As the year comes to a close, theaters across the country will be releasing their final testaments to 2018. For the movie buff in all of us, it’s time to celebrate the unofficial beginning of the Oscar season. The next films that will be released in November/December are considered to be “Oscar Bait,” movies that will most likely receive the most nominations in the upcoming 2019 Academy Awards.
After the 2017 “Oscar so White” controversy, the 2018 ceremony featured and honored works from an iconic group of diverse artists. But, with this year coming to a close, the most revered films seem to fall back into a familiar category.
According to Entertainment Weekly’s website, some of the top Oscar contenders for this year include First Man directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling; Beautiful Boy directed by Felix Van Groeningen and starring Steve Carell, featuring Timothee Chalamet; and A Star is Born directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, featuring Lady Gaga. Other top contenders include If Beale Street Could Talk, Boy Erased, Hereditary, and Black Panther.
The biggest issue facing Academy nominations is that many films rely on advertising for a prosperous Oscar campaign. It seems that this year the most advertising, therefore the most Oscar buzz, is leaning towards First Man, A Star is Born, and Beautiful Boy. Films featuring prominent female leads (although Gaga is prominent in A Star is Born, it fails the Bechdel test on multiple occasions) or a diverse cast seem to be set aside, forced to limited releases in theaters. Without the ability to be seen by mass audiences, films made and starring an array of artists continue to be set aside.
To put this into perspective, this year alone, a film featuring the story of a lesbian teenager forced into conversion therapy made by an Iranian American Woman was revered among film festivals. That film, being The Miseducation of Cameron Post directed by Desiree Akhavan, has yet to see a wide release in theaters, and will most likely be disregarded in the Academy considerations this year. Another film titled Skate Kitchen directed by Crystal Moselle was released back in August with no noticeable advertising campaign. It featured the story of one young woman as she befriended a group of female skateboarders. It passes the famous Bechdel test with immense numbers and teaches the value of female friendship. It too will most likely be left in the shadows in 2019.
According to indiewire.com, If Beale Street Could Talk moved its wide release from November 30th, to December 25th, with a limited release on December 14th. In contrast, Black Panther and Hereditary were released way too early for a proper campaign.
Film is an art form and it’s important that expression is heard from more than one perspective. The best way to combat the unfortunate under-representation in films is to get out there and watch films that would otherwise go unnoticed. Hopefully, if more people take part in cinema, it will reflect in Academy Award ceremonies to come.