Feeling Left Out… – Leeds Student Newspaper

In Newspaper Contributions on November 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Charlie Chaplin

Every awards season there is the same old controversy surrounding the nominations. Of course, this year is no different. Under-representation of certain genres, in the Oscars especially, is certainly not a new phenomenon. Charlie Chaplin’s wonderful performance in ‘City Lights’ as early as 1932 evidenced the first and definitely not the last comic to be snubbed by the Academy’s long-standing prejudice against comedic work, which apparently is of less worth than dramatic acting. Today however, in this new technical age of cinema, production teams are always looking for that shock-factor to boost their box office sales, their reputation, or both. Special effects and film content are their means of doing so, even at the cost of the ceremonies’ discrimination.

Andy Serkis is better known as King Kong in the eponymous film, Caeser in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and  Gollum in Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy based on Tolkein’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’. In 2003, there was a huge drive to get Serkis nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Gollum. His acclaimed work on the trilogy triggered a debate within the film industry regarding the credibility of CGI-assisted acting, and whether or not it was worthy of an Academy Award. Serkis’s mannerisms, body language, facial expressions and voice were all used to create the character. Without Serkis, there would be no Gollum as we know and love him, and of course, now re-imagine him in a way that has consumed Tolkein’s original creation. His raw footage reveals that he puts in just as much effort into his performance as other actors.

The industry just does not know what to do with motion-capture, and so therefore ignores it, leaving it unrecognised.

However, digital production is just as relevant and important in this new technical age of cinema as make-up, costume and, of course, the raw performances of actors. The underrepresentation and undervalued art of motion-capture acting further exposed the Academy’s snobberies towards anything that threatens the high-brow establishment that it deems itself to be.

This attitude problem is further evidenced in Steve McQueen’s recent and surprisingly controversial masterpiece ‘Shame’. ‘Shame’ follows thirty-something New Yorker and sex-addict Brandon Sullivan in such explicit sexual highs and heart-wrenching lows that ensured the film was branded an NC-17 rating in the United States. The film earned its positive critical acclaim. So why was it omitted from nominations? The institution is still so prudish as to exclude films with sexually explicit content from receiving any recognition.

Fassbender, who was tipped to be a winner across the board, is yet another victim of the Academy’s aged voting bloc and merely adds to the pile of great performances snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Of course, the politics, prejudice and performance are all inextricably linked. If a film does not make enough money, it will never be short-listed. In the words of Jason Bailey, ‘it’s all politicized, bought, and sold, seldom having more than a passing acquaintance with actual cinematic quality.’


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