6 Degrees: About the Oscars

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6 Degrees of Film

Greetings to all my 6 Degrees Film Fans: I have taken time off these past months, but now we have worked to retool the website and offer more features on 6 Degrees. In the coming months, we will include more articles and giveaways, as well as more in-depth coverage and news about films past & present.

One of the reasons I did take a break was to look back at the work I had done over the past decade and assess where we are in terms of film criticism today as well as evaluating the entire business of film-making. In last year’s review of coming attractions, we talked about the disappointing preview of films that were coming out in 2019. The films that I had recommended in 2019 were on a very short list. A few of them are competing this weekend at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Once upon a Time OScars 2020

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was one of Tarantino’s best films in years. And Di Caprio gave a stellar performance in it. Knives Out was a good film also, but most of the publicity and buzz in the latter half of 2019 surrounded the latest Star Wars film-The Rise of Skywalker, as well as the Avengers: Endgame film finale, which became the highest grossing film of all time. Some of these films are entertaining, but many of them are not worth seeing on the big screen.

Avengers Endgame 2020

It’s still a transitioning time in Hollywood. The #MeToo movement has finally caught up with Hollywood moguls, and the diversity and #OscarsSoWhite is a phenomenon that has been with us for a while. The Good News: More women and more people of color are finally recognized in movies. But the statistics still tell us there’s a way to go…

In my book, 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village, I have a short section on the Academy Awards, which is coming up this weekend. Some of the things I wrote about in 2013 are even more relevant today. Here’s the excerpt:

6 Degrees of Film: On the Academy Awards
One of my biggest beefs is that even in the twenty-first century
the Academy Awards show looks a lot like a holdout from a
bygone era. The glitz and glamour are not as believable when
there is so much more to the film industry in the modern era.
The age of computer imaging and video games and the type
of sophisticated special effects used in modern films are barely
acknowledged. Little mention is given to the separate awards
ceremony held for the scientific and technical awards.
James Cameron invented a new method of filmmaking, and
George Lucas and others initiated many breakthroughs in the
way we see things on film. But none of these accomplishments
are honored. New categories should be created to acknowledge
these developments so they can be brought to the public’s
attention.

The global village of filmmaking is compartmentalized
into one or two categories of short films and the foreign film
category. Even though Slumdog Millionaire won several Oscars
in 2009, the film is treated as if none of that ever happened.
The encapsulated world of Hollywood elites still appears to be
fairly homogenized (barring a few obligatory jokes about Jews
in Hollywood). The only nod to the changing of the guard
was in 2010 when Barbra Streisand handed the Best Director
award to a woman (Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker) for the
first time, and when Halle Berry, the first African American
woman to receive the Best Actress award, acknowledged
Hattie McDaniels and all of the women of color who had
come before her.
If Hollywood and filmmaking are a large part of the
American persona, and this show is one of our best chances
to advertise our unique and diverse American way of life,
then why doesn’t Hollywood pull out all the stops on these
occasions? Instead, the powers-that-be in Hollywood present a
timid and tepid tribute to films in a way they have done many
times before. Shouldn’t there be some acknowledgement of
innovation? To my mind, that is “the stuff that dreams are
made of,” which Bogart spoke of so long ago.

That’s all for now friends, and we’ll talk some more about the winners of this year’s 2020 Oscars next time. Until then, see you at the movies!-ML