The problem with academy based awards


Greg Hernandez via Wikipedia

The Oscars is considered the pinnacle of achievement in the film industry, yet their picks for winners have been lackluster for decades.

Alex Banerjee, News Editor

Every year the Grammys, the Academy Awards and other board-decided award shows draw controversy from the public on their nominations and decisions. 

This year, the Grammys awarded British pop star Harry Styles with album of the year, prompting shock among music fans around the world.

Fans of other nominated artists such asBeyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Adele as well as general music enthusiasts spoke out against the decision. Several Styles fans have even questioned the decision, citing that many other albums were better than Styles’ 2022 album, “Harry’s House.”

The Grammys has been under fire for their winners for decades, but the sentiment has been increasing steadily in recent years.

Grammys has historically prioritized album sales when choosing their winners, but when Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down” beat  “Purple Rain” by Prince, controversy sparked. 

To stop this from occurring again, the Grammys instilled anonymous review committees that would narrow down the candidates nominees after nomination by the Aacademy members.

This is where problems arose started occurring. Those within the committees would choose the artists, companies, or talents that they knew personally rather than on an objective basis.

The Weeknd, the singer with the highest streamed song of all time, did not receive a single nomination for his 2022 the single, “take my breath”  nor the entire album “Dawn FM.”

At this point, fans and The Weeknd and his fans looked at the corrupt review board that had subjectively ruled out another Black artist for personal gain or profit.

The public did not fully know about the secret committees until in 2020, when  ex-CEO Deborah Dugan had sent a 45 page complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the Grammys.

Within the complaint, Dugan revealed information about the secret committees and that they often had personal motives within their decisions, ruing the transparency of the Grammy’s voting system.

The committee stood for a year later until its removal in 2021, yet the Grammys as a whole still faces a glaring issue with the Grammys as a whole: their basis for deciding what is the best.

As controversial decisions from the Grammys stirred audience backlash, attention has shifted towards another board decided award show: the Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscars. 

With the Oscars only a month away, worries about the academy’s upcoming decisions are starting to sprout. The Oscars are no stranger to questionable choices in not only nominees, but also their winners.

Given the 95- year-long run of the Oscars, it is obvious that they will make some mistakes, but the mistakes commonly come from the Academy and its criteria and system.

2019 PV graduate and 2022 University of Iowa film graduate Vashi Chintalapalli gave his input on the board system, “Like in politics, it’s a group of “elite” doing the hard work for us, and telling us what excellence is,” he stated. 

Chintalapalli continued on how this affects the film industry as a whole. “Because of the notoriety award shows bring to the film, the decisions are often political and are less in favor of art & skill, but what is expected by popular demand,” he explained. “In doing so, the style of film nominated has become sort of insular. Where films have to reach a quota of traits that the academy tends to favor in order to be even considered. It sort of homogenizes what films are considered valuable. We are seeing production companies create in favor of what can be nominated, rather than of what is new and unique.”

An almost formulaic “Oscar-worthy movie” criteria has been created by what production companies have realized the Academy is looking for, which has diluted the film industry for years. As unimaginative movies like ‘The King’s Speech’ have won best picture over truly unique films like ‘Inception’, the industry has become increasingly uniform. 

For over 80 years, the ‘Board of Governors’, a group of mostly older white men, had made the decisions on the nominees elected by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Until 2010, a female director had not won the Academy Award for Bbest Ddirector and for the entire 95 years of the Academy Awards, minority focused and foreign movies have been extremely undervalued.

Oscars prioritizes marketability, which leads to bland and white- focused films receiving praise rather than those who break boundaries and conceptual barriers.

Academy decided awards like the Oscars and the Grammys have been doing this for decades now, prioritizing what sells and isn’t too out of the box over what is actually well made. As formulaic and predominantly white albums and movies continue to win it questions whether the changes in the academies have even done anything for the arts.