of the makeup of Academy members is not an easy task as their membership roster is not made public. However, with some great reporting by the Los Angeles Times, they’ve managed to uncover a number of demographics about Academy membership. Check out these statistics from the Los Angeles Times piece . . .

Data via The Los Angeles Times article cited in this post.

While the numbers are disheartening, I can’t say that it’s all that surprising. Just like any long standing organization in America, a majority of its members are older caucasian males. Independent research cited in the LATimes piece also lends credence to their reporting as “the academy’s demographics mirror the industry’s” (19% female makeup of the academy’s screenwriting branching matching the Writer’s Guild 17% female makeup; same trend follows in both the academy’s producers and directors branches matching their guild counterparts in female makeup).

At the end of the day just what do all these numbers mean? Well for one thing it definitely seems like the Academy isn’t as diverse as we would like it to be. Areas that are grossly under represented are members of different racial backgrounds, female members, and members under the age of 50. With a deficiency in these areas, it’s clearer to see why the Academy votes the way it does–with similar demographic makeup Academy members may be predisposed to voting in a similar way.

Films that skew to younger audiences or cater to a certain racial demographic may not be as easily understood by an Academy made up of mostly older caucasian males. The same could be said of female driven projects or films with strong female leads (like last year’s Bridesmaids).

Do these types of films have a decided disadvantage since they may not be as accessible, relatable, or plain just don’t appeal to an older male demographic? Sadly I think the answer is yes. I mean lots of examples could be cited. Last year Sony executives cited this fact as why their Best Picture nominee, The Social Network, lost out to eventual winner The King’s Speech–older Academy members just didn’t relate to the Internet story. This year a similar fate might have doomed the film Shame, a film with great storytelling and strong performances by two great actors (Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan) based around sex-addiction, sadly a topic that I’m sure not everyone is comfortable with discussing let alone watch explicitly play out on screen.

In the grand scheme of things, I think the Academy is a direct reflection of Hollywood–it’s not all that diverse either . . .

“We absolutely recognize that we need to do a better job,” said writer-director Phil Alden Robinson, a longtime academy governor. But “we start off with one hand tied behind our back…. If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job in opening up its ranks, it’s very hard for us to diversify our membership.”

It’s definitely a difficult position to be in when you’d like to diversify membership, but are hard-pressed to find candidates. Then the question becomes, well do we relax our standards of admittance in order to diversify for the greater good? Not everyone in The Academy thinks that’s a good idea . . .

Frank Pierson, a former academy president who won an Oscar for original screenplay for “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1976, said merit is the primary criterion for membership. “I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said Pierson, who still serves on the board of governors. “We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it.”

At the end of the day The Academy is what it is and it’s what we’ve got right now. They’re the people that decide the Academy Awards. Do I think The Academy should be more diversified? Of course I do! As to how they should go about determining that . . . I have no idea. Some of the current standards that the Academy has in place for membership I do support, standards that require prospective members to have achieved certain milestones in their respective craft. Academy members should definitely be accomplished. I mean when Woody Allen and George Lucas aren’t members and Meat Loaf and Erik Estrada are, that definitely says something.

It says The Academy isn’t who we think it should be.

06
Jan
12

Oscar Bait Comes to Kahala

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (left) and Shame (right) are both getting some buzz this awards season.

Awards season in film is heating up with the Golden Globes to be awarded on Sunday, January 15 and then the Academy Award nominations to be announced nine days later on the 24th. With this in mind, some of the films that are awards contenders will be coming to Consolidated Theatres Kahala 8–which is great considering January is usually a Hollywood dumping ground as far as the quality of their releases goes.

In fact, one of the films that I mentioned I still wanted to see from 2011, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is out now not just at Kahala, but a bunch of other locations on Oahu. Here’s a few other Oscar bait films that could be coming to Kahala relatively soon:

Now, release dates and films might change since some of these smaller releases are really dependent on a number of studio factors AND the potential for how well they could do locally. If/when they do make it here, you better see it quick too since there’s no telling how long it will be in theaters. Out of the films listed, I already mentioned Tinker Tailor, but I’m also interested in seeing Shame. I actually talked about Shame in my Most Anticipated Fall Movies of 2011 back in September, so I’m actually glad to see it show up here in early 2012. Be warned though, Shame isn’t for the faint of heart as it carries a rating of NC-17:

Another movie that I want to try and check out before Oscar night is A Separation. It’s Iran’s submission for the Academy Award Foreign Language competition and has made a number of critic “Best of” lists for 2011 so again I’d like to see what all the buzz is about that as well. Consolidated’s website currently lists A Separation as having a February 10 release locally.

14
Sep
11

Most Anticipated Fall Movies 2011

Just got through listening to the most recent Filmspotting podcast (#363) and the guys listed their Top 5 Most Anticipated Fall Movies.  It got me thinking about what I’m most interested in seeing in the next two months. Though I’m not one for “Top 5” lists, I thought it would be fun to think about and list some of the stuff I’m looking forward to. Taking Adam and Matty’s lead I’m going to limit this list to films coming out from this weekend to the weekend before Thanksgiving (9/16 – 11/18). Here they are in order of release date:

DRIVE (September 16) :: I heard a lot of good buzz about this movie coming out of Comic Con where they had a special screening of the film. Trying to find out a little bit more about the movie I stumbled upon this clip which immediately got me hooked into wanting to see this film. I actually prefer the clip to the trailer as you get a really great feel for the movie without all the details of the trailer which gives you almost everything. The basic plotline is that Ryan Gosling is a getaway car drive and in the clip I’ve linked to, seems to be a pretty knowledgable and cunning one. The only diolauge you hear is from the police scanner in the car, everyone else is silent and you can feel the tension from everyone. The film won best director at the Cannes Film Festival in May so it definitely has a lot going for it.

MONEYBALL (September 23) :: There are a bunch of different reasons why I want to see Moneyball. Probably the first being that Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct Brad Pitt in this baseball story about managing the Oakland A’s. However, Soderbergh eventually dropped out and then I didn’t really hear anything for a while until the trailer for the film came out this summer. Once I saw the trailer though, the film still looked pretty intriguing to me. For whatever reason baseball always seems to lend itself to making better sports movies than other sports do. Off the top of my head I can’t name any bad baseball movies. In any case Moneyball is being strongly compared to The Social Network, Sony Pictures other Oscar contender from last year that was released around the same time.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (limited release October 21)
LIKE CRAZY (limited release October 28)
It wouldn’t be a Filmspotting type list if I didn’t have a tie on here somewhere. Both M4 and Like Crazy received a ton of praise and buzz coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival . I basically only know the storyline of each of the movies (see links above for trailers & plot synopsis), but from everything I’ve read, the performances in both these films are worth seeing on that alone. I’m hopeful that we’ll eventually get them here at Kahala or something so that I can check them out.

TOWER HEIST (November 4) :: People can say what they will about director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour/s, X-Men Last Stand), but from the trailer alone this movie looks like a fun ride with an all star cast. Ratner brought back Eddie Murphy for Tower Heist and he’s that confident in his star that he pushed for him to be next year’s Oscar host. How can anyone say no to this movie?

IMMORTALS (November 11) :: Again, this is another case of me falling in love with a movie just by watching the trailer. If you made a sequel for 300 and mashed it up with Clash of the Titans, I’m pretty sure you’d get Immortals. I was a big fan of 300 even before it was released and ever since then similar movies have never quite looked as good. I’m hoping that’ll change with Immortals. I have no idea what the story is about, but the visuals alone look amazing and you’ve got future Superman Henry Cavill in it as well.

Honorable Mentions

I’ve got a few honorable mentions here that I wanted to share as well:

CONTAGION (in theaters) :: It didn’t fit into the release window that this list was limited to so I stuck this pick here. A commercial Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, 12, 13, Che, Out of Sight) joint with a large ensemble cast battle the worldwide spread of a deadly disease/virus. It’s a solid film that shot and put together really well. Definitely worth checking out.

50/50 (September 30) :: I had to cheat and put 50/50 in my honorable mentions since I already saw it and wanted to have more to talk about above. I’m already putting 50/50 in my list of top films of this year. The mix of humor and drama is great and you definitely will laugh and cry (or at least get choked up a little bit). When it comes out later this month I encourage you to check it out.

THE IDES OF MARCH (October 7) :: This is George Clooney’s 4th feature film that he’s directing and it’s got a solid cast along with him which includes Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright in a film about electoral politics and drama. I think it’s worth checking out for the cast alone.

SHAME (no release date set) :: Coming into the fall festival/awards season Shame has been one of the most talked about films of the year due to its graphic depictions of sex and male nudity. However, film critics everywhere seem to be talking about the film and going ga-ga over it and it definitely has me intrigued. One of the challenges that people seem to agree on is that if released in the US, the film would most likely receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA–a big enough hurdle for both distributor and theater exhibitors. The film was just picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures at the Toronto so no date has been set for release. We’ll see if it makes it way to Hawaii late this year or early next year.




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