|Oprah resisting racist oppression in "Selma"|
Hollywood being Hollywood, where cash is king, movie features had better fill seats. As such, “safe and low risk” pretty much sum up what and how films get made. Case in point, “Red Tails”, which featured an all-star cast and spectacular special effects.
The 2012 World War II flick featured something else: a lousy script. Plagued by cliché dialog, its one-dimensional characters spouted predictable lines that drove a predictable story line. In short, a very important story was rendered irrelevant.
|"Red Tails" missed the mark big time. Blame Hollywood|
“Selma” wasn’t like that. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the motion picture was nothing short of powerful. Its portrayal of Dr. King, his associates and antagonists, was laced with a riveting level of drama befitting the magnitude of that Civil Rights historic period. The film is acclaimed by critics and audiences alike (according to Rotten Tomatoes), and is a must see. There’s something else.
Given the complex story layers and gripping characterizations, “Selma” should have received more nominations than it did from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, the folks who vote for the prestigious Oscars. The coveted Best Director award, in particular. Not everyone agrees however. Some lament the historical inaccuracies built into the story. There’s another, less discussed reason too, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Historical inaccuracy is a common complaint whenever someone creates a biopic. Ever see “JFK”, the 1991 movie that focuses on the assassination of President Kennedy? How about the 1970 iconic war flick, “Patton”? Both, while historically inaccurate (as most cinematic releases are), received multiple Oscar nominations, including best director bids.
|Another woman director snubbed by Oscar|
While racism could be lifted up as the prime suspect for Oscar snubbing director DuVernay (who is African American), sexism looms just as great. It’s sad but true; since 1929 when The Oscars debuted, just one woman has ever won Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, in 2009.
Only three other women have been nominated in 86 years of Oscar history: Lina Wertmuller (“Seven Beauties”, 1976), Jane Campion (“The Piano”, 1993) and Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”, 2003).
How is this even possible? Anybody remember the Tom Hanks fantasy comedy “Big” in 1988. Directed by Penny Marshall, it was the first feature film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million (U.S. box office). Though it was light in tone, it was easily my favorite movie that year. Then again, I’m not an Oscars voting member.
Marshall went on to direct “Awakenings” (1990), which was nominated by the Oscars for Best Picture (but not Best Director). She also directed the gender relevant film, “A League of Their Own” (1992), which featured a predominantly female cast.
It’s ironic that at their core, the demonstration marches in Selma were about voting. With both men and women voting at the Oscars, something sinister and systematic is happening. My guess is it has to do with that old familiar disease feminists and their allies call patriarchy.
Time to take a critical look at Oscar. Check that. It’s time for Oscar to look in the mirror.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.