This year’s Oscar nominations included films containing incredibly diverse and fascinating cinematic experiences: an international adoption from Calcutta to Tasmania, a heightened musical representation of artistic LA and working class African-American 1950s Pittsburgh.
The Oscars are intended to recognise extraordinary accomplishments and storytelling, dream worlds and universal truths within movies. We have some of our own suggestions for Oscars (or would they be called the Quirkeys?). We’re providing nominations and winners in our own play on words production. Could we have the envelopes, please?
And the winner is…
[Movie still from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Warner Bros]
Best “Director” – Albus Dumbledore
Professor Albus Dumbledore has quite a lot to manage at once. In addition to being the headmaster of Britain’s only wizarding school, Hogwarts, he also maintains an undercover role as the head of the Order of the Phoenix, constantly on the lookout for the return of Lord Voldemort. Monitoring for dark wizards and ensuring the protection of both the wizarding and Muggle communities should be the job of the Ministry of Magic, yet Dumbledore has never quite been able to be free of the jealousy and deliberate ignorance of Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge. Insecure in his job, particularly since many wizards would clearly prefer Dumbledore for Minister, Fudge often chooses the path of least resistance. Dumbledore is then forced to step into the void and assume leadership, the role of director, in resisting Voldemort.
The Second Wizarding War becomes a long, painful struggle. Dumbledore is forced to balance more and more responsibility not only for his students, but also for the wizards aggressively resisting Voldemort and for his plan to finally vanquish Voldemort using his protégée, Harry Potter. Dumbledore wins best director because he is aware of every moment, every background actor, every angle.
[TV still from Star Trek, Paramount Television]
Best “Computer Effects” – Montgomery Scott
Visual and computer effects are perhaps the categories which have most evolved since the early twentieth century origins of the Academy Awards. It’s hard to imagine Gone with the Wind competing with the seamless intensity of space in Rogue One. But the character who most harkens back to the origins of effects is Star Trek’s original miracle worker, Montgomery Scott.
Unusually for a Starfleet officer, Scott was never particularly ambitious for command, much preferring the role of a chief engineer, fixing the engines behind the scenes. He had an intuitive understanding of the ship’s engines, claiming to know even more about them than the designers. Of course, his reputation as a miracle worker was aided by the sneaky reality that Scott often multiplied his estimated repair time by four in order to ensure that he far exceeded expectations. Yet like any good head of a team (particularly those giving Oscar-worthy performances), he’s devoted to his workers – he can be seen genuinely grieving when young engineers are killed and takes any delays which cost the lives of crew members as a personal failing. Few visual effects supervisors are described as saving lives (although the Lord of the Rings films definitely relied on some miracle workers) and so, in our opinion, Montgomery Scott is the most deserving of them all.
[TV still from Game of Thrones, HBO]
Best “Supporting Actor” – Petyr Baelish and Varys (tie)
Game of Thrones is unmistakeably cutthroat. One wrong move could result in death or, even worse to these two schemers, a loss of power. Unlike most of the high-born players in Kings Landing, both come from humble origins. Baelish was the ignored son of a very minor royal house and Varys was a foreign street urchin. Both rose to power not in their own right, but by providing invaluable service to more well-born figureheads. Both have become adept at keeping their feelings hidden and their loyalties of opaque. Despite that both are widely understood to be untrustworthy, they still manage to convince individual people (Cersei Lannister, Ned Stark) that this time, with this person, they can be trusted – until, of course, the inevitable betrayal.
The two are consummate “actors,” and even when confessing a truth or vulnerability, it is never quite clear how much is a performance, intended to trigger a response, and how much is a real slip of the mask. Even at his most honest, confessing his dreams and love to Sansa Stark, Baelish has an element of performance about every conversation, every word choice.
Perhaps the two characters have simply been “acting” for so long that they simply just don’t know how to be candid, without any aspects of deception. Although they are clearly method actors, inhabiting their own performances, these two flawlessly perform constantly – making them a tie for a nomination for best supporting actor.
[Movie still from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount Pictures]
Best “Set Design” – Indiana Jones
The dreamy archaeology professor is perhaps better known for his choice of costume and doing his own stunts (although he won’t do swordfights), but we’re fascinated by the exotic locales he continually finds himself in. Whether it’s a cave full of snakes searching for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, a Nazi rally in Berlin, or an underground Indian temple, Indiana Jones makes full use of any set or props at hand – including handily allowing the Lost Ark to eliminate his enemies.
But perhaps even more unusual is his ability to turn any location into a den of action and adventure. Even in the cavernous lecture theatre of Jones’ class at Marshall College, he hatches plots to recover the Lost Ark from the Nazis. Of course, a Nazi castle is far more dramatic of a setting, yet somehow, he seems to make the most of any dramatic element (a giant rolling ball of stone?). Indiana Jones never allows any place he visits to remain dull or quiet for very long – and so he should be commended for the design and use of his sets.