Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Globalization of the Oscars

The Academy Awards Nominations were announced this week, and yesterday's Los Angeles Times ran an interesting article on how this year's top picks demonstrate the increasing emergence of a global film community. Here's part of the introduction:

Most days, everyone in Hollywood assumes that the world revolves around them. But as the nominations for the Academy Awards proved, show business is now revolving around the world.In saluting movies that were often made outside the nation's borders and that grappled with disquieting international issues such as terrorism, global warming and the personal costs of war and violence, Oscar voters Tuesday honored a collection of movies that were decidedly not Hollywood-centric.

The plots of three best picture nominees ("Babel," "The Queen" and "Letters From Iwo Jima") unfold overseas. Four of the five women competing for the best actress Oscar (Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet) are not American. Britain's Paul Greengrass ("United 93") and Stephen Frears ("The Queen") were nominated for best director, as was Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez IƱarritu ("Babel").

"The world is changing, and I think that the film community is now a global film community," Gonzalez IƱarritu said. "It's not anymore about cultural barriers or language barriers. It's emotion and humanity. We are using the power of cinema to cross borders. We are understanding that now there's a cultural connection that needs to happen. Most films can reveal the nature of other countries and other people around the world."
Read the whole article, which provides more details on the countries of origin for the films and nominees. I've long appreciated the global nature of film, as I've been a big fan of foreign cinema for some time. The article does note, however, that the emergence of a global film community has its origins in the American movie industry -- and especially Southern California. Many of the films had Hollywood as the creative or financial backbone for the production. Globalization has been and remains American-led, and the case of the internationalization of the Oscars is no exception.

This New York Times article also notes the heightened international flavor to this year's Oscar races.

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