Monday, February 27, 2012

AHA-The Oscars!

Photo-Flickr: Loren Javier
This might be a stretch for a Visual Literacy blog topic, but really think that the Oscars are a big part of our country's visual culture. Though the Internet has certainly changed the face of mass communication in today's society, television and film still play significant roles in people's lives. One of the most celebrated awards in film is the Oscar, and every year the Academy Awards are televised so that America can see who and what wins each award. I would have to think that these awards and the films that essentially compete to receive them are part of our visual literacy. Since the Academy Awards are advertised and broadcast on a prime-time network during prime viewing hours (last night it was 7e/4p), one would assume that the general public finds them to be important. 37.6 million people tuned in to watch the Oscars, and it would have been 37.6 million plus one more if I hadn't had to work last night.

I think that the best film, in terms of visual literacy, this year has to have been The Artist, directed by Michael Hazanavicius. The Artist is a silent film, about a silent film star, George Valentin, who is anxious as to whether or not talking films will put him out of a job. The movie is in black and white, which keeps the focus on the action taking place on the screen. The lack of verbal communication places more emphasis on the visual elements of the film.

If you watch the trailer above, you will notice that the actors are primarily communicating with such dynamic personal visuals as facial expressions, dramatic gestures, and body language, relying completely on nonverbal communication to carry the action. The only verbal communication that occurs comes at the very end of the film. I highly recommend seeing The Artist if you haven't, it's a real treat!

Mary McNamara, a Los Angeles Times Television critic, noted that as the Oscars reoccur every year, numbers are waning. And though the Oscars have become predictable to an extent (the same process happens every year, hosts dramatically opening envelopes, famous people winning awards, giving short speeches, hosts cracking jokes in the mean time), we still love it. Maybe it's the anticipation of seeing the fashion on the red carpet, or the banter between this year's hosts, or the excitement of finding out each winning nominee. For me, it's the chance to catch a glimpse of movies I've missed for the year, to appreciate which actors and actresses have been hard at work to bring imaginative new films to life, and my favorite, seeing which film wins best cinematography! This year, it was Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, cinematography Robert Richardson.

I love the Oscars. I try to watch them every year, because I really do think that they encompass the spirit of film. Of course, I might be biased. I am a pretty huge film devotee, and I am a loyal viewer of Turner Classic Movie's 31 days of Oscar.

See all of the nominees and winners of the Oscars 2012 here.

1 comment:

  1. Ah Yes, the Oscars. Sometimes I feel they are just a fashion show and don't adequately reflect what movies are actually deserving of the years best, but I usually watch and I usually can agree that even though, I might not think something is the best, I can see how others would. I remember years ago reading an article about how the AFI list of top 100 films ever includes many films that weren't even nominated for best picture. Most of the time they claimed this was due to the current zeitgeist and that some films have greater staying power than others. For example when Chicago won many thought that it wasn't because it was such a good film, but more because the year before Moulan Rouge had paved the way. These same critics are expecting it will not make a top 100 list, but fellow nominee Gangs of New York will.