The 91st Annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, will take centerstage on Sunday, February 24, in Hollywood, California. Deemed to be the highest honor given for artistic and technical merit in the film industry and popular for their extravagant ceremonies, the Oscars create a yearly buzz around the nominees and show. Most recently, the Academy has come under scrutiny for a lack of diversity and inclusion (#oscarssowhite), perceived overemphasis on independent films, and a mangled major presentation when LaLa Land was announced as the best picture of the year in 2017 when Moonlight was the actual winner.
For more than 40 years, Richard Smith, professor of theatre, has taught film studies at Hope College in his “Art of the Cinema” class. A specialist in scenography, Smith’s insights go beyond technical artistry as he can address trends, controversies and favorites when it comes to the Oscars such as,
- How do certain actors and actresses, designers and directors, writers and craftspeople rise to the level of “best” in a certain category when so many films are released each year?
- What happened to celebrating the “science” part of films? It is, after all, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that bestows these awards.
- Does this year’s more diverse nominee slate mean the Academy is on the right track toward more inclusion, or do they have more work to do?
- Will the Academy make another attempt to save ratings and relevancy and rethink that “Best Popular Picture” category they proposed but reneged on in 2018?
- And, why hasn’t Meryl Streep won seven Oscars after 21 nominations, instead of three? Or, why does Leonardo DiCaprio have 11 noms and just one win? And what about Spike Lee, who after 30 years directing notable films, finally received his first best director nomination for BlacKkKlansman? Hard luck? Politics? Or, is it really just an honor to be nominated?!