Perhaps you heard that a few popular music artists consciously neglected to attend the Grammy awards recently.
It was a statement to those listening that the Grammys are no longer relevant. The music industry is not what it used to be and music is being disseminated in far more ways through far more channels than ever before. What a single committee thinks is great music doesn’t and shouldn’t dictate what the audience decides is great. At least that was their message in playing hookie.
Adele’s “25” beat Beyonce’s “Lemonade” for album of the year. I listened to both and enjoyed both. Frankly, I am not a Beyonce fanatic so I didn’t take it personally when she lost that battle. However, many music fans were shocked and appalled that “Lemonade,” an album with powerful and provocative messages about race, marriage and womanhood, which also included a music video for each song, lost to “25,” admittedly not Adele’s most inspired work.
When Adele went up to accept her award, she started to tear up saying that she felt “Lemonade” deserved the win and that Beyonce is “the artist of her life.” I guess even Adele felt the Grammys weren’t relevant!
Now we prepare for the Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest night. Sunday we’ll tune in and wait to hear what a single committee felt exemplified the very best in filmmaking in 2016. What I’m wondering is: are the Oscars still relevant?
Here’s what I loved this year. “Fences” was practically flawless. Yes, it felt like a well-filmed play, but when you have a nearly perfect play to begin with, written by the inimitable August Wilson, why would you screw it up by adapting it for screen? The acting was top notch — I have never been more impressed with Denzel Washington or Viola Davis. And then there was “Arrival.” I’m not crazy about sci-fi films, but this one managed to capture the most heartfelt and magical aspects of the genre and tell a story that brings you to tears (unless you’re a cold soul like me). And of course, “Moonlight” — another film that finds its origin in a play, this one written by Tarell McCraney. “Moonlight” submerged me in a world I didn’t know well with characters I would have pre-judged. It wooed me with its simple, authentic story and I fell in love with its pure yet complex soul. It was, for lack of a more eloquent word, real.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think these films are going to do so well. It seems “La La Land” is going to sweep. So if the Oscar wins don’t reflect my personal wins, does that mean the Oscars are not relevant? I don’t think so. The fact that the films that I found fresh and excellently executed are still nominated in these big categories means that ultimately the Oscars has some sense of the valuable diverse tastes of movie-goers. It also is not #sowhite this year, and I am proud to see diverse stories being recognized. And ultimately, anything can happen; I will be rooting for my underdog favorites.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.