William Hagerty, an associate professor in the department of communication arts, discusses the Oscars.
While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences claims to not promote political matters, there may be more political action at this year’s Academy Awards than, perhaps, ever before. Could you comment on this trend? The Academy has done a fair job trying to eliminate political and social bias from its picks after years of criticism. Aside from possibly giving some extra attention to a Spielberg film (Munich—a true Hollywood insider), nothing else this year seems truly out of line. The usual critique has been the Academy is too liberal (three nominations for George Clooney?), and this will always be true to some extent.
Hollywood ticket sales are down significantly in recent years. Is this decline a result of substandard films, or evidence of soaring theater prices? I really don’t think there are too many substandard films (anymore than in recent years), but ticket prices—and ridiculous concessions prices—certainly contribute to the downtrend in ticket sales. More folks are simply waiting for the DVDs to come out—especially those with big digital TVs.
Many great films are never nominated for a single Academy Award. Do you think any films were left out of the nominations this year? I don’t think there were any big surprises this year in the films or actors nominated. I don’t see a third as many films as I used to when I was reviewing films for newspapers.