x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

And the Oscar goes to...

The Oscars ceremony is over, but what do the annual film awards actually mean?

The red carpet has been rolled up, the echoes of the acceptance speeches have died away and all but the most bacchanalian of the celebration parties will have ended, leaving the rest of us to ask one question about the 86th edition of the awards cere­mony by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: what do the Oscars really mean?

It certainly isn’t a celebration of the movies as determined by popularity with the general public, who cast their votes by actually buying tickets. By that score, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Iron Man 3 topped the US box office, earning far more than Twelve Years A Slave and Gravity, winners respectively of the best picture and of the most Oscars overall. In the UAE last year, the top spot was taken by Fast And Furious 6.

Is it a reflection of genuine talent, then, rather than a paean to film marketers’ ability to pander to audience demographics? Few would dispute that Oscar winner Cate Blanchett is in the very highest rank of her craft, an accolade that would be difficult to ascribe to more populist actors like Vin Diesel, whose Fast and Furious franchise has put more backsides on cinema seats than many Academy Awards winners.

Maybe that’s the point: we can watch the winning movies and decide for ourselves.