HOLLYWOOD-The Academy Awards shines its brightest lights on the biggest names and the biggest films. But the little guy in the Oscar equation-animated features, documentaries and short films-are now part of the action for years to come. And that’s a good thing.
By expanding the category numbers to include these often overlooked (until recent years) films and record of history, the Academy Awards has become a full-fledged equal opportunity maker, opening the doors to inclusiveness instead of exclusion.
Throughout Oscar week leading up to Sunday’s Academy Awards, filmmakers in all three categories took part in panel discussions and viewing of their movies at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, discussing what made their films successful and entertaining questions about being nominated for entertainment industry’s highest honor.
Amour took home the Oscar for best foreign film. Inocente claimed the Academy Award for best short subject documentary. Sean Fine, who co-directed and produced Inocente, spoke about the impact of this year’s crop of this year’s Academy Award nominees and the impact of making social-conscious films at a panel discussion that paid tribute to Oscar-nominated documentaries.
“There are people out there that will see films about social issues,” Fine said. “We’re all great storytellers.”
Before the 85th Academy Awards took place, intrigued fans got a short-hand look at the top five animated and live action shorts during the Oscars Celebrates: Shorts evening. The examination of these projects show that the Academy Awards voting members have looked at the mirror of inclusion, flexing its diversity arm to include nominating an animated short to include one of the Simpson family member (Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare) and a stunning visual of an office worker (Paperman) finding love on a street corner.
With well-known documentarian filmmaker Michael Moore hosting the Oscar Celebrates: Docs event at the same location, evening becomes a night of vivid interest with the wide array but touching and powerful documentaries. Previews of movies in both the documentary short subjects and documentary features categories provide a glimpse into what great filmmaking is all about. Moore even admitted as much.
“Those films are absolutely incredible,” Moore said while interviewing documentary filmmakers during the panel discussion. “This has been a powerful year for movies. These films are so good this year. I’m very optimistic about non-fiction cinema.”
The future of filmmaking is in good hands. Inocente, a film about a young homeless immigrant, tug at your heartstrings, as does Mondays at Racine, which speaks to the agony and anguish of family members dealing with their respective loved ones battle cancer. Open Heart follows the lives of eight Rwandan children that require immediate medical attention, specified to help give them a chance to live.
The Invisible War, even though it lost the Academy Award to Searching for Sugarman, is a cold game to play as it documents the shattered lives of those being shunned after being sexually assaulted. As many as 22,800 members of the U.S. military were sexually assaulted in 2011.
The Academy Awards voting members aren’t just limited to deep-thinking films. The members show they can have some fun, too. The Oscar nominees for animated features provide them with that kind of relief. Brave, Paranorman, The Pirates: Band of Misfits and Wreck-It Ralph illustrate the importance of recognizing animated features.
The days of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck ruling the animated universe is way past over. Animated features have become blockbuster films and depict real-life impressions with state-of-the art technology. And what used to be a good thing for younger audiences now-has become an escape haven for adults.
With that being said, this year’s film crop among documentary features and short documentaries was so good that Moore issued a sharp directive to the filmmakers:
“Make more of these movies,” Moore said.