Boyhood should have been named Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards
This debate is tailored for film lovers who value true cinema. The topic revolves around Birdman"s controversial win for Best Picture. I am taking the stance that Birdman, or any other picture, should not have won in place of Boyhood. In order to accept my challenge, place a brief summary of what you intend to argue in the comments. (Note: You do not have to argue that Birdman deserved to win, only that Boyhood did not deserve to win Best Picture). Anyone who accepts this challenge without my consent will be forced to forfeit.
There will be 4 rounds with Round One acting as a mere acceptance round.
Round 1: Challenge
Round 2: Opening Statements
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Rebuttal and Closing Statements.
LET"S KEEP THIS CIVIL BUT IMPASSIONED!
Thanks to my opponent for accepting this debate. I apologize for not posting my opening arguments sooner.
Just a clarification to future voters, we are debating whether or not the film Boyhood should have won Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. I am taking the pro stance that Boyhood should have won (giving me the BoP). Before I begin my arguments, I ask that any future voters do not vote based on their own preferences of the film, instead base your vote on my opponent’s arguments and mine.
With formalities out of the way, onto my opening arguments.
The Oscars are notorious for disappointing both critics and fans in their selection for Best Picture winner. 2014’s 12 Years a Slave triumphing over Gravity, 2013’s Argo triumphing over all other nominees, 1997’s Shakespeare in Love triumphing over Saving Private Ryan, and 1994’s Forrest Gump triumphing over Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption: these are just a few examples of the long line of noteworthy Oscar snubs. This past year, the Oscars gave one of their greatest snubs ever in their failure to recognize Boyhood for Best Picture. My arguments will all revolve around the fact that Boyhood should have been named Best Picture because of its own cinematic mastery and the fact that it is a more worthy contender than any other nominated film of the past year.
My first point will utilize five key aspects of filmmaking Boyhood applies that make it a worthy Oscar winner.
1.) Technique. To argue on Boyhood’s behest and not mention it’s central concept would be negligent. So, for any who are not aware, Boyhood was made over the course of 12 years using the same 4 actors with additional characters popping up every once in a while. This gamble alone should have won Richard Linklater the Best Director Oscar (Which it did not!).
2.) Writing. Boyhood’s writing is often subject to overwhelming praise from critics and near universal criticism from naysaying audience members. Some argue that Boyhood does not tell a proper story, includes little conflict, and ignores character development. To refute these arguments, firstly let me start out by saying that everything people complain about in regards to writing are actually there, just not overtly so. For example, there is a central story to Boyhood is growing up. This story is carried out in the changes the two parents go through as their children age into adulthood. The argument of little conflict may seem true, however the central conflict is stated from the beginning: the parents’ divorce. Lastly, the assertion that there is no character development is ludicrous. Firstly for the kid, Mason, we see him slowly come into his own identity (which is character development at it’s best). Secondly, the parents go through changes as well. The father undergoes growth by finally maturing into a proper adult. The mother undergoes change by learning to be selfish, yet still maternal: a balance she had not yet discovered.
3.) Acting. Right alongside writing with the same dichotomy of criticism and praise is Boyhood’s acting. While audiences mostly criticize Ellar Coltrane’s performance, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette have had their fair share of bashing. My argument is that what some may view as bland and emotionless, others may view as low-key and underplaying the scene.
4.) Nostalgia. One thing that Boyhood seldom gets criticism for is its use of nostalgia. Depicting the adolescence of one of kid, Boyhood is the perfect throwback film for anyone of this generation.
5.) Authenticity. The last aspect Boyhood holds is it’s authenticity. No matter how many arguments are made against the film, people cannot deny that Boyhood’s depiction of life is extremely realistic.
In my future arguments, I will go further into these points. Also, I will address fact that Boyhood is a more worthy contender than any other nominated film of the past year.
As my opponent has told you, this debate will about whether or not the film Boyhood should have won the Best Picture award in the 87th annual Oscars. I will debate the point Boyhood did not deserve to win Best Picture. This round will not include any rebuttals, I will simply state my points.
So, without further adieu, I will begin my arguments.
Boyhood, a 12 year production, was a film that was very popular amongst audiences and critics. However, the popularity of this film is not because of the skill of the movie. The critics and audiences are confused between shock and skill. A good movie must, at the end of the day, have a good plot. Boyhood tries to obscure and cover this up through the 12 year gimmick and unusual writing. However, after laying down the faults of this film, without the distractions, you will see the film as nothing more than a movie trying to be clever and different, but failing, creating a terrible film in the process.
Boyhood was filmed over the span of 12 years. Keeping the same actors and actresses throughout the movie. However, this technique isn't a testament to how good of a movie it is. It is a gimmick. This technique is how it attracts viewers to the movie as it is intriguing and unprecedented.But this doesn't make it a good film.
Gimmicks have been shown in movies time and time again. The film Avatar used 3D visuals. This was shown ,at the time, as a clever way to engage audiences. However, after every movie used it, and the spotlight was on the writing,and the movie was simply passed off as cliché. Boyhood is very similar.
The difficulty of filming a movie, isn’t a factor into the effectivity. This 12 year filming method should not decide how good of a movie it is. A movie is meant to entertain and engage, and since this 12 year filming method did not do so, it is a gimmick, not meant for the film, but for the marketing of the film.
The writing in Boyhood has confused many. It is seen as very realistic to the experience of life.But in reality, that is just an excuse make sure we don't see the writing for what it is. Clumsy,awkward,cliché and cringe worthy. I will break the writing into many points as this is a large point and it has many sub-points.
Boyhood is a clumsy and unorganized film. It cuts from one point in his life to another.He turns from an innocent boy to a drinking,smoking teenager, with only a cut as a transition. This quick and rushed jump of innocence and maturity seems out of place and clumsy. The film has little to no flow. It seems like they just cut together home video clips and called it a film. This ineptitude should not be in a Hollywood film.
The entire film of Boyhood is made up of clichés. The way it shows maturity, is by using every obvious clichés in life and in Texan culture.
Teenagers are often seen as constantly drinking, smoking and having sexual intercourse without any thought of repercussions. The first scene of Mason (the main character) as a teenager is literally him on top of a girl, drinking and smoking.
Another cliché Boyhood uses is the connection between Texans and guns. Texans are commonly seen as a place in which everyone revolves around guns and has violence as their first option. For Mason's birthday, he gets a gun, given to him by his grandfather. This lack of originality makes it look like a copy and it detracts from the film.
These are just few of the many clichés in Boyhood.
The film boyhood uses nostalgia to its extreme. To the point of manipulation. I will explain this.
Nostalgia is the only emotion felt throughout this film and everyone can enjoy a bit of nostalgia. From the popularity of the Wii, to the awkward time we learned about sexual intercourse, these are moments many people went through in this generation.
However, while nostalgia is a useful tool, it is not what should control a film. If nostalgia is all you can feel, then a film is taking advantage of your emotions and memories to try to replicate the feeling we had at the time. This just seems cheap and tacky. It can’t make you feel emotions through writing a good scene, so it just brings back nice memories. A very flawed method indeed.
As said previously, the only emotion felt in this film is nostalgia. However, this can only be felt by a certain demographic. Anyone born in the 60s had a very different upbringing, not allowing them to feel this nostalgia. This also means anyone from the future who has a different upbringing will not feel this nostalgia, ensuring the film will be dated and boring to anyone in the future. A good film can overcome this. Examples of films that are just as entertaining now as it was when it was released include Psycho,Star Wars, The Godfather, The Shining. Despite these movies being filmed at different times, the enjoyment is not lost. Boyhood will lose all nostalgia, and therefore value, over time.
Progression and Anticlimaxes
A movie is essentially a path. From introduction to climax, a film uses a path to progress towards something. This is not a rigid system, it is a system that allows us to clearly see the outline of a movie. Characters in a film work towards something, just like in life. The path builds up to a large and effective climax. It is like climbing a vertical wall, constantly building and climbing until we get to the summit, the climax being the summit. However, Boyhood does not do any of this. The film is anticlimactic. It is difficult to see what they are working towards. What is the function of all the abuse Mason takes. Does it make him into a stronger person? Does it destroy his morality? We don't know. We aren’t shown any sign of how Mason has psychologically changed. There is no climax or path. It is just unconnected events, turning into a boring film.
These are fundamental flaws in the writing of this film, leading to a boring film.
Boyhood is a film that had lackluster writing,a gimmicky and unoriginal story, and no flow. This, undoubtedly, results in a bad film, and a bad film should not win Best Picture. Especially against other, beautiful films.
These are my initial points. I may elaborate on them with rebuttals and refutement, given by my opponent in the next round. Until then, I look forward to continuing this debate.
HermanGomez95 forfeited this round.
May my opponent return, and continue this debate.
Thanks to my opponent for a greatly rounded opening statement. I’d also like to thank him for his consideration of my unintentional forfeit. I promise not to be so careless in the future.
In this round, I’ll avoid rebutting my opponent’s statements and instead continue my own arguments, saving all rebuttals for the final round.
I will, however, like to address one quote for my opponents arguments: “A good movie must, at the end of the day, have a good plot. Boyhood tries to obscure and cover this up through the 12 year gimmick and unusual writing. However, after laying down the faults of this film, without the distractions, you will see the film as nothing more than a movie trying to be clever and different, but failing, creating a terrible film in the process.”
This is inherently false. Firstly, the fact that a film has a good plot does not necessarily mean it’s a good movie. For example, I think we will all agree that the plot for Charles Dickins’ A Christmas Carol is very good. However, does this make every single adaption of it a good movie? No. Further aspects including acting, direction, dialogue, and innovativeness make a good movie. For example, 2001: A Space Odyssey has a very complex plot that’s not necessarily good because it ignores one of the key aspects of a plot: character development. However, despite the plot, the film is a landmark of cinema because of it’s innovation and direction. Boyhood’s 12 year gimmick is innovative.
Furthermore, I’d like to address the fact that Boyhood does have a plot that goes from A to Z: growing up. While my opponent while undoubtedly argue that this is no plot, I’d like to use the standard 5 act plot set up most people are familiar with.
1. Exposition: We are introduces to Mason and his parents. Mason’s parents are divorced. The plot that will follow is growing up with divorced parents.
2. Rising Action: Single and needed to return to school, Mason’s mother moves to Huston. Because of the divorce, Mason’s mother remarries. However, a conflict is the fact that her husband is a narcissistic alcoholic. She divorces him and moves again. While this is going on, Mason continually sees his father, who slowly grows from being an immature parent in his late twenties to a standardized “castrated” (as he calls himself in the film) father in is early forties. As mason continues to age, his relationship with his parents continues to evolve, with him noticing much more of his mother’s problems along the way. Essentially, the rising action of the film is showing Mason’s own awareness as it develops over 12 years.
3. Turning Point: the “climax” of the movie happens at Mason’s graduation party, where his parents finally achieve a sort of peace that allows Mason to leave home.
4. The Falling Action: Mason’s father tells him he needs to keep pushing forward. Mason’s mother finally admits that she feels there should have been more in life. Both of these revelations affect Mason as he ventures off to college.
5. Resolution: At college, Mason realizes that life is nothing but a conglomerate of moments, and the only way to enjoy it is to live in the moment. This represent closure for him due to the fact that throughout the entire movie, Mason’s done nothing but avoid the moments. He chooses not to listen to his teachers, ignore the drama of his parents, and avoid feeling much. His realization that he needs to let the moment take him is his form of growing up.
I could go further, but for the sake of time and characters I’ll stop here and wait to refute my opponent in the final round.
First off , I would like to start by informing the voters and audience of a recent development.
When my opponent said " I could go further, but for the sake of time and characters I’ll stop here and wait to refute my opponent in the final round", he believed there were five rounds. He acknowledged this mistake via a private message.
On another note, because of the complications in this debate, I will not post any closing statements, nor will I rebut my opponents last round. I will only rebut my opponents opening arguments. The voters will have to judge purely on these.
"To argue on Boyhood’s behest and not mention it’s central concept would be negligent. So, for any who are not aware, Boyhood was made over the course of 12 years using the same 4 actors with additional characters popping up every once in a while. This gamble alone should have won Richard Linklater the Best Director Oscar (Which it did not!)."
A difficult or time consuming concept does not make a movie better. As I had stated, the difficulty to complete a film doesn't add to its effectivity in engaging and entertaining an audience. Instead we must see how this concept added to the film. For example, in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining", there is a very famous scene without any cuts-(https://www.youtube.com...). Now this was a difficult procedure to pull off, but the simple difficulty of it isn't why it is so famous. It is the effectivity of it and how the no cut method was used perfectly. Each time Danny (the child) turns a corner, there is quite a bit of suspense built up and we fear for Danny. This suspense/excitement adds to the movie.
My opponent has made no mention as to how this adds to the film. I argue it doesn't. If we did not know of this 12 year gimmick when watching the film, would the movie be worse? How could we know whether or not they used the same actors? How does using the same actors add to the film? My opponent has not stated this, making this point null.
"One thing that Boyhood seldom gets criticism for is its use of nostalgia. Depicting the adolescence of one of kid, Boyhood is the perfect throwback film for anyone of this generation."
As I had stated in my opening arguments, this nostalgia is cheap. Simply playing back moments we all went through is cheap. I had said:
"However, while nostalgia is a useful tool, it is not what should control a film. If nostalgia is all you can feel, then a film is taking advantage of your emotions and memories to try to replicate the feeling we had at the time. This just seems cheap and tacky. It can’t make you feel emotions through writing a good scene, so it just brings back nice memories. A very flawed method indeed."
I stand by this.
"Right alongside writing with the same dichotomy of criticism and praise is Boyhood’s acting. While audiences mostly criticize Ellar Coltrane’s performance, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette have had their fair share of bashing. My argument is that what some may view as bland and emotionless, others may view as low-key and underplaying the scene."
A movie cannot be both bland and "low-key".
Underplaying a scene is to play a part with subtlety. However, the acting is not subtle, but instead boring. This excludes Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arqueete, but the main character's acting should be stellar in a good film. Instead, Ellar Coltrane has little to no emotion. He is never seen crying or showing fear. He never signifies emotion in his voice. He just reads, in a monotone voice and face.
These are my rebuttals. Since my opponent only rebutted one of my points, and I rebutted three of his, I have many more valid points. The voters must now decide the quality of each rebuttal, and decide the winner.