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“Her” overlooked Oscar potential

Oscar season is here, and for those who are keeping track, it has become more akin to “March Madness,” with brackets to be filled out, but for movies instead of teams. However, those who take award season more seriously tend to skew towards an older demographic, and herein lies the problem.

This year, movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Gravity” and “American Hustle” inhabit a prominent place in the race for the golden statue, yet one film whose social relevance is bound to be overlooked when it comes time to award the best film is “Her.”

Statistically, according to a 2013 Nielson survey, movie audiences are getting younger. Yet, fundamentally, “Her” is the epitome of a cultural shift in Hollywood. This movie is made for those born after Gen X, for those who were born holding an iPhone.

The film, with its highly stylized look at the future, where phone sex is the norm and video game characters swear back at you, has put off older audiences. Those not used to the fast-paced worlds of Twitter, Instagram and Vine might naturally think that the movie is strange and its premise too extreme.

Here, we have a narrative that can easily be viewed a realistic glimpse of the near future. For those that are born nowadays, it’s not that far-fetched to imagine a living a life integrated with an operating system (OS).

Sure, the idea of having a romantic relationship with said OS would still be taboo, yet the metaphor that we cannot live without technology has never been more appropriate than it is today.

Next time you are in a large lecture hall, look around and count how many faces are buried deep in their smartphones. The answer may surprise you, and this is why the message of “Her” succeeds.

The issue with the Oscars then becomes why the voters overlook a film with such a grasp on the pulse of the generatinoal zeitgeist. And if the voters announce their decision to award “American Hustle” Best Picture over either of these two films, they will once again show their irrelevance, at least among those votes that supposedly count for the rest of us.

This isn’t designed as a knock against “American Hustle,” mind you, that was a completely enjoyable film. If given the award, all it would signify is another star-studded movie that wins a Best Picture award because it has all the resources to campaign more effectively than a smaller movie. No, in order to show that they understand the age shift that is happening with movies today, Oscar voters should be looking to the future.

 

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