Cinema: Award Season
By Ryder Miller

Not knowing what to plan for entertainment in the winter, one might benefit from the Oscar nominations and film awards given early in the year to make the winter season your most busy movie time of the year.  One can focus on Football in January, but there are all those contenders and film award winners that one can catch up on in January and February before the Oscars. The movies give one time so they can prepare to be watch The Oscars which mean more if you are informed and have seen those films and artists and sciendtists that are being considered for awards.

One should know that the Oscars are voted upon by members of the Academy. They are not decided by a small group of people or critics. One might also notice that there are constituencies that are championing their own favorites. These can break down by sexual orientation, race, industry, and position in life. The movies are a way to let people know what your story is. One can suggest a film to another and revel in the irony and sometimes retribution.

The awards are a way for the Academy to vote for something they think needs to be said. It will be the award winners that are usually remembered, but they are not always the favorites of everybody. Not everybody gets to be heard all the time in this country and the movies sometimes are trying to tell some of those stories. A sociologist who is also a movie fiend is likely to make good predictions about what is likely to win for the awards about what is on the screen. They represent the film industry and are voted by many professionals in the field. They do however try to speak for different groups. Sometimes, but not always, the message can be universal.

It is the serious films that are usually chosen for the Oscars. They are not just the fun and entertaining movies like a good adventure or comic book hero movie. They are not usually the action movies. They are films that challenge one’s motivations, values, and ideals. They are usually about war, politics, crime, art or disability. Sometimes they can be a little preachy. They are often films that challenge certain ideas and established groups. In the process they force us to confront unfortunate truths and some of our own guilt.  We are reminded by films that we are accessories in some wrongs that inflict this country and the world. Every group is likely to be offended by something this year as well, but they can’t all win. Change sometimes needs a catalyst and films can start the process. They can disturb us enough so that we might see the world differently and want to change.

The year 2013 gave us a lot of interesting films to choose from. There were only nine instead of ten this year. Everybody usually does not have a favorite that is likely to win.  There is something being considered for an award for probably everyone this year, like many years, but only one of the nine will win.

Films that were chosen for the Golden Globes awards included Twelve Years a Slave in drama  and American Hustle in comedy which are probably the leading contenders for the Oscars this year. American Hustle won the award from the NY Film Critics and Her and Gravity tied the award from the Los Angeles Critics. The Academy is also likely to pick what has won awards already.

It does seem like those who voted for the nominees had a short memory this year.  Most of the movies selected for nominations came out in the last four months. There was much that seemed to be overlooked and forgotten.  Many films also don’t stay in the theaters for very long anymore either. It is easier now to miss some of the good ones on the big screen. There are now other options than the theaters to see them, but one can still see most of what was nominated for Oscars in the theaters still.

The best films do not necessarily have a universal message, but they are outstanding and will have an impact on American culture and maybe to some degree the world. Films can be bigger than their stories, but even with all the folks that work on them the story is an essential part of the art and magic of the cinema. The movies usually have magic and they sparkle, they can take you there, and the winners are usually also moving us forward and not letting us forget.  They have not just done it to you, they also might have done it for you.

RyderRyder W. Miller is an environmental reporter, independent scholar, critic, and eco-critic who writes about Nature, Astronomy, the Sea, Academic books, Art, American Literature, and Genre Literature. He also writes short stories (usually genre stories) and poems. He is the editor of From Narnia to a Space Odyssey and co-writer of San Francisco: A Natural History. He is currently looking for a publisher for a book of Nature Writing/News Columns called An Ocean Beach Diary (published in The West Portal Monthly and Redwood Coast Review), and a collection of genre stories (many already published in Mythic Circle and The Lost Souls website). He has published on the web what could be a book collection of essays about science fiction and fantasy. He is also working on a anthology of Environmental stories called Green Visions. Following the dictum of C.S. Lewis he has come to believe that it is easier to criticize than understand, but not every book is worthwhile or a contribution.