The Dinglehopper

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The Academy and the AFI: Deciding Greatness in Cinema?

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grand budapestI have only seen one of the Best Picture Nominees announced this morning, and that’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. I have wanted to see Boyhood and Birdman for months now, but that just hasn’t happened yet. I wish I had a broader knowledge of what and who got snubbed, but from my vantage point, all I can point to is The Lego Movie not getting a nom for Best Animated Feature, which feels like it just has to be a typo, and Joaquin Phoenix for Inherent Vice. But Phoenix is in good snubbed company with Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler and the entire body of non-white actors in movies this year.

But it seems like the Academy’s been losing its credibility pretty quickly over the last decade or so. I no longer expect to like or even be interested in the films it nominates for Best Picture. I don’t share the same attraction to movies that could advertise with: “Based on a True Story.” (4 of 8 nominees could do this.) Should I expect to be interested in more than 3 of the 8 Best Picture Nominees? As a self-proclaimed but admittedly amateur cinephile, I’d like to think so.

What’s more interesting to me, ultimately, than the Oscar nominations for this year is the American Film Institute’s short montage of film scenes by decade from years ending in 4. So it starts with 1894, jumps to 1904, etc. It doesn’t always limit itself to film–there is the occasional television show thrown in. What I found most interesting were these two things: the jumps in visual sophistication decade to decade, and the small realizations of what films all came out the same year. For example, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, and The Lion King were all 1994 films. Whoa, good year.

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Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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