Suggestions for the Oscars

As much as Cadenza loves awards shows, sometimes we also find them frustrating. This year, we’re all worked up about the Oscars, which air this Sunday at 6 p.m. on ABC. It would be nice to see the Academy take some of our suggestions, but if not, we’ll be back ranting and raving next year.

Stop rewarding stunt and biopic performances all the time

There is a difference between how one prepares for a performance and how one performs. The two are certainly related, but the Oscars put too much weight on the former. This is evidenced by the trope known as the “Oscar performance,” wherein an actor puts on a lot of makeup, adopts a funny new accent or goes through a whole lot of trouble to play a person who is so very different from him or her. The Academy Awards eat this up, particularly in the best actor category, because it is easy to see the work being done—it’s all on the outside. Seven of the past 10 best actor winners portrayed historical figures, which is absolutely ridiculous.

This year, four of the five (!) best actor nominees play historical figures, and this will not stop anytime soon unless the Academy decides to stop rewarding stunt performances already. An accent is not acting. Acting is figuring out what a character thinks and feels in each moment and communicating that through body language, gestures, facial expressions, tone, rhythm, timbre. You know who did a very good job of that last year? Michael B. Jordan, who identified a combination of restlessness and vulnerability in a young boxer desperate to emerge from his father’s shadow in “Creed.” Unfortunately for Jordan, much of this work is nonverbal—look at the eyes and posture—so he doesn’t get a nomination; it didn’t help that he made the grave mistake of signing on to play a fictional character, because, you know, it’s not real acting if you’re not imitating a real person. Same goes for Oscar Isaac, who was charming and terrifying—sometimes simultaneously—in “Ex Machina,” and created tension by making you wonder which side would show up in each scene. Alas, Isaac didn’t put on a lot of makeup or talk with a funny accent, so no dice for him.

Leonardo DiCaprio will probably win because he spent a lot of time being very cold while filming “The Revenant” (Did you know he ate REAL bison liver?), and nothing will change, and I will continue to get angry each year when four dudes get rewarded for taking safe roles in boring films. ­—Mark Matousek

Give Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar already so we can all stop talking about it

The fact that Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar is basically part of Hollywood canon at this point, but I’m hoping that changes this year. Now, I should probably mention that I haven’t actually seen “The Revenant,” the film DiCaprio’s nominated for—something to do with bears? —nor have I seen any of the other films nominated in the best actor category. I’m also not even that big of a DiCaprio fan, and I certainly don’t pity him for his Oscarless-ness. The only reason I hope he wins is because I want us to be finally able to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT AND MOVE ON WITH OUR LIVES ALREADY. I’m sure Leo’s tired to talking about it, too—let him go back to talking about other important things on the red carpet, like what he’s wearing. —Katharine Jaruzelski

Don’t give Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar already

Echoing Katharine Jaruzelski, I haven’t seen “The Revenant.”  I’m not opposed to seeing it, but I just don’t feel like seeing it. I do acknowledge that it is probably a well-made movie, and DiCaprio did a great job. But I disagree with her on this one. We can’t just give out Oscars because people haven’t received them yet. If that was the case, I would have an Oscar, too. DiCaprio will get an Oscar when he deserves to get an Oscar. If it’s this year, fine–if it is not, and he continues to be a popular Internet meme around award season, that may be even better. I refuse to succumb to the pressure. I will continue to talk about how he never won the Oscar until he wins it, fair and square. —Elena Wandzilak

Stop trying to make Jennifer Lawrence into the next Meryl Streep. Stop playing it safe.

The Oscars tend to award universally-loved personalities simply because of who they are and not because of their performances. It’s time to stop this. Yes, Meryl Streep is magnificent in every role she plays. She could be the next James Bond and no one would question it. Does that mean we should nominate her for roles that are simply not Oscar-worthy? Was her performance in the forgettable 2014 film “Into the Woods” really deserving of an Oscar nomination over performances like Viola Davis’ in “Get on Up”? Lately, the Academy has continued this trend with Jennifer Lawrence as well, stealing the opportunity to recognize more worthy, diverse performances. This is not to say Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t as entrancing as always in “Joy.” This is to say that part of the reason why the Oscars are so white is because of this lazy trend of giving in to hype over merit. This is to say that actresses like Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, who gave astonishing performances in “Tangerine,” are forgotten in the name of mediocrity and ratings. Meryl Streep is the ultimate representation of the Oscars as a popularity contest and Jennifer Lawrence seems to be taking over her role. Perhaps she will win an Oscar for it. —Alberto Farino

Make the Oscars funnier

The Emmys and the Golden Globes are like the Oscars’ more fun younger siblings—they’ve got entire categories dedicated to comedy, the hosts are often younger and edgier, and, at least in the case of the Golden Globes, everyone’s drunk. Granted, in terms of their structure and purpose, the Academy Awards don’t really lend themselves to comedic shenanigans, but that doesn’t mean they need to be so stodgy and overly reverent. Let’s throw some more bits in there—just imagine this year’s best actress nominees pulling the types of stunts nominees for lead actress in a comedy have pulled at the Emmys. Plus, if Chris Rock is willing to be even half as feisty as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler or Ricky Gervais were at the Golden Globes, we’ll be in for an interesting show. —Katharine Jaruzelski

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