Oscar entries look to past

Oscar entries look to past

LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
Oscar entries look to past

Last year at the 83rd Academy Awards, period film ‘The King’s Speech’ won four Oscars from its 12 nominations.

Of the nine films up for Best Picture Oscar on Feb. 24, only three are set in the last decade, fueling debate over whether our current troubled times are fueling a nostalgia for the past.

Last year only two of the 10 on the best film shortlist were period pieces, including the eventual winner, “The King’s Speech,” but this year two thirds are set well in the past.

Some say the preponderance of historically-focused films is a coincidence, but others see significance that only three, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Descendants” and “Moneyball,” are set in the 21st century.

All the others are firmly anchored in the last century, from World War I (War Horse) to the 1960s civil rights movement (The Help) passing by the silent movie era (The Artist) and the 1920s (Midnight in Paris).

“The studios think the audience will receive them better if they have some sort of nostalgic connection,” said Brent Simon, president of Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

“One of the advantages of telling a story in the past is that you are able to have insight on that society’s cultural arc,” added Brunson Green, producer of “The Help.” “So it carries more weight and affects audiences.”

Jason E. Squire, a writer and professor at the University of Southern California, said the large proportion of period films in this year’s Oscars is just a coincidence. “It’s very tempting to philosophize about these kinds of decisions and I don’t know whether you can really make a case about it or not,” he said, adding, “We could say ‘It’s a comment on the economic states of times,’ where countries are struggling to find a proper economic footing, so that triggers a nostalgia for the past.”