Watch: How Much Are the Oscars Shaped by Advertising?

Watch: How Much Are the Oscars Shaped by Advertising?

Most contests, of any sort, are rigged. The course by which the "winner" is chosen is never a straight one, and extenuating circumstances almost always shape outcomes. And yet we notice them. The Oscars are no exception. As many angry or indifferent essays may be written each year (!) about the ceremony, and about the awards, and about who won, and who was left out, and who should have been included, the Academy Awards nevertheless register with us, even if we’re not entirely sure how the awards were assigned. This deft and smart video essay by Leigh Singer takes a look at how the awards shape themselves, spotlighting the advertising motion picture companies do, by way of the insidious "For Your Consideration" tag, with its many variations. 

Watch: The 2016 Oscar for Best Actress: One Critic’s Approach

Watch: The 2016 Oscar for Best Actress: One Critic’s Approach

How *do* you determine who should win an award as grandiose as "Best Actress"? Do you flip a coin? Do you murmur an incantation? Is there someone you’re supposed to call, or possibly a helpline? Because surely the process by which the Academy makes these choices is anything but rational. What’s the lay-viewer, or even the not-so-lay-viewer, to do? Kevin B. Lee, in this video essay for Fandor (one of an ongoing series), has taken a quasi-mathematical approach to the choice for Best Actress, looking at the amount of time Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson, and Charlotte Rampling spend on screen, in minutes and hours, and then evaluating how effectively that time is spent. Sort of an equation, sort of… not. Which is about as practical an approach to the decision as I could imagine. Take a look.