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The Oscars Injustice Hits Again

By Isadora Linheira Carlos

 

Patricia Arquette gave “Boyhood,” the early Oscar-frontrunner and masterpiece of independent cinema, its only win at the Oscars, for best supporting actress. Therefore, many movie critics and moviegoers had their hopes let down when the envelope opened by Sean Penn revealed that “Birdman” was the winner for best picture. Once again the gap between the Academy’s decision and popular opinion was inevitably opposite, and many critics dare to say that once again the Academy fell in disgrace with such a poor decision. By Monday morning those critics were out, not many of which were supporting the Academy’s verdict. Many people seem reluctant to accept that a groundbreaking movie like Boyhood had lost to one of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s least impressive films, a film which also earned him his first Oscar as best director.
The reasons why Boyhood’s loss created such shocking reactions to moviegoers are plenty and all of them are very understandable. It all started when a month before the Oscars, Boyhood had odds of 2 to 5 to win best picture – according to Vegas – and Birdman had 18 to 1, a long shot, which leads many to believe Boyhood was robbed – at least from a betting perspective. If you take the time to watch Boyhood you will most likely ask yourself why Boyhood didn’t win instead, or you may find the movie boring. But before you take the risk to find it boring, you need to understand the whole concept behind Richard Linklater’s brilliant work of art.
Hollywood has become an industry focused on amazing sound and visual effects, explosions; make up, twisted turns and the whole “boom” effect. When a movie such as Boyhood – simplistic, no visual effects, no release buzz – comes to the surface, the general preconception is “Oh, just another independent movie, leave it for the hipsters.” The truth is this simple story about a little boy and his family throughout 12 years is so beautifully and naturally explored by Linklater, which is what caught the attention of the Academy to nominate it in the first place.
The artistic triumph of Boyhood’s cast was not only proven by having Patricia Arquette win the Oscar for best supporting actress, but also analyzed in the synchrony and chemistry between the whole cast; a visual and emotional journey able to give the public every sensation transmitted throughout the movie. This also brings us to the second reason why Boyhood should have won the Oscar – Richard Linklater’s work took place in 12 continuous years. We all know how inconsistent Hollywood is, and the ability to keep the same cast for 12 years, and the talent and commitment to incorporate the same characters for so long is so impressive that it almost becomes unbelievable. Linklater could have simply done what every other production does: shoot the whole movie in six months and have the cast change to represent the different ages of the characters. But the challenging and stunning idea of taking it to the next level was what took our collective breath away and blew our minds enough to feel the outrage of hearing Sean Penn announce Birdman as the winner of the night.
Has Hollywood really become a compilation of special effects and famous names? Is there still a space to appreciate art in its most simple and subtle forms? Can new ideas and complex hard work still be acknowledged in Hollywood? Birdman winning as best picture instead of Boyhood leaves us with a very low expectation for movies as art in the next couple of years, let’s say less than 18 to 1.

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