This year’s Academy Awards might be a big deal for some movie fans, but many SAIT students say they plan to give ‘Hollywood’s biggest night’ a big miss.
The annual ceremony to be held on Feb. 9 will see nine films vying for best picture Oscar.
But many students interviewed by The Press recognized only about a third of these films, and most of them don’t plan to tune in to the Oscar show.
“I just don’t watch a lot of movies,” said Emily Raddatz, a business student.
Raddatz said she recognized three of the movies, but Joker was the only one she wanted to check out.
Nicolas Neyrinck, a film and video production student at SAIT, said Joker was the only movie he had seen of the nine nominees.
“I’m very disappointed in myself that I’ve only seen one,” he said.
Joker, which chronicles the origins of the DC comics supervillain, has been nominated for 11 Oscars, and it was the only film that every student interviewed had either seen or recognized.
The controversial film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, also had students divided about whether it should have been considered for the best picture category.
“It was decent, but not the best,” said Ryan Leonard, an information security systems student.
Isik Keklik, a power engineering student, said Joker was his favourite film of the year and that the movie definitely deserves all of the nominations it has received.
Other films in the best picture category that were recognized by the students included Little Women, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Irishman.
The four remaining nominees in the category are Ford v Ferrari, JoJo Rabbit, Marriage Story, and Parasite, which is considered a front-runner for the award.
Many students said they would not be watching the awards ceremony.
Carter Dawood, a business administration student, said he would rather watch the highlights of ceremony on YouTube than watch the show live.
He said he might consider watching the ceremony next year, but only if there were movies nominated that he wanted to support.
“I wouldn’t bother if there are movies being honoured that I haven’t seen,” Dawood said.
He emphasized that the film Avengers: Endgame, the latest in the Marvel Comics series, was the top film of the year in his view, and should have made the best picture list.
One student, Alice Grose, said she watched the awards last year and will likely watch them again this year.
Grose, an academic upgrading student, said she watched almost all of the nominated films last year before the ceremony and then she watched the awards to see who won.
“I was happy with the winners last year,” she said.
Grose said she has not watched as many of the best picture nominees this year, but plans to watch as many as she can in the week leading up to the ceremony.
Low viewership has become a common occurrence for the Academy Awards in recent years. A particular worry for the Academy has been flagging interest among young people.
In response, the Academy membership has considered introducing a “popular film” category to bring in more viewers.
Despite the Academy pushing this potential category back for several years, many students said it would be a great idea.
“Something like that would give people who work on these big movies the recognition they deserve,” said Dawood.
Grose said a popular film category would be a good idea because the movies that get nominated now generate very little interest.
“Nobody’s interested in a movie like Little Women. That’s something my gran would enjoy watching,” she said.
Leonard said he would be more likely to watch the Academy Awards if a popular film category was included, as the movies that usually get nominated aren’t his style.
“Most of the time it’s weird movies no one has heard of,” he said.
I just don’t watch a lot of movies. – Emily Raddatz
Despite optimism at the potential category from students, SAIT film instructor Philip Letourneau said the awards do not belong to the viewer.
“The Academy Awards is the industry congratulating itself,” he said
Letourneau said that while Oscar-nominated films still have meaning, movies in general are as popular as they’ve ever been, and each person will have their own tastes in film.
“Movies are escapism. That’s why we go watch Pikachu,” he said.