For nearly 90 years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been handing out golden statuettes to actors, cinematographers. writers. directors, designers, animators, producers, and musicians for their contributions to film in that given year.
A tradition of prestige and glamour, The Academy Awards — aka the Oscars — have been televised since 1953 and are among one of the most-watched award shows annually.
However, with run times often nearing four hours, some millennials might look at such an event and consider themselves bored before the first category’s nominees are read off the lightning-fast teleprompter. Before you choose Netflix over the 89th Academy Awards, here are just a few reasons the Oscars remain relevant, especially for millennials.
A Reflection of Loss
As is customary for any celebration, the Academy Awards presents its audience — in the Dolby Theater and at home — with a moving montage of all the Academy members that have died that year. Fans and peers may mourn those that have passed, but as shown in the yearly tribute, their legacy lives on and it is at that time that — above all else — their work is admired and we are grateful for the impact it has made in our lives. This year we will send off many Hollywood greats whose absence is still being felt today.
The People’s Politics
While Oscar winners are allotted a mere 45 seconds for their speeches, many triumphant celebrities use their small window of opportunity to not only thank their supporters but call attention to issues close to their hearts.
Writer John Irving thanked Planned Parenthood, among others, in his speech for Best Adapted Screenplay that he won for The Cider House Rules (1999), a film about an orphanage run by a doctor performing illegal abortions. Both the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq have been heavily criticized in Oscar speeches in their respective decades, as have some elected officials throughout the award show’s 60-plus year broadcast history. Sean Penn called for people to “sit and reflect and anticipate [their] great shame…” regarding Proposition 8 after accepting the award for Best Actor. Penn won the coveted prize for his portrayal of legendary gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win Best Actress, and the monumental moment was not lost on the newly-crowned Oscar winner as she reminded the audience that it had taken 74 years to come to fruition. The award show’s host will also highlight the social problems plaguing America that year — normally in a humorous way — as Chris Rock did when he pointed out the lack of black nominees at last year’s Oscars.
If you are looking to get a feel for the nation’s political climate or simply want to be reminded that celebrities are concerned with the same matters as us everyday folks, look no further than the Oscars. We can be assured that this year’s awards will have an unlimited supply of material for hosts, presenters, and speech-makers to discuss.
The Future of Fashion
The Academy Awards is a grand event where your favorite stars strive to look their absolute best. It is a time to look at the color palettes emerging for spring and the new makeup trends that will soon be behind every make-up counter in the country. Oscar fashions run the gamut of styles — as do our own wardrobes. On the red carpet you will find everything from vintage couture, casual suits, and cutting-edge silhouettes. These gowns and tuxedos just might inspire some risk-taking in your own closet! Remember: your best accessory is your confidence!
A Pause for Gratitude and Daring to Dream
Is there anything better than feeling accomplished and thankful? Recognizing the help you have gotten on your journey makes you feel good inside. Don’t pretend you’ve never stood in front of your mirror, holding a toothbrush pretending you’re thanking the Academy “for this prestigious honor!” And what is so wrong with that?
Even if we never have to prepare a thorough but concise acceptance speech, we should hold on to the dreams we wish to bring to reality — whatever they may be — and be able to look back on the journey to success with pride. Don’t give up! After all, how many award-winners begin their speeches with the phrases “I never thought this would happen” and end them with “this is a dream come true?” Just don’t forget to thank the little people.
The Academy Awards are an opportunity for movie-goers and filmmakers alike to analyze the past and contemplate the future. Historical dramas help us to consider the decisions that were made and how they went on to shape the lives of many people, while documentaries remind us that life is as beautiful as it is unscripted.
Musicals, comedies, animated movies, and other films allow us to imagine what life could be like in any situation or how to make the best of something that’s gone wrong in our lives. No matter what kind of film you prefer to watch, motion picture always seeks to reflect the ideas and thoughts of a generation–perhaps multiple generations–in an artful and captivating way.
This year’s Oscars will be televised Sunday, February 26 on ABC, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. If anyone needs me at that time, I’ll be on the couch with my good friends Ben and Jerry.