It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore film lover or just a casual surveyor of culture: you probably have an issue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Each Oscar season, we groan about the great films from the previous year that failed to impress the Academy, and complain that this body of filmmakers, actors and industry personalities is out of touch with the zeitgeist. This season, the volume of hostility toward the 6,000 or so voters grew even louder, as several snubs were with women and non-White talent, which got very little representation across the board.
Even if we can’t conceive how any person could think that Bradley Cooper deserves a Best Actor award more than Jake Gyllenhaal, it is also important to acknowledge that many of the nominees are incredibly deserving of the praise. We can gripe about the snubs for audience-friendly blockbusters like The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, but we can also express optimism that the presence of smaller titles like Ida and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya get their time in the sun.
The Oscars allows millions of people to chance to debate passionately about the films and performances they loved and loathed. The focus on the lack of diversity in the major films this year, not to mention the lack of female-oriented stories, may be more indicative of issues within the film industry than these awards. However, the conversation regarding those snubs can only generate better conversation.
Finally, even if we like to gripe with the Academy’s tendency to award the safe and middlebrow above more challenging, daring material, the Oscars have bestowed gold on many essential people in the business. If Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson and Damien Chazelle – or even just a few of the names above – walk off with gold on February 22, that means great talents are getting the recognition they deserve. We can complain about the snubs, but at the same time, we should also praise the Academy for when they get it absolutely right.
On that note, here are 14 moments in the 21st century when the motion picture Academy got it absolutely right.