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Do you think the dark Oscars are a new trend?

February 19, 2008 | 10:36 am

What do you think of the dark tone of the films up for best picture this year? In the past we've mostly seen sprawling epics and inspiring biopics rule. Is it a new Oscar trend?


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If this trend is real, we saw its dramatic emergence last year with "The Departed" winning the top Oscar race. Maybe even with the surprise win of "Crash" the previous year. Now, if "No Country for Old Men" prevails, we'll have seen recent champs come out with guns blazing and secret evil exposed. Does this mean farewell to those good, ole Oscar days of singing priests and nuns ("Going My Way," "The Sound of Music") and other saintly folk ("Gandhi," even "Schindler's List" and "Forrest Gump")?

If the gloom and grit we've seen fall upon the best-pic race recently is here to stay, it may mean one of two things: that academy members are finally revealing the dark side that we've always suspected of hard-hearted Hollywooders. Or else it means the world around them has changed so much in recent years that they're merely reflecting that. It's always been a cruel world, but today we underscore it with gangsta rap and by voting nice people off remote jungle islands on TV.

Of course, the prevalence of dark films like "The Departed," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" could just be a fluke. In the past there were periods when similar flicks like "The French Connection" (1971) and "The Godfather" (1972) stole the golden prize.

Even when dark wins weren't consecutive, the best picture race has always, really, been racy now and then: "On the Waterfront," "Midnight Cowboy" and "The Silence of the Lambs."

So what do YOU think? New trend? Or has that sly naked Golden Boy just been showing us more of his longstanding naughty nature of late?

(Paramount Vantage/ Miramax)

The comments to this entry are closed.


I think it just reflects very well made movies..except for 'There Will Be Blood' , an outstanding performance by DDLewis but I thought the movie stunk.

No to Gay Cowboys - Yes to Blood and Violence!

I like your post Tom and I’m glad you bring this up. In a way, I also agree with you Amanda. I think it is rather revealing but not really that surprising that this year’s frontrunners are violent films. As has been said before, “films reflect and define who we are” and a great deal of what is considered as America’s best films this year deal with violence, serial killers, murder, gangsters, blood, etc... Many of these film depict gruesome acts, …and yet, all of this has become “normal” and “acceptable”. Violence is a very popular and widespread form of entertainment in America.

This brings me to remember that the Hollywood Academy literally went out of its way two years ago NOT to award the Oscar for Best Picture to an extraordinary film that told a love story between two cowboys. Brokeback Mountain was controversial from the onset because of its groundbreaking subject matter (in mainstream cinema) - there were protests, boycotts, it was even banned in a few theatres and in some foreign countries, etc…The “anything but Brokeback campaign” eventually paid off and, Thank God(!), the “good old American values” were preserved on Oscar night.

In the end, it was not possible for the Academy to bestow its highest honor to Brokeback Mountain, which walked into the Oscars with an unprecedented 26 designations as Best Picture, even if it indisputably deserved it, and yet, at the same time, it sure isn’t a problem to honor films that depict extreme violence, serial killers, mafia, butchery, etc. I personally can actually enjoy “violent films” once in a while - some of them are indeed gripping and very well made - but when an exceptional film like Brokeback Mountain is arguably being snubbed due to “moral” reasons, I can’t really see what is more “moral” with ruthless Mafiosi and serial killers. Yet, there are no protests - violence & gore have has all become so “normal”. Well, there might still a slight chance that Juno or Atonement wins for Best Picture.

We are at war. Artists' work reflect that. Granted films about this actual war aren't the way most people chose to escape to a theater (this was proven many times over in '07). But general darkness prevails during such a time, no doubt.

I don't really get big deal here. Look at the 70s BP wins: 2 Godfather wins, Patton and Deerhunter (grizzly war pics), French Connection (gritty crime realism) and Cuckoo's Nest (not so warm and fuzzy. Now the 90s BPs: Lambs (serial killer wins BP!), Unforgiven (fuzzy?), Schindler (Holocaust), Braveheart (known for it's bloody battles), Titanic (yes sappy but a story of one of the great US tragedies), American Beauty (dysfunctional people result in main character being blown away).

I just don't really see the past few decades being filled with Zigfield folly.



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