Photo courtesy of FLICKR.COM
by MATTHEW BAHK
February is well-recognized as entertainment awards season, as the Oscars and Grammys showcase the previous year’s achievements in movies and music.
Also known as The Academy Awards, the Oscars will be presented Feb. 28 for the 88th time. They have already seen backlash since the nominations were announced because none of the actors and actresses honored for best performance reflect racial diversity.
Films like “Concussion” and “Straight Outta Compton” were completely absent from the Oscar nominations. While both are quality films in storytelling and directing, they have been deemed not “on par” in comparison to other films recognized by the Academy.
For a while, the internet and part of social media were publicizing the hashtags #BoycottOscars and #OscarsSoWhite in opposition to the Academy’s decision regarding nominees. However, since the Academy members choose nominees based on their preferences for acting skill, race is not a required factor in choosing them. Will Smith, whose performance as lead actor in “Concussion” was not nominated, has reportedly joined the Oscars boycott.
In January, the Academy announced a new membership system designed to recycle and rotate members of the Academy, trying to prevent another situation like the current one. This is planned to take effect in late 2016, with hopes of having more diversity in voting members by 2020.
Big industry films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” ($150 million budget) and “The Revenant” ($135 million budget) are competing nominees for “Best Picture,” along with the $6 million budget film “Room.” While film budget is not primarily a factor in determining the Oscar winner; the profit may hold some significance to obtain votes.
Interestingly, variety.com lists all of the Oscar nominated films with their budgets and their worldwide box office take (the film’s total sales), and continues to update that film’s total profit percentage. “The Martian” leads the pack, totaling a $609 million profit and a 458% total financial return. Other films over 200% include “The Big Short,” “Spotlight” and “Brooklyn;” however, these films had budgets under $30 million, meaning it would be easier for these films to have a higher financial return.
Academy voters choose films based on preference, whether it is on film presentation or quality; however, it is possible for members to be influenced by other factors, like the profit a film makes or anything that member thinks is important, like cinematography of the film, when casting votes.
At the Oscars Ceremony, awards will be presented in categories like “Sound Editing,” “Production Design” and “Visual Effects” along with the more top-tier awards like “Best Picture” and “Actress in a Leading Role.” The special awards and nominees for the Oscars are chosen by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; voting for nominations ended Jan. 8 while voting for awards closed Feb 13.
The awards show will feature host Chris Rock, along with guest presenters and performers including Louis C.K., Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan Gosling, Jason Segel, Pharrell Williams and The Weeknd.
The 58th annual Grammys gave 83 different awards during their televised Feb. 15 ceremony. These awards are given by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States for outstanding achievement in the music industry.
“Uptown Funk” won Record of the Year, Taylor Swift’s 1989 album received Album of the Year and “Thinking Out Loud,” written by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge, was given Song of the Year. Kendrick Lamar took home four different Grammy awards for his album To Pimp A Butterfly. The full list of awards given at the 58th Grammys can be found on grammy.com/nominees.
The 2015 music scene was bustling with upbeat-but-emotional and mainstream-but-alternative songs. The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and Alabama Shakes’ Sound and Color album define this stereotype. The Weeknd won Grammys for Best R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind the Madness, and Alabama Shakes received Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical), Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for “Don’t Wanna Fight.”
As new films and music are released and new artists discovered, every product is created with the intention of being something their target audience will find relevant. While winning an award is a testament to that product’s quality, other films and music could be just as excellent.