Oscar fever is upon us and everyone is speculating about who will win, who will lose, what Jennifer Lawrence will say or do, and what will be worn while it’s all happening. Considering how completely outdated and meaningless the Academy Awards are quickly becoming, there’s an awful lot of hype that still surrounds this joyous night of Hollywood backslapping, and a lot of expectations regarding the outcome of events. So here are a few things on my own Oscars wishlist. Some I’m sure will come to pass, and others will perhaps prove to be simple wishful thinking. All we can really do is wait and see.
6. Leonard Dicaprio Should Lose Best Actor…Again
I have nothing against Leonardo Dicaprio. I think he’s come a long way since his teen idol days and he’s really come into his own the last few years. There’s no doubting that he is a dedicated, passionate, and talented actor. And you know he wants that win. He wants it so bad, and every year he convinces himself he’s going to get it, only to be crushed once the name is called. Heaven knows I love those “crushed Leo” GIFs as much as the next person. As great as he is in the overlong and dreary Wolf of Wall Street, I just don’t think this year is his year – not when confronted with the exceptionally stiff competition. Plus, I think Leo deserves to win for something better than a tired Scorsese cliche of a movie.
5. There Shouldn’t Be Anything Disappointingly Sexist
With Ellen DeGeneres as Oscar host this year, there is ample reason to be hopeful in this area. While it is inevitable that some presenter or winner at some point will say or do something despicably, eye rollingly sexist, we shouldn’t have any worry from the dependable DeGeneres. While there was plenty to complain about with last year’s Seth MacFarlane (and not for the obvious and contextually incorrect reasons most people will cite aka the “We Saw Your Boobs” musical number – some people have a hard time recognizing satire when they see it), we can rely on Ellen to be both funny and undemeaning. It occasionally happens in comedy that the two are not mutually exclusive.
4. Meryl Streep Should Definitely Not Win
I can’t decide whether I want Streep to win just for the absurdity of the accomplishment, or not to win because I think she is wildly overrated and absolutely does not deserve to win. I never understood what all the fuss was about when it came to Meryl Streep – and this is something I do not say lightly. In generic company it is a mildly shocking thing to admit, but in the film and theater circles that I tend to run in, it is outright sacrilege. How dare I not worship at the shrine of the modern reincarnation of Thespis, actor of actors? Suffice to say, I usually keep my opinion on this subject quiet. If Meryl Streep wins this year, she will be tied with Katherine Hepburn for the most Oscar wins for an actress – although all Hepburn’s were for Leading Roles and one of Streep’s is for a Supporting Role. I think being tied with Hepburn is a pretty lofty position to hold, and that someone else might be more deserving than Meryl Streep to hold it.
3. A Science Fiction Movie Should Win in a Prominent Category
Science fiction gives us grand re-imaginings of our past, the incredible potential of our futures, the examination of our humanity, and the possible consequences of our advancing knowledge and technology. It inspires our scientists, our artists, our philosophers, our engineers, and inventors – and has changed everything about the way we live from cell phones and computers to automatic doors and moving walkways. It challenges us to be better people, holds us accountable for our leaps in progress, and forewarns us of the consequences should we fail in those responsibilities. And yet it is the most under-appreciated and overlooked of genres when it comes to the Academy Awards – often only achieving nods in special effects categories, if anything at all. Gravity may not be purely science fiction, but a win in a prominent category would mean a step in the right direction for the artistic acknowledgement of a long suffering and long deserving genre.
2. It Really Should Run Under Three Hours
There is absolutely no reason at all that the Academy Awards ceremony had to last over four hours last year. No one wants to watch an overblown and over-indulgent celebration of Hollywood commercialism masquerading as a high art awards ceremony – especially if it’s four hours long. Here’s a thought: Cut it way, way down. People will be more likely to actually watch it and will be less likely to recognize how meaningless the entire affair actually is. The first ever Academy Awards ceremony lasted only 15 minutes. The longest ever was four hours and 23 minutes (74th Annual, 2002). I think there’s a happy medium to be found here.
1. Steve McQueen Should Win Best Director
If this happens, it would mark the first time an African American director has ever won for best director – which is really no surprise considering the Academy is mostly made up of a bunch of fogey old white men. It is astounding that in the 86 year history of the Academy Awards that it took 82 of those years for a woman (Katherine Bigelow) to win for best director, that Halle Berry was the first, and so far only, African American actress to win in the Best Actress category (2002), and that an African American has yet to win best director. At least we can say that Ang Lee won best director twice, but that’s still a very short history of very little diversity. I would love to see this happen, but I don’t think it will. What I think will happen is that 12 Years a Slave will win for best picture. If that doesn’t happen, Chiwetel Ejiofor will probably win for Best Actor and that will act as a misguided consolation prize for McQueen (mind you, Ejiofor should probably win Best Actor either way).