Another year, another Oscars ceremony done and dusted.
While it was fun to go through all the red carpet looks, one of the big reasons we watch each year is to see whether our favourite actors and actress end up winning that gold statuette and to revel in the schadenfreude of the losing nominees’ reaction to their names not being called out.
For 2019, the Best Actor award went to Rami Malek for his great performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
No surprises there. The guy came into this year’s ceremony as the red hot favourite after picking up most of the big actor awards this season and no amount of weight put on by Christian Bale could curtail that momentum.
Here’s the thing: he absolutely didn’t deserve the award. In fact, most of nominees this year shouldn’t have even been considered for the statuette at all.
This year, four of the five Best Actor nominees are for actors who put on an impression of real people. In fact, a whopping 10 Best Actor statuettes have gone to actors portraying real people in the last 15 Oscar ceremonies. You have to go back to 1998, 1999, and 2000 to find back-to-back winners that didn’t involve portraying actual people.
Acting is an art and the point of art is to allow your creative juices to flow out of every pore, objectivity be damned. When it comes to portraying real-life people on film however, all the subjectivity that comes with art is gone.
With an original character, an actor gets free rein to take their performance wherever they want. But with real-life people, actors are essentially ticking off a checklist on how this person is meant to look, sound, and behave.
There’s meant to be no right or wrong answer to acting but the Oscars have managed to somehow shoehorn in a marking criteria on how to give an award-winning film acting performance. That’s not art, that’s nothing more than a take home exam complete with mathematical formulas.
No disrespect to all the nominees and Rami, they all clearly worked their asses off and produced great performances. But they’re nothing more than glorified impressions and the disproportionate amount of attention being heaped onto them takes away all the hard work actors have put into creating original characters.
Can you even imagine a world where Daniel Day-Lewis (who won an Oscar for playing Abraham Lincoln) wasn’t able to conjure up this acting masterclass in There Will Be Blood?
Among the many things that men need to learn from women, it seems like the Oscars could take a leaf out of that book. In the past 15 years, the Best Actress statuette has only gone to four actresses portraying real-life people.
Hell, we can lower that bar even further. Out of the 30 Oscar-winning Supporting Actor and Actress performances in the past 15 years, only nine were for portrayals of real people.
So in short, pull your finger out, Oscars. It’s called “Best Actor” not “Best Impression”.