I know you’re probably getting sick of me banging on about diversity at the Oscars by now but I’m tired of hearing people say “it’s about quality, not diversity”. Yeah, in an ideal world. This isn’t an ideal world. What the people using that argument are either stubbornly, naively, or purposefully not seeing is that the system is weighted against diverse entries. The voting system is a joke. The first round lets all members of the Academy vote for whichever eligible films they want in their related categories. You don’t have to have seen all of the films. We know that a lot of members are quite traditional (see Martin Scorsese and his hatred of comic book movies) and have specific ideas of what should and shouldn’t be eligible (see Steven Spielberg’s comments on Netflix). How many of those eligible to vote will have bothered to go out and watch Hustlers to see that J Lo gave a much better performance than Scar Jo did in Jojo? We also know that Hollywood champions films that will make money and they don’t think films with diverse casts or storylines will make money. Then there are the smaller film companies who can’t afford to put on a huge campaign for their films/stars. They are blown out of the water by the bigger film studios who can shove their big-name stars in front of everyone. Look at Brad Pitt’s Oscars campaign this year. Flawless. Even down to his photos with ex-wife Jennifer Aniston. He’ll have had a great deal of backing. Smaller movies, less well-known actors won’t get that opportunity. Therefore, they don’t grab attention in the same way. The system is weighted towards a certain type of films and those films are, typically, not diverse. Those films don’t typically have female directors. So, stop saying it’s only about quality. Until we have a system that sees every film get a fair chance, diversity needs to be discussed.
I’ve never been a science person. I just don’t have the right mind for it. If you don’t believe me then you can ask my school teachers. I was definitely best at chemistry which is the only reason behind my implausible decision to study it for my A-Levels. My friend and I were so bad at the subject that, upon hearing we were both applying to Oxford, our teacher laughed at us. Turned out this was quite an astute assessment as I didn’t even get an interview but still mean. Still, it does go to highlight my obvious lack of a scientific mind. I’ve always been more of the dreamy and creative type. Still analytical, obviously, but with a more sentimental than structured focus, I guess. When faced with numbers and equations I just don’t really care. Give me words, music, or art and I’m much more comfortable.
Hollywood is full of stories of childhood stars going off the rails thanks to the early starts to their careers. The pressure of work and being forced to grow up in the spotlight have caused so many young performers turning to addictive substances to get through their days. These days, it’s the kind of thing that sells awful gossip mags, celeb blogs, and gives everyone a good laugh on social media. Back in the day, young performers were encouraged by film studios to do what they needed to make it. Which is how we get to the story of Judy Garland. According to Garland, she was constantly fed amphetamines so she was able to keep up with the hectic filming schedule. She was also advised to diet constantly and act a certain way. These things, she believed, caused to her lifelong struggle with drugs, alcohol, and dieting. Things that all contributed to her death at the age of 47. It was a premature and tragic end to a wonderful talent. And has been a dream of a role for Renée Zellweger. I still can’t separate Zellweger from her Bridget Jones days, so I wasn’t convinced by all of these people talking about how outstanding she was. I guess I had to check it out.
I have a certain love for Elton John. I definitely grew up listening to his music and, because I’m not one for change, have continued to listen to him as I grew up. I remember us having the ‘Candle in the Wing’ CD single that was released in honour of Princess Diana. ‘Candle in the Wind’ is a decent song but that wasn’t the song I was interested in. The CD also featured ‘Something About the Way You Look Tonight’ and I loved that song so much that I would play it on repeat. I still love that song because he sounds incredible. But I’m getting off-topic. What I’m trying to say is, I was excited about the release of this film even before I’d seen any of the trailers. When they came out, it only made it worse. Taron Egerton was perfectly cast and the whole thing looked fucking insane. The perfect antidote to the tame Bohemian Rhapsody. This really looked like the kind of biopic that Elton John would want. It was loud, over-the-top, and brutally honest. Yet, as most films do these days, its release came and went without me doing anything about it. Although, actually I was supposed to see it with a work friend but then I selfishly got another job and it became a nightmare to organise. This weekend I decided it was time.
The Oscars took place over a month ago and I’m still banging on about them. I know I know. Broken record much? But it’s one if the biggest and most controversial events in the movie lovers calendar. For the most part, this year wasn’t the most exciting. Once again, many amazing and worthy films/directors/actors were ignored and many worthy films/directors/actors got looked over for more Oscar-y films/directors/actors. I write this in the midst of Steven Spielberg’s outrageous idea to get Netflix films banned from being nominated in the future. I’d love to go into that whole argument now and rant about Spielberg’s general irrelevance these days but, as it’s my birthday, I feel like I should take the high road. So, instead let’s talk about one of the biggest surprises that came out of last Saturday that was also one of the most underwhelming. Rami Malek gave a great performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and I think that he definitely deserved the win. However, I don’t think many were convinced he would. The Best Actor category was incredibly boring this year as there was no real stand-out. The most remarkable performance for me? Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh. It’s a shame he lost out to it but it’s an even bigger shame that his loss isn’t as a big of a deal as it should be.
Normally, I don’t like to take too much notice of critical ratings before I go and see a film. I prefer not to be affected by what other people think. But the mixed reaction to Bohemian Rhapsody did concern me before I saw it. All of my friends who’d seen it had aid it was worth watching, which went along with the majority of fan feedback. However, I couldn’t ignore the fact that so many critics were disappointed. This was one of those films that should have been guaranteed. A biopic of one of the greatest British rock bands with the talented Rami Malik playing the role of Freddie Mercury and directed by Bryan Singer. It should have been perfect but, as we know, the film making process was a huge struggle. Not only was Rami the last in a fairly long list of actors accepting to play Freddie but there were script problems and Singer was replaced by Dexter Fletcher at the last-minute. Singer was reportedly difficult to work with so was thrown off the project with about 3 weeks to go. Talk about drama behind the scenes, eh! So, with all that in mind, it felt like the critical response could have something to it. Meaning I went into this film kind of expecting the worst. But, considering it got a Best Picture nomination, I had to give it a go.