If the Oscars can be more receptive to international cinema

If the Oscars can be more receptive to international cinema

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The opportunity for a larger audience. Just because American interest in the Oscars is waning doesn’t mean there isn’t interest outside of the country. Just as international cinema is as popular today in the US, US cinema is as popular as ever outside the US. Streaming is a huge boon to allow access to the cinema of other cultures that was not previously possible. It would be a shame to not embrace the diversity of film to its fullest extent. Of course, giving the spotlight to non-English films also takes away some of the attention to English/traditionally American cinema. Some areas of the industry, and fans of film, may not appreciate this type of a change. But that’s exactly the type of perspective which has held the Oscars back for so long. Adhering to tradition for the sake of tradition is not going to bring in new interest from those people who don’t have a connection to that tradition in the first place. Focus should be placed on broadening the appeal of film, not limiting it because of selfish reasons. An overhaul of the nomination and voting process is also necessary. Currently only members can nominate films, and only those working in the same area of expertise can nominate a film for a specific category. For everything except Best Picture the voters nominate 5 potential nominees (for Best Picture it is 10) ranked 1-5. Nominees are chosen based on the cumulative score of their rankings. Final winners are based on number of votes, except for Best Picture which is again based on ranking.

There are good reasons for the ranked voting. First, it prevents a nominee/winner from being chosen if it is not considered in the majority of votes. Second, it allows for more diversity of films to be considered. The expansion of Best Picture nominees from 5 to a maximum of 10 was also made to help incorporate more films. For the majority of cases, this process has worked out fine, but you could make the argument that this method of voting dilutes the awards. For Best Picture, the problem is that there are now a wider variety of films to split votes. This means if there is not one film which is the clear-cut favorite among voters, you can have a second or third-place film win the award just because it shows up on more ballots. Even when there were only 5 Best Picture nominees, this issue is likely to have arisen. Look back at Best Picture winners over the years and see how rarely the Academy selects a film which today would be considered to be the best of the year.

We all look back at Oscar winners and can make suggestions of more worthy winners and nominees. Part of the decline of the Oscars is the idea that the awards don’t always go to the most deserving films. This dilutes the impact of the awards over time. There are several potential reasons for this. First and foremost has been the traditional lack of diversity among the voters. If the same type of professionals are always voting, they are going to continue to vote for the same types of films over and over. Age, gender, and ethnic/cultural background will play a big role. The Academy has been working on being more inclusive with its membership, but it still feels like it is too little, too late.
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