For most of the Academy’s history, the award for Best Picture has gone to a fairly big box-office hit, a film that appealed to the vast majority of moviegoers everywhere.
Flashback: My 1997 interview with Leon Gast, director of the Muhammad Ali documentary When We Were Kings
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali passed away Friday at the age of 74. I never met him, but nearly two decades ago I did a phone interview with Leon Gast, the director of the Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings, which covered the legendary ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when Ali fought George Foreman in Zaire in 1974.
One of the best things about the Academy Awards is the way they can shine a light on films and filmmakers who would otherwise not get much attention.
Case in point: the short film awards.
Every year, the Academy nominates five animated shorts, five live-action shorts, and five documentary shorts — and every year, the ShortsHD cable channel packages them together and sends these programs to theatres around the world, thereby allowing moviegoers everywhere to catch up on these otherwise obscure categories.
2005 marked the first time since 1996 that the Best Picture winner did not gross at least $100 million, the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed at least $100 million, and the first time in living memory that the Oscar did not go to one of the Top 25 films in North America. In fact, the winner that year — Crash — grossed a mere $54.6 million and ranked way, way down at #49.
Ever since then, the Oscar for Best Picture has tended to alternate between relatively big hits and somewhat smaller box-office performers — until last year, when the award was given to a smaller film for the second year in a row. Is that the new normal now? Will the award go to another small film this year? Or could it mean that the Academy is even more likely to snap back and go for a big film this year?