The 2015 Jacobys
Hollywood, take heed and listen!
By Jacoby Bancroft, University of Nevada at Reno
Every year, the Oscars award their prestigious golden statues to an onslaught of critically acclaimed films.
Period pieces, biopics, politically-charged true stories, anything starring Meryl Streep, etc. all usually get some sort of recognition or honor around late February. The problem? All these movies are intentionally released in the later months of the year, during the pivotal Oscar season.
Think of a calendar split into three parts, because that’s what the film industry does. The last third of the year is roped off for the serious Oscar-bait flicks that the academy can’t get enough of. The middle of the year is ruled by summer blockbusters—tremendously big-budgeted spectacles filled with superheroes, space adventures and disaster flicks. And the first few months are a barren wasteland, filled with movies that studios want to dump or burn off. As a result, there’s a de facto time and a place for Oscar contenders, and the early and summer months are not it.
But I want to change that. Lately the Oscars have become more and more disassociated from the mainstream. Acclaimed, popular movies don’t get the credit they deserve just because they don’t fit the mold of an “Oscar-winning film”. So, in direct response to the current Oscar season, I’ve developed my own awards.
I don’t know who Oscar is, and I don’t know what he did to get an award named after him, but I once cooked a toaster strudel that was perfectly toasted on both sides and the inside filling wasn’t still frozen solid. If that doesn’t earn me the right to give out my own awards, I don’t know what will.
I call them the Jacobys, and they function to highlight movies that have released this year that will never be recognized by the Oscars. I’ve even spruced things up a bit and made up my own award categories, which allow me (and you) to better appreciate the artistic value of a film, as well as give the Oscars a few pointers for making their awards show more interesting. Without further ado I present: The first annual 2015 Jacobys.
Best Attempt at a Quality Movie: Jupiter Ascending
Jupiter Ascending had everything going for it. It stemmed from the Wachowski siblings, visionaries who brought the world the classic, genre-defining masterpiece The Matrix, and the psychedelic LSD trip Speed Racer.
Unfortunately, Jupiter Ascending wasn’t the comeback the siblings desperately needed, but the movie still deserves some recognition for its valiant attempt to fill out this rich, dense mythology and backstory.
It was overstuffed, but there were kernels of the grander ideas hidden within the screenplay that suggest the siblings had a great story in mind that they just didn’t have enough time to develop.
Plus, it had Sean Bean in a wise, mentor role but he still ended up not dying. Film rule #1: If you have Sean Bean, you kill Sean Bean. In this way and others, the movie had potential, it just didn’t live up to it.
Best Breakout Performance: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Forget the awards about Best Lead Actress or Best Supporting Actor: Those don’t pay attention to more important details. Too often, the reputation of a great performer can overshadow the character role that they’re portraying, but there’s a euphoric feeling that comes from watching a fantastic performance from someone you’ve never seen before.
Oh there’s a new Daniel Day Lewis film? You know that Lewis, insane method actor that he is, is absolutely going to bring down the house, but how come there isn’t an award for the best actual breakout role?
She captures the curiosity, the seductiveness and the manipulative nature of her robot character while rocking everything else that the movie throws at her. Her role in this movie put her on the map to stardom, and I present this award to her because I am very excited to see what’s next for her.
Best Sequel: Pitch Perfect 2
Sequels are hard. Comedy sequels are harder. Comedy sequels about female a capella singers seem to be the hardest. Though somehow, Pitch Perfect 2 works on almost every level.
There is technically no Oscar award specifically for sequels, but we live in a age where sequels dominant the film landscape. The Hangover Part 2 proved you could destroy the original with a bad comedy sequel, so it’s incredible that Pitch Perfect 2 turned out as well as it did.
Comedy sequels never seem to work because either way, the audience is unhappy. Either they get mad at the movie for rehashing the same jokes from the first one, or for being so different than the original that it doesn’t feel like a sequel at all.
Pitch Perfect 2 avoided those pratfalls by both honoring what came before and paving a brand new path. It also helped that Pitch Perfect 2 was absolutely hilarious. It’s not only the best comedy sequel of the year, it’s one of the better comedy sequels of all-time.
Best Reboot: Jurassic World
Much like sequels, reboots tend to be the only thing getting made nowadays. It’s like the studio executives are stuck in the past and are too afraid to invest in original content.
With the abundance of reboots out there, there should be an award that acknowledges the reboot and gives a prize to the best one. This would be beneficial, as it would force reboots to actually be good and not just coast on brand recognition to sell tickets.
This year, the award for Best Reboot goes to Jurassic World. Though overall the movie has major plot and character issues, it’s hard to deny that the movie did a fantastic job of continuing the franchise in a way no one ever expected.
It wasn’t a great film but it was a great reboot, which is technically the only qualification needed to earn this rare and totally-not-sellable-on-EBay Jacoby Award.
Best Picture of the Year: Mad Max: Fury Road
This one is very similar to the Best Picture category the Oscars have, but my awards focus on great movies that shamefully never will be nominated for Best Picture.
There were so many great choices this year, from the hilarious Trainwreck, to the surprise hit Ant-Man, to the incredibly fun Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but one movie stands about them all.
Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just a winning cinematic achievement, destined to go down in history as one of the best action movies ever, it’s a fantastic movie.
Every decade or so has one defining action movie that will be remembered for years to come. The 80’s have Die Hard, the 90’s have Terminator 2, and now this decade has Mad Max: Fury Road.