In the latest edition of his Secrets of Cinema series, Mark Kermode tries to uncover what it takes to win an Oscar, as the 91st Academy Awards are presented this week.
Interestingly, the first thing he does in this programme is comment on the foolishness of the Oscars, commenting on the greats of cinema who missed out. These include no animated film ever winning “Best Picture”, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles never winning “Best Director”, or that in his opinion not only was Driving Miss Daisy not deserving of its “Best Picture” Oscar, it wasn’t even the best Morgan Freeman film released in the week it came out.
As ever, the programme is split into various numbered sections, Kermode dealing with a different kind of film that Oscar judges find appealing. These films range from movies showing the horrors of war, social dramas, underdog films, historical dramas and musicals.
One of the other areas Kermode highlights is movies featuring characters that have some form of disability or similar struggle. He comments on the troupe that many people think that playing a disabled character is an easy way to win an Oscar, but Kermode also argues that some of the best performances from actors are when they portray such people.
Kermode however, also highlights the issue about whether actors who are actually disabled should be playing more disabled roles, highlighting performances overlooked in this year’s Oscars, as well as the problems caused by such films. As someone on the Autistic spectrum, I’m glad Kermode brought up the issue of Rain Man, because I have felt that the film tends to gloss over just how broad the condition is. There is a lot of difference between someone like me, with a mild form of Asperger’s, and Dustin Hoffman’s autistic savant.
Again, Kermode is able to bring his knowledge and brilliant analysis to highlight some of the key aspects that link together so many films. When it comes to the Oscars however, he also does demonstrate some of the problems that the Academy still has. All I can say is that given their attitude towards animated films, and my love of Japanese anime, I expect to be disappointed again when Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai will sadly and inevitably lose the “Best Animated Feature Film” award.
Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema is on BBC iPlayer.