Last night’s Academy Awards was the first time since 2007 that all the Best Picture nominees won at least one Oscar and back then there were only 5 nominees. Not only did all 8 of this years’ films win something, but among the 18 primary awards (no offense to documentaries, short films, etc.) they all went to the 8 Best Picture nominees except for 2 – Best Actress (Julianne Moore, Still Alice) and Best Visual Effects (Interstellar). To me this really highlights a couple of things.
First, the movies nominated for Best Picture really were the best of the year. I find it interesting that the other two that won awards were actually two that I suggested should have been included in the Best Picture race as well. The work of these film makers were all honored well and nobody went home empty handed.
Secondly, the Academy didn’t just fall in love with one movie and elevate all of its components to Oscar-winning caliber. They spread the love. It has happened on many occasions when a film gets so much momentum with the Academy that they reward individual work based more on the film as a whole. Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars. Eight! No such delirium this year. Although I was hoping the Academy would get swept up by Birdman enough to give Michael Keaton the Oscar for Best Actor. But alas, Eddie Redmayne was unbeatable and really did deserve to win.
I don’t think I’d say “gone are the days” but I would say that in the future it will take a really remarkable film to win 6 or more Oscars. The Academy has really turned the corner on this as evidenced in recent years. Since Slumdog was bludgeoned by a bevy of statuettes in 2008 there has only been one film that even got close and that was last year when Gravity rightly won every technical award under the sun, 7 in total. This year, two movies won 4 Oscars, one won 3, and the other winners each took home 1 award.
This is such a good thing for film buffs. We all know in the end it’s all about the box office dollars, but every studio wants to win Oscars and with Awards-minded studio execs seeing that big success at the Oscars might mean 3 or 4 wins as opposed to 7 or 8, it will be interesting to see if they take more risks on small films like Whiplash (3 wins) or The Grand Budapest Hotel (4 wins, same as Birdman) and feel like they did well. If they don’t feel they have to shoot for the moon and find the next Ben-Hur to have a chance on Oscar night will they forego putting all their eggs in one basket and maybe be more likely to greenlight more great, small-budget smart movies? I hope so. Because when they do, everybody wins.