The fault in recognizing our stars

By: Nathan Helfferich – Staff Writer

Sunday marks one of the biggest nights in Hollywood each year, the 87th annual Academy Awards. The day brings much anticipation, excitement and appreciation as Hollywood’s biggest stars walk the red carpet with hopes of winning a coveted Oscar statue by the end of the night.

Rewind to just over a month ago, and speculation of who would receive nominations for the Academy Awards was finally coming to fulfillment. On par with most nominations driven by opinion of others, controversy permeated nomination day.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the nominations was the fact that no actor of color or female director received any nominations. For many, the most shocking nomination snub came from director Ava DuVernay not receiving a nod for Best Director for her critically acclaimed biopic of Martin Luther King Jr., “Selma.” People are especially upset at this lack of nomination because “Selma” received a nomination for Best Picture. It’s a simple truth that more nominations are given out for Best Picture than Best Director, though.

There’s no doubt that DuVernay most likely deserved a nomination, but at the same time, it’s impossible to nominate every deserving candidate. It’s extremely unfortunate that people are using Oscar nominations to argue racial politics. The fact that her movie got two Oscar nominations is a good indicator that her talent has the potential to lead her to an Oscar nomination and possible win in the future.

Far too often, people measure the success of Hollywood stars by the contents of their trophy case. On any given movie trailer, the odds of seeing “featuring Academy Award nominee (insert Hollywood star here)” are notably high. Personally, I don’t let the number of Academy Awards and nominations impact my appreciation for Hollywood stars and films.

In my opinion, the greatest movie franchise is that of the cunning, suave MI6 agent James Bond. The Bond franchise includes 23 films, with the next installment titled “Spectre” being released in November. Of these 23 films, only four Oscars have been slated. Does the lack of Academy Award recognition change my opinion on the Bond franchise being the greatest of all time? Absolutely not.

The Academy Awards often become a political game, which can be seen through the previous winners of Best Picture. Movies like “12 Years a Slave” (2014), “Argo” (2013), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2009) and “Crash” (2006) are all previous Best Picture winners that included a politically charged plot. While they were all great movies in their own right, it seems as if they were automatically given an upper hand because of their politically charged nature.

Take a look at this year’s nominations. Clint Eastwood’s depiction of the war in Iraq with “American Sniper” picked up six nominations while the World War II movie “Fury” featuring Brad Pitt didn’t receive any. Both movies shined in the eyes of the critics, yet “Sniper” featured a more current plot. It’s possible that politics gave “Sniper” an advantage over “Fury.”

Come Sunday, few of Hollywood’s stars will be lucky enough to give an acceptance speech on the stage at Dolby Theater for the 87th Academy Awards. Regardless of who ends up with the most Oscars by the end of the night, you should still rest easy knowing that your opinion is still valid. If your favorite movie is “Twilight,” by all means, do not let its lack of Oscars affect that opinion (Side note: if “Twilight” is your favorite movie then your opinion is wrong). So, this Sunday, as you watch the Oscars, take a moment to raise your glass to the Hollywood greats that don’t get Academy recognition. Here’s to you, Leo DiCaprio.