I should begin this article by stating that I love films, and have probably watched in excess of 300 of them in my time. Should this number seem exaggerated, consider this, I have seen all Alien movies (7), Die Hard (6), Lord Of The Rings (3), The Hobbit (3), Marvel & X-Men (31), James Bond (24), Star Wars (10), Star Trek (13)… so there’s around 100 films without breaking a sweat.
I should also make the point that I think actors and actresses should be extolled for their performances, it’s like a gold medal at the Olympics.
My issue is simply that when considering art (and yes all films are an artistic expression), any opinion is subjective. I love a good sci-fi or super hero movie, I have already expressed my enjoyment of both Star Wars and Star Trek in a previous article. That doesn’t mean I am limited to those 2 genres, they are just my favourites.
To begin my argument, let’s start at… well, the beginning.
According to one story I read, there was a guy called William, who discovered Thomas Edison’s video technology, yes I know he did that light bulb thing, but he also created the kinetoscope. Now you can look through the history of this if you wish. You will find the Lumiere Brothers being credited as the first film makers, and many other twists and turns, but I’m not here for that. William is said to have copied Edison’s technology, moved to Hollywood and set up his own film company. So here we have to acknowledge that some of the technology that underpins Hollywood was… well… pirated. I’ll just leave that there… what’s that… his surname? Originally it was Fuchs, but that was changed to Fox… of the 20th Century kind.
Let’s move on.
The first films didn’t include the actor’s names, studios realised if they were included in the credits, the actors would become the stars, and get paid lots of money… Tom Cruise is said to have earned $100million from Mission Impossible 2… so I guess they were right.
They would also bypass black actors and instead have white actors ‘black up’ to play black roles, just like the rest of the world, Hollywood was racist, and made no apology for it.
So that’s my brief history of Hollywood, and I know I missed out a lot, but you’ll see why I picked what I did.
Back to my point.
The most obvious thing for me to do here is give you my top 5 films, and I will happily do so, as your starter for ten (in no particular order):-
The Usual Suspects
Requiem For A Dream
Now, this is where the problem begins, you have just asked me (I volunteered, but that’s not the point) to condense those 300+ films I have watched into a top 5. I could probably give you a top 5 for several different genres. I could include Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, Star Wars, Alien, Man On Fire, Se7en… in fact as I type this Full Metal Jacket is on TV, that should be in there…
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman:
How tall are you, private?
Sir, five-foot-nine, sir.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman:
Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked shit that high.
Bear in mind that I haven’t even indulged my super hero fetish here, otherwise I would be including Thor Ragnorak and Avengers Infinity War as a minimum.
So straight away we have a problem, I have a top 5 that probably most of you will disagree with in some shape or form. In fact, the only person I know on this planet who can confirm his top 5 films is my son… he’s two and a half years old. He likes The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2, Cars, Cars 2 and… wait for it… Cars 3. I know this, as I have watched all of them a dozen times over Christmas.
So there you go, any opinion about art is subjective.
Time to move it on a little.
Let’s get to some recent examples, the first one I wish to address is 2014. 12 Years A Slave won the best film Oscar, and Gravity was also nominated. Let’s look at the nominee first. My boss watched Gravity in 3D and said it was a great film… so I watched it… in 2D… awful. I can review Gravity in a single sentence… SPOILER ALERT… “Woman gets stranded in space, has a bit of a cry, hijacks spacecraft, crash lands on Earth”. Just remember I like a good sci-fi. But to quote Russell Crowe in Gladiator “This is not it.”
Now let’s tackle the winner, it had an all star cast, Pitt, Cumberbatch, Giamatti, Fassbender etc. It was a great story, and the fact it was based on true events made it even better. Unfortunately, when Wolf Of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club were also both nominated, how in the name of all that is holy did it win?
Cast your mind back to my brief history of Hollywood. Racism. This is their way of trying to belatedly apologise for the many indiscretions committed previously. I’m not saying it shouldn’t have got the Oscar, but in my opinion there were better films. So far as I can tell what we have here is a bunch of film executives thinking, we better give it that film or we could be in trouble, and that isn’t how it should work. This isn’t the first time this has happened either, and I’m sure this year we will see Black Panther get some nominations and wins, despite being a super hero movie.
What about 2018? The Shape of Water won, but Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a much better film (in my opinion). I tried to watch The Shape Of Water, but had to turn it off and go stick my head in a vat of boiling of oil, as that was preferable to making it to the credits.
I’m No Sycophant.
You may be sitting there thinking, “He doesn’t like particular Directors”, nope. Guillermo Del Toro (who directed The Shape Of Water) was also responsible for Hellboy 2 and Blade 2, both very good films (told you I liked a super hero flick). Let’s take another example, M Night Shaylaman, he gave us Unbreakable and Split, which are both great films. He also provided us with The Happening, which was a cop out, and The Village, which was… well… different.
So, there you have it, having watched many, many films, I think I am reasonably well qualified to pick out a decent film. I’m not Barry Norman, Johnathon Ross or Mark Kermode (I find him a little pretentious, but that’s just my opinion, he writes reviews for many people, so must know something), but this is entirely my point here. I like my films, and I am not limited to one genre. I gave you my top 5 earlier, but as I have worked my way through this argument I have mentioned several other films that could have made it in there.
One Or Two Final Points
Who votes for the Oscars? Well that job falls to the Academy members, and this basically means if you are a sound engineer, you nominate and vote for other sound engineers. That part of the Oscars is fine to an extent, leave the voting to the experts, but when it comes down to Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, I think the people should vote and we leave all the politics out of it. We are the people that pay to watch these movies, so we should have our say. Allowing Academy members to vote for themselves and their mates is basically blowing smoke up your own arse isn’t it?
Unfortunately, as I may have mentioned once or twice, opinions on art are subjective, and this means I would still probably disagree with the final decision on many occasions.
By the way, my son says he would vote for The Incredibles 2… whatever year it is… and having watched it 27 times… I may have to agree with him.
So to wrap this up, The Oscars are decided by a bunch of corrupt, self serving elitists, and for that reason… I’m out!