Oscar Chat with Dennis Bingham Part 1

To prepare for the 2017 Academy Awards The Campus Citizen talked to IUPUI’s film studies director, Dennis Bingham. Bingham believes that 2016 was a strong year for film.

“I think some very good films came out in 2016. Despite the difficulty that the independent cinema has been having, you look at the best picture nominees and the only three best pictures nominees are major studios, ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Arrival,’ and ‘Fences.’ The rest are independent, or semi-independent as we call it.”

Bingham said that he felt unqualified to discuss all the nominations because he hadn’t seen all of the best picture nominees including “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Lion,” and “Manchester by the Sea.” But he can agree with the overall consense of “La La Land,” which earned a record tying 14 nominations, the others being “Titanic” and “All About Eve,” as he has seen it and very much enjoyed it.

"La La Land" comes in with a tying record of 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards

"La La Land" comes in with a tying record of 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards

“As somebody who really follows musicals, and teaches a course on them (FILM-C351), the word I would use is ‘miraculous.’ It’s very unusual to have an original musical, and it’s the best original musical since ‘Mary Poppin’ (1964). Musicals that manage to be made are based on massively popular Broadway shows, and these days, it takes years. And ‘La La Land’ with Damien Chazelle (director) and Justin Hurwitz (composer), it’s as much a personal film as you’ll find.”

He hopes “La La Land” wins many of the awards, but doubts it’ll get to over the record of 11 wins that other films such as “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic,” and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” have earned.

The film is up for two nominations in the same category, best original song, and Bingham thinks Lin Manuel-Miranda actually has a good chance of beating “La La Land” for his song, “How Far I’ll Go” in “Moana.”

“The Academy loves giving best original song to prominent artists, but if they really do like ‘La La Land’ then they’ll most likely vote for ‘City of Stars’ which is still the big frontrunner.”

Professor Dennis Bingham, director of the Film Studies program at IUPUI

Professor Dennis Bingham, director of the Film Studies program at IUPUI

He found the two biggest snubs for this year be Amy Adams not being nominated for her role in “Arrival” and Hugh Grant for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Bingham did compliment, however, the acting categories as he said that it just shows how crowded they were with good performances.

For his predictions, the major categories, he thinks “La La Land” will take home best picture, director, and leading actress, “Moonlight” for supporting actor and adapted screenplay, “Fences” for leading actor and supporting actress, and “Manchester by the Sea” for original screenplay.

An issue within the Academy that has arose in the past couple of years is the #OscarsSoWhite slogan due to the acting categories being strictly whites only with no minorities being nominated. With that issue becoming a bigger deal in 2016, the Academy took it to hands to make sure this sort of problem will be fixed.

Bingham doesn’t believe that movies are being nominated strictly for diversity this year but instead focusing on good films that happen to feature minorities.

“The issue which has been pointed out time and again is, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ The Academy overlooked ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ but a film about rap artists is probably not in the Academy’s interest, but there’s three films about African-Americans that are nominated for best picture this year. The issue is more the industry than the Academy. Films have been really slow on catching up with our diverse culture, and until you have more stories being produced about women and people of color that will have white males in the audiences to be willing to identify with a female or African American protagonist, then you’ll know the culture is changing, and then the industry will change, and the Oscar nominations will follow.”

Check up on The Campus Citizen for the follow up on part one this Sunday where we go into the technical aspects of the awards.