91st Academy Awards – Creative Awards (Part 2)

Continuing my roundup of this year’s Oscars, I will be discussing more of the Creative awards handed out on Sunday night. In my first blog I spoke about the acting awards (here) and the following posts looked at the creative awards (here). The array of topics from the winners and nominees show just how varied this year has been internationally. Without further ado, here’s my take on Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Short Documentary, Best Documentary, Best Animated Feature and Best Foreign Film.

Best Animated Short Film

It was obvious that this gong would go to Pixar short Bao. The first Pixar short created by women, it tells the story of a mother-son relationship between a woman and a dumpling. It is a beautiful metaphor that shows the ups and downs of family life as Bao grows up and eventually starts to make questionable life choices. This film wasn’t for everyone and it’s understandable why but I loved it and thought it was a very touching and maternal piece of work. It brought something new to the table at Pixar, whose repertoire as of late has consisted of sequels and prequels and showed why audiences fell in love with it in the first place by injecting the passion and originality voiced by the animators and artists who work there.

Best Live Action Short

The winner of this award was Skin, a story of modern day racism in American which follows a Neo-Nazi who is kidnapped by a group of African Americans after organising a racial attack of his own and he is then tattooed completely black. The win in this category shows the importance to tell stories about the racial divide that still exists today.

Best Short Documentary

Nothing felt better for my feminist heart than seeing a crowd of women fill the stage to accept an Oscar for a film about menstruation. Period. End of Sentence explores women living in India whose education had been cut short due to their periods due to a lack of access to sanitary pads. A group of women team up and begin to manufacture sanitary pads so young girls and women can go to school and worship at temples. It is a brilliant insight into global inequality and puts to rest the patriarchal belief that gender equality exists. It also opens the gate for non-white female filmmakers to talk about subjects that are considered taboo in the same vein as Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid whose film, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness that explores the so-called honour killings in her home country previously won an Oscar in the same category three years ago. The bravery that these women have to exploit these issues shows how powerful the medium of film is in communicating these topics to a society that tends to cover it’s ears to the problem.

Best Documentary

Free Solo follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to free climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The filming itself proved to be a challenge as the production team had to ensure that Honnold was in no way hindered by bulky microphones or other film equipment. To do this they had a sound technician who knew how to rock climb and climbed alongside him. This is shows real innovation in filmmaking and brings a unique angle on this story rather than just having cameras at the top and bottom of the mountain.

Best Animated Feature

This year saw a welcome departure from the usual Disney win with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse winning the gong. It proved to be hugely popular mainly due to its inclusiveness in narrative as well as the animation itself which differs from the usual large-eyed computer animation that we have become accustomed to. This year also saw Wes Anderson’s return to animation with Isle of Dogs which was absolutely brilliant. Although not as strong as Fantastic Mr. Fox, Isle of Dogs gave the most star-studded cast from any of this year’s films and injected it into a tale about the love between a young boy and his dog.

Best Foreign Film

This category was one of the big competitions of the night. The pundits rightly put their money on Mexico’s entry, Roma, but it would be wrong to ignore the ferociously strong competition from Poland’s Cold War and Japan’s Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters. This year was a tremendous year for international film and I think Roma’s popularity specifically proves that mainstream audiences want to see non-English language films. There’s been a lot of debate on whether Roma should even qualify for awards season given that it is a Netflix film but I personally feel that using streaming it on Netflix means that millions of people will have a chance to watch a film that they may not ordinarily watch. I do think this debate played apart to its loss in the Best Picture race as I feel that the Academy may have felt that the Best Foreign Film win would suffice; however, there is no doubt that Roma was one of the most discussed films of the year and it won’t easily be forgotten.

That’s it for my second Creative awards roundup. My next post will look at the last batch of Creative awards: best song, best score, best costume design, best makeup and best Production design.

What do you think of the winners? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!

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