Columns, Is It Just Me Or, Opinion

Are ‘Oscar movies’ easier to watch for younger generations? | Is It Just Me Or?

As the 2024 Academy Awards approach, cinephiles and casual movie-goers alike are finalizing their personal Oscar ballots and finishing their viewings of every Best Picture nominee. 

For some, certain films are easier to understand than others. But it feels as though the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are nominating movies that may not hold the prestige associated with the conventional films that get nominated. 

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Senior Graphic Artist

One glaring example of this is “Barbie.” Women and girls everywhere shed a tear when Rhea Perlman perfectly captured what it feels like to be the daughter of a mother. Girlhood took center stage in the culture in 2023 — such as with the popularity of “ballet core” and the coquette aesthetic — culminating in the long-awaited “Barbie” movie. 

The movie was praised by viewers who enjoyed how it held up a mirror to our world by comparing it to Barbieland. However, there was also a slew of criticism saying the movie wasn’t doing enough to uplift women — calling its message “Feminism 101.” 

“Poor Things” also tackled the concept of the human condition and why we do and say the things we do. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone stars as Bella Baxter — a woman revived by a Frankenstein-esque Willem Dafoe with the brain of an infant. 

While her brain is still quite literally in its infancy, it is quite easy for men to manipulate and take advantage of her. As the movie progresses, Bella asks more and more about the world and challenges what everyone else dismisses as the status quo. 

Last year, Best Motion Picture winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once” featured themes about an immigrant family’s relationships and struggles — another “unconventional” Oscar film in a crowded field of projects using the same intellectual property. 

With movies like “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “CODA” and “Parasite” winning Best Picture over the last five years, there is a feeling that the Academy is shifting what stories and films can be considered “Oscar-worthy.” While the days of “Oscar-bait” are far from over, the increase of movies that defy what the Academy traditionally goes for is refreshing.

Movies that the Oscars tend to favor are biopics and those based on historical events — “Spotlight,” “12 Years a Slave” and  “Argo” are all Best Picture winners in the last 10 years that in some way or another were based on true events or people. This year, “Oppenheimer,” “The Zone of Interest” and “Maestro” cover this vein of film. 

While these types of movies are treasured by some, they stand firmly in stories of the past — working off of true events, memoirs or biographical information. There is only so much innovation and unique messaging that can be portrayed in a film where the audience enters the theater already knowing the ending.

This may very well be a battle between generations — young adults are just starting to see stories they can deeply relate to, but older generations have the wisdom and experience to appreciate historically accurate storylines and movies made about the struggles they encountered in their young adulthood. 

It is an interesting turning point where stories are being told that some parents can’t quite wrap their heads around, but familiar conflicts, technology and relationship dynamics enthrall their children. Oscar voters and the class of professionals who determine the outcome of these awards tend to be older, white and male, according to 2022 Statista data

While critical acclaim and awards season success are not defining factors of a film, it can be validating for writers, directors, producers and actors. So, for these governing bodies to be older — and most likely less open to the dynamic storylines of new films — it has taken a lot for new and compelling stories to be rewarded. 

In an idyllic situation, the Academy would continue expanding its bloc of voters — including more women, people of color and younger professionals  — to better represent the general audience and further inspire young filmmakers and artists. 

Furthermore, if the Academy continues to progress and prioritize diversity, hopefully further discourse and bring new ideas to the forefront. Young and older artists would discuss the future of film and continue to cultivate a creative industry that applauds innovative storytelling, so that audiences can reap the benefits of more unique and exciting films.

More Articles

Comments are closed.