Academy Awards – is it a game of time?

Earlier this year I made a post about how important the Oscars are to me and why they should be taken seriously by more people. Upon reflection I do still stand by the majority of my points, but after researching past winners I have started to see some cracks forming.

It seems as though there are some directors or writers that either don’t get credit for their work where it’s due, or they have to wait a considerably long time to win an award. I’m not trying to say that the Oscars are the most important way of showing how good a film is because obviously that is not the case, but it is a good way of presenting someone with the credit they deserve. As the title suggests I think it is a game of time. Some directors get an award for one of their first films whereas others get one for their later films. It’s interesting to see a comparison between the two.

Cast your mind back to early 2007. The Academy Awards are on the screen, and the even progresses until we reach the award for best achievement in directing. The nominees are rattled off one by one and the envelope is ready to be opened. No one really bats an eyelid until we hear the winner is announced; Martin Scorsese. For those who don’t take a lot of interest in film, it’s not a big moment. For those of us who do, it’s a moment that has been over thirty years in the making. Seeing Martin Scorsese finally make his way up to that stage and collect his Oscar was a big moment. It saw an incredibly talented director receive a standing ovation. Along with the thoughts of happiness and respect there is an underlying question in film lovers minds; why didn’t this happen sooner?

Before 2006, Scorsese had made some amazing films. ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Gangs of New York’, ‘Raging Bull’. The list goes on and on and yet none of these films had gained him an Oscar. The film that eventually did in 2007 was ‘The Departed’ which I know a lot of film critics disliked because it is a remake of the Chinese film ‘Infernal Affairs’, but I really like the film. I think it is very well directed, the acting in it is superb, and I really like the screenplay for the film. I’m glad it won Scorsese and Oscar and I was very happy for him when it happened, but I still find it very surprising that it didn’t happen sooner. The Departed is one of my favourite films from Scorsese but I can admit it’s not his best piece of work. If I had to give him an Oscar for directing it would probably be either ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) or ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) but curiously the Academy doesn’t seem to agree with popular opinion.

Then at the opposite end of the scale we’ve got Sam Mendes, a director who won his Oscar for the third piece of work he directed; ‘American Beauty’. Now I absolutely love ‘American Beauty’, it is an artistic masterpiece that I could watch over and over again and never get bored of it. The imagery that is used is very clever and helps develop the complexity of the film, which along with the witty screenplay and Kevin Spacey’s incredible performance as a middle aged man going through a turn in his life, it made a film that was very impressive. It just goes to show how there is a real time gap between talented film makers receiving awards. Both films deserved their Oscars without a doubt, but it just goes to show how there has been a change in how the Academy views new film makers. In Mendes’ case they spotted it straight away, but with Scorsese perhaps it took time for audiences to realise the true genius behind his films?

Now if we shift forward to the present day and take a look at one of the best talents of modern cinema; Paul Thomas Anderson. The recently turned 43 year old writer/director who hasn’t made that many films but the ones he has made are genius. ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Punch Drunk Love’, ‘Magnolia’, ‘There Will Be Blood’ and then recently ‘The Master’. All incredible films that are spectacularly written and very well directed using an artistic style that puts a different twist to modern cinema. How many Oscars has he been nominated for? five. How many has he won? none.

After a film history as impressive as he has, it’s surprising to see him still without an Oscar. I’m starting to wonder if it is going to be like Scorsese. Will PTA have a career filled with incredible films but have to wait a while to get an award from the Academy? I’m hoping that it won’t be the case. We’ve already seen evidence of what PTA is capable of, including one of my all time favourite films ‘There Will Be Blood’ which was just stunning. ‘There Will Be Blood’ was a very clever film that really challenged the audience and displayed PTA’s true talents as a director and writer. His work is usually along the lines of what Mark Kermode describes as “Intelligent cinema for clever people” (only paraphrased). It can’t be too long until the Academy acts wisely, but they may be playing the time game with him and waiting until a certain point.

So this year and indeed next it’s safe to say that I will be keeping a close eye on the Academy Awards. Scorsese has a new film out this year ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ which does look very good, hopefully it will be another Oscar win for him but only time will tell. As for PTA he has another film coming out next year ‘Inherent Vice’ which is set in the 70s. A very interesting time period combined with a director with a unique visual style and artistic approach to films. Already it is sounding very promising so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.

As usual feel free to leave any comments about the topic, it’d be interesting to see what you have to say about the topic or indeed the films mentioned. 

Until the next time; au revoir. 

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