It’s that time of the year again: nominations for the biggest night in the film industry, the 89th Academy Awards were released yesterday. The following films were nominated for Best Picture:

  1. Arrival
  2. Hacksaw Ridge
  3. Fences
  4. Hell of High Water
  5. Hidden Figures 
  6. La La Land
  7. Lion
  8. Manchester by the Sea
  9. Moonlight 

Most award show lovers have probably seen all the films and are ready to  sit in front of their televisions, drink wine and fill out their Oscar prediction cards. However, those who are film makers may not be attending view parties or hosting their own, reasons being the Oscar just might not be relevant to those on the independent side of the industry. According to an interview with two production members of Breakaway.com, the Oscars are relevant in their own “self-serving way.”

It feeds into the Hollywood model of these are the films “we” like and maybe you should, too. There are exceptional films, no doubt, but as a benchmark of what’s really moving cinema, I don’t look to the Oscars. They present a lot of the same thing, albeit done remarkably well.

For those within the independent film industry who create works of art not recognized by the Academy, it probably isn’t so relevant to them. The “Hollywood model” of the Academy awards has become repetitive the last few years: if the film features a white lead, it’s most likely a shoe-in for Best Picture (*cough* *cough,* La La Land). According to a Huffington Post article, the Oscars are basically a marketing tool, a way for the studios to make more money and rarely focus on the celebration of film as a true art form. This video explains the differences between independent film makers and studios, and helps to understand the main reason why film makers may not believe the Oscars are relevant in the industry.

On the other hand, I still think the Oscars hold some kind of importance to some film makers from small production companies seeking “Oscar buzz” for their films. Some of the indie films nominated for Oscars this year include Moonlight, I Am Not Your Negro, Fire at Sea and Life Animated… the list continues. Of course, most of these are documentaries, and excluding Moonlight, most of the films nominated for Best Picture are products of major studio companies. However, when an independent filmmaker gets an Oscar nomination, the awards definitely become more relevant. Those who work for small production companies, sometimes with little funding, can gain some serious attention when one of their films is nominated for an Oscar.

Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins.

The 2017 Academy Awards have some great films lined up, and I’ll admit it, I will be one of those people curled up on the couch with a glass of wine, watching with a friend or two. There is a little more diversity in the films this year, which is a huge step in the Academy world compared to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite. So with the addition of more films with actors, directors and film makers of color, maybe the Oscars will connect more with those who usually refuse to watch it. According to film reviewers around the Internet, Moonlight and La La Land are going head-to-head for the coveted Best Picture award, and if Moonlight wins, it will be a victory for both independent film makers and film makers of color.