For those of us who weren't doing slow, emphatic clapping with tears streaming down our faces when 12 Years A Slave inevitably scooped the Best Picture prize at the 2014 Oscars, there was the lurking suspicion that the film's triumph might have had as much to do with its subject matter as its actual quality.
As host Ellen DeGeneres put it, to equal laughs and winces from the audiences: "Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility number two: You're all racists."
Worse than the chance that some Academy members bypassed their critical faculties after viewing Steve McQueen's film and voted for it out simply of a sense of duty though, is new reports claiming that some plumped for it without even having watched the movie.
A Los Angeles Times article on the Oscars states:
'Two Oscar voters privately admitted that they didn’t see 12 Years A Slave, thinking it would be upsetting. But they said they voted for it anyway because, given the film’s social relevance, they felt obligated to do so.'
Putting aside the fact that grown adults couldn't bring themselves to watch not a snuff film but a historical drama, in spite of that being their one job, the report lends weight to the view that cinematic excellence does not always come first at the Academy Awards.
12 Years A Slave also picked up awards in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay categories at the ceremony, while Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity was the most decorated film with seven prizes.
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