Samuel L. Jackson Weighs in on Award Season ‘Oscar Bait’ Movies
This past weekend, Samuel L. Jackson received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dubai International Film Festival and opened up a bit about award season and the types of films that so often receive awards. While Jackson is no stranger to working in Academy Award-nominated movies — his frequent collaborations with Quentin Tarantino have often led to Oscar consideration, and Jackson himself was nominated for Pulp Fiction — the actor was not shy about sharing his thoughts (via The Wrap) on the increasing politicization of award season and the films we are seeing as a result.
The politics of what happens during this time of year is very interesting in Hollywood. The movies they choose to say are amazing and great, you know — Manchester by the Sea, oh my god, you must see it, it’s an amazing film! But, ehh, I guess it is — to somebody.
It’s not an inclusive film, you know what I mean? And I’m sure that Moonlight will be thought of the same way. They’ll say, ‘Well, that’s a black movie. Where are the white people?’ We’ll say the same thing about Manchester by the Sea.
The underlying idea that Jackson seems to be getting at — that Hollywood should include diversity in all of its projects, big or small — is certainly a noble one, but it seems odd to single out these films as examples of movies that aren’t doing it right. The goal shouldn’t be to mix up the casting of a film like Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, but to ensure that there is plenty of space within the industry to let movies like Moonlight get made. Encourage people of color — filmmakers, directors, producers — to tell stories that are important to them and Hollywood will naturally diversify as a result.
There are all these ‘Oscar bait’ movies. I was looking at the trailer for this Will Smith movie the other day and I’m like, really? It’s another one of those, ‘Oh my God, life is so wonderful, take time to sniff the roses.’
To his point, Jackson has spent most of his career making the type of movies that are often ignored during award season. As a result, his resume is a mix of big-budget action movies and smaller genre fare, making Jackson both one of the most respected names in Hollywood and a bit of an outsider when it comes to quote-unquote “serious” Hollywood movies. While Jackon clearly has an idea of what movies should be — later in his comments, he admitted that he does not like to share his politics onscreen — there is something to be said for the idea that Hollywood should be willing to embrace good storytelling wherever they find it. I certainly wouldn’t say no to more action or science fiction movies getting in the mix come Oscar season.