Does the Academy’s Silence on Scorsese reflects the death of Intellectualism in Hollywood?

Looks like someone forgot to invite Silence to the party this year. After a complete lack of nominations at the Golden Globes, I had high hopes that Silence would gain a few nominations for the Oscars; notably Best Director for Martin Scorsese and Best Supporting Actor for Andrew Garfield. Whilst Andrew Garfield enjoys some much deserved recognition for the visceral masterpiece that is Hacksaw Ridge during this year’s award season, his role as Jesuit Priest Rodrigues is equally, if not more deserving of a nomination.

Silence is the culmination of over two decades of work for Scorsese, and offers and unflinching and often challenging insight into the religious and political conflict in Japan in the 17th Century. Many critics have suggested that the lack of recognition and disappointing box office performance of the film are caused by the overtly religious message throughout. I would agree, were it not for the comparative success of Hacksaw Ridge. Whilst set in a different time, the two stories bear some striking similarities. Both are about men of faith persisting with the courage of their convictions and belief in the face of extreme adversity. Both are set in Japan. Both convey overtly religious messages throughout, and yet one has received academy recognition and one has not.

A more likely reason for the snub on Silence is that the Academy is not interested in taking risks of any kind. Films like La La Land, a pretty love letter ‘to Hollywood, from Hollywood,’ were always destined to do well. That it would pick up quite so many Globes is something I hadn’t predicted, but it did not surprise me.

Scorsese’s Silence is a punishing watch. It offers no happy ending, nor arguably an ending at all. You do not end the film feeling uplifted and hopeful, as with Hacksaw Ridge. I believe films that are willing to go ‘off-formula’ are often the most rewarding in the long term, and this is true of Silence. I Have seen all the nominations for Best Picture, and maintain that Silence deserves a place amongst them.

My ‘Disappointing Oscar Prediction’s’ Piece will be up soon…

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