5 Things I Learnt About Movies from The Oscars 2014

12 years a slaveHere’s what I learnt from the Academy Awards 2014.

1) You CAN have a black lead character – 12 Years A Slave

2) You CAN have a female lead character – Gravity

3) You CAN have lead characters who are gay – Dallas Buyers Club

4) You CAN have lead characters who are over 60 – Nebraska, Philomena

5) Hollywood DOES reward originality – Her

And those movies aren’t just winning awards, they are all commercially successful. Hollywood, let’s not forget, does not reward movies that are a commercial disaster.

So the next time you get told that your spec script isn’t commercially viable because your lead character is a woman, or black, or over 60, or gay just remind them to look up the winners at the Academy Awards 2014.

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8 responses to “5 Things I Learnt About Movies from The Oscars 2014

  1. As the co-writer, with the composer Andrew Fisher, of the musical ‘Billy Bow’ I find your comments on the Oscars really heartening: our lead character is both black and female (and disguises herself as a man). We think the story’s quite original, too! – Ian Friel

  2. The lead character in Dallas Buyers Club was not gay.

  3. I didn’t read any of these the same way as you, or see them as remotely affirmative. When taking the marketing of these films into consideration, quite the opposite.

    1. The main character is a free man, an ‘honorary white’ if you will, which makes him representative of approximately 0% of the slave trade. A representative black lead character did not happen. Then there was the marketing, famously outed in the American press when European posters featured only Brad Pitt who is in it for about 3 minutes.

    2. A female lead is hardly unique, but this was still cast and marketed to look like a two-hander when in fact Bullock is close to being the sole character. The other character is of course Brad Pitt’s old mate and universal mega-star George Clooney. None of the marketing indicated this film had a female lead, when in fact she has a larger chunk of available screen time / dialogue than just about anything else I can think of.

    3. Not only is the lead character not gay in the film, but he is also homophobic and to present that it helps if you have gay supporting characters, or at least one. And not only that, but this was CHANGED. The lead character DID get HIV from another man, but this frankly huge character trait was changed by the film industry, essentially stripping this character of his real identity for the sake of the movie. Hardly affirmative.

    4. The over 60s should, of course, be represented on film in lead roles, but are treated identically in both of these films, showing what a narrow focus there is. Two road movies where the oldie is driven about by a younger male with a selection of scenes showing how mad / out of touch the oldies are. They do absolutely nothing for themselves.

    5. Here a bit of Academy laziness goes a long way. Other than the main awards, voting is often done without much thought to the work itself. Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay are often given to the the ‘most’ original instead. Sad but true.

  4. Hi Hayley, how can I send a script for you to analyze? With regards, Lucas

  5. In Training Day there was a black lead character.

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