Considering that it costs studios hundreds of millions of dollars in campaigning and doesn't in any way guarantee a film's box office success, winning an Academy Award is purely a vanity prize. It's a way for producers to hold their heads up, knowing that their empire isn't solely built on Jennifer Lawrence's angry face or charming Chris Pratt abs. More importantly, indie and Oscar-bait films are to artistic innovation what James Cameron and Peter Jackson are to the technical kind. Awards season is a time in which filmmakers can break abstract ground, like shooting a movie over the span of 12 years or making your story look like one continuous shot.
IFC, Fox Searchlight
It's also a great time for pretentious green posters.
But this year, we're faced with a much different dilemma than arguing over which Oscar-bait films are overrated: trying to even name one. Go ahead, name an indie film from 2015 that really broke ground as a Best Picture contender, or surprisingly blew up at the box office. It doesn't exist, because 2015 was a terrible year for arthouse and indie films, too.
So what happened? For starters, indie theaters are dead. And so any cinemas playing small, independent films like Ex Machina are also playing competing studio films like Furious 7. Secondly, there was a huge influx in indie and adult-themed films this year. And when we combine these two factors, we get one of the worst Oscar seasons ever. It started in October -- a month in which this happened:
20th Century Fox
No, not for real, you dopes.
The Martian was a terrific Thanksgiving-bound film that was suddenly moved up two months before its release. While that was great for any space farming fans who died on Halloween, this sudden change put the film squarely in the most important month for potential Oscar nominees like Burnt, Truth, and other one-word titles you're hearing for the first time. Instead of seeing those films, audiences were delighted by Matt Damon's charming astronaut banter. But once again: Can you blame them? I can't. That Damon's one hot bowl of gnocchi -- and as I keep saying, the average moviegoer doesn't have time to see every goddamn film. We're all really, really busy. And so it would be nice for someone in Hollywood to cut the fat so that I don't have to spell it out for them. Considering how uneducated I am, it's getting embarrassing.
David is an associate of science with a certification in high-school-level academic skills, which he'll be happy to discuss on Twitter.
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