Preparing for The Academy Awards, the biggest night in Hollywood



Seth Mecklenburg | Arts & Life Co-Editor

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, the 86th annual Academy Awards will air with host Ellen DeGeneres. The “Oscars,” as the award show is referred to, is the most highly regarded award show in the film industry. Televised live, Hollywood comes together to celebrate the previous year in cinema and those that produce and work on the best films.

The Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences generally likes to celebrate the most powerful and emotionally resonant films of the year. This year’s Best Picture nominees are as follows: Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Philomena, American Hustle, Her, Nebraska, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Assistant Professor of Theater David Walker is teaching a class this semester called “Film Studies.” He says the Oscars are a way to see what is trending in cinemas.

“It’s taking the pulse of where the film industry is today, looking at the films that were released, and deciding what deserves credit as the best,” Walker said.

Walker says they don’t always get it right but that there also isn’t a list that can just be checked off. Also, not everyone sees all of the films. That is certainly the case this year, as Walker himself hasn’t seen most of the films.

“Having kids makes it hard; we want to see them, but the kids can’t watch a lot of the same films that we can. I have seen most of the animated films,” Walker said.

Over the years, Walker has gained an increasing appreciation for documentaries; he says it’s helpful since Buena Vista University (BVU) does many documentary style works. This brings us to why people who don’t work in the film industry or know much about it watch the Oscars.

“Your average filmgoer watches because of the celebrity, the red carpet event, but it’s also that bench mark of what films can be. Sometimes it strikes a chord; sometimes you don’t like it at all,” Walker said.

The Oscars try to award the most inspirational films of the year that will stand the test of time. Walker is looking forward to seeing films that are nominated, especially Her.

“It holds that mirror up to society. It looks at us, where we could be going and where we already are. I’m not going to be in space (Gravity), I’m not a slave (12 Years a Slave), I’m not in the seventies or a con artist (American Hustle), I’m not giving a baby up for adoption (Philomena), a ship Captain (Captain Phillips), an old man with dementia (Nebraska), I don’t have aids (Dallas Buyers Club) and I’m not “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Those are slices of things I haven’t lived, where Her looks at where our society is and how reliant we are on technology. How close we are to it,” Walker said.

Film is subjective, and many people have many different tastes. Senior Theater major Carly Demro wants to work in the film industry one day. She is currently taking the classes “Film Studies” and “Psychology in Film.” She says she doesn’t always like film for the same reasons the Academy does.

“It’s fun to see what is getting recognized and which ones aren’t that I thought would. I have not seen many of the nominees this year. Most often I can agree with why they win. Great story, good acting, the quality is there. Sometimes they might not be ones that I connected with or that are funny, but I like to compare them,” Demro said.

Demro says she really enjoys comedies, and those don’t get recognized as much. However, she does have a favorite this year, and she likes seeing all of the different categories.

“I think it’s important that the actors and the crew are recognized for the great work that they do, but I also like seeing the technical side of things that are nominated. Like the animation, sound, editing, costumes, all kinds of stuff that people don’t always think about that is super important,” Demro said.

Everyone has their favorite, even when they haven’t seen all of the films, and Demro is no different.

“American Hustle was fantastic. I would pick it for everything, but I haven’t seen most of the other films.” Demro said.

When it comes down to it, you don’t have to know the difference between “sound editing” and “sound mixing” to enjoy Oscar night. You can see the stars and filmmakers of movies you want to see or have already seen. Even if you are upset your favorites are not being celebrated, you can get an inside look into the world of film, one of the most powerful forms of art. You can disagree with the outcome, and that’s part of the fun.

Add in the quirky and funny Ellen DeGeneres hosting for a second time, and it’s a night to be locked down in your calendar. You could even do your homework while being a part of Hollywood’s biggest night.