The Oscars have updated their Best Picture policies, but does it even matter?

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Photo by Craig Piersma on Flickr

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hopes to increase diversity in films by implementing new standards.

Jules Appleton, Staff Writer

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released new policies for Best Picture eligibility as a part of their Aperture 2025 initiative on Sept. 8. 

According to the Oscars’ website, the initiative is a “five-year effort to diversify our organization and expand our definition of the ‘best.’”

Films must meet at least two out of four of these requirements:

  1. On-screen, films must have one of the following:
  1. One lead or supporting actor must be a person of color (POC) 
  2. 30% of secondary actors must be members of a marginalized group (women, POC, LGBTQ+, people with cognitive or physical disabilities)
  3. Main storyline is about one of these marginalized groups

 

  1. Off-screen, films must have one of the following:
  1. Creative team (director, editor, etc): One individual must be a member of a marginalized group, one individual must be a POC
  2. Six other crew/team and technical positions (gaffer, script supervisor, etc) must be a member of marginalized group
  3. Overall crew must be made up of 30% POC

 

  1. Industry Access, films must have:
  1. Unpaid/paid interns: One must be a member of a marginalized group, one must be a POC
  2. Training/work opportunities for “below-the-line” (foley artists, setpainters, stage hands, etc.) jobs must be offered to members of marginalized groups

 

  1. Studio/Production Company, films must have:
  1. Multiple in-house senior executives working in marketing, publicity, and/or distribution must be a member of a marginalized group.

 

These rules will not be fully enacted until the 2024 Oscars.

For the past few years, I have not viewed the Oscars as an actual judge of quality but merely as a pretty distraction for a few hours. 

Most of the time, movies are nominated because of their popularity, politics or pandering to the liberal Hollywood elite. This past year was a bit different though, as the Korean film Parasite won Best Picture. 

For the first time in a long time, one of the best films of the year actually won. It was a funny, uncomfortable and unique portrayal of class struggle and familial relationships. It was beautifully shot, well edited and had great production design. But unfortunately,  I don’t count on these rules helping brilliant movies like Parasite.

The Oscars have a long history of picking films like Precious or Black Panther, just because they have a diverse cast or story. 

This is a bit insulting because it seems as though these films are only nominated because they have a diverse cast or story, not because they are actually Best Picture worthy. While diversity is important, it is the quality of the art, and those who work on said art, that matters the most. 

If anything, I hope that these rules allow for films of both diversity and quality to be nominated. But I’m not holding my breath. 

On a critical note, these rules also take away artistic vision and merit. Films like last year’s The Lighthouse (which was royally snubbed), an A24 film about two sailors going mad, would likely not be eligible even though it is a great film. 

I guess this shows that the Oscars are still all about popularity, politics and pandering to the liberal Hollywood elite. But it doesn’t matter, because they are losing influence. 

With many Americans getting rid of cable, this year’s Oscars had the lowest ratings since 1974. 

Hopefully,  this change will be what returns the Oscars to the limelight, but it equally well might be the final nail in the coffin.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California