Oscar nominees for fighting climate change
JHe probably remembers the first time climate change caused a stir at the Oscars in 2007 when Al Gore was there. An inconvenient truth won not one, but two Oscars: Best Documentary and Best Original Song. But it’s far from the only film to tackle the issue – and more talk about climate change isn’t limited to documentaries.
We’ve taken a look at the Best Picture nominations over the past four decades and noticed a significant increase in films that address the climate crisis in some way. Not only is this topic being touched upon more and more in mainstream films, but doing so in a creative and compelling way seems to be an important part of connecting with viewers’ experiences in their own lives.
The first real moment has come Erin Brockovich, Released in 2000, the film is not only about climate change, but also a fascinating synthesis of the stories of environmental justice and corporate responsibility that are at the heart of the climate story.
Another seven years passed before the next climate film won Best Picture. In 2007, two films were released that addressed the main issues of global environmental crises: Michael Clayton it was a legal drama about a chemical company accused of concealing the fact that its weed killer was carcinogenic and there will be blood Based on the California oil boom.
After that, that’s when things really picked up and became much more open about climate change. You have films where the public is encouraged to imagine a more sustainable world: Avatar released in 2009, Black Panther In 2018 and Avatar: The Waterway last year (and this Sunday for Best Picture). And then there are movies that show what a climate-disrupted future will look like if we don’t act. Thinking Smart Max: The Bristle Path In 2015 and Tents 2021 Beasts of the Wild South in 2013 and 2019 A parasitewon the best picture of 2020. And how can we forget the blockbuster of 2021 Don’t look up? The film used satire and an asteroid to expose our current state of simultaneous urgency and complacency when it comes to addressing climate change.
These films can be grouped into two categories: films that treat our own experience of climate change as analogies to a fictional world of realities, e.g. Avatarand where climatic effects and real-world narratives affect the lives of realistic characters, e.g Beasts of the Wild South. That second category is the minority, but it’s where more attention is needed, says Anna Jane Joyner, founder and CEO of Good Energy, an organization that helps TV and film makers tell good climate stories. .
Learn more: Imagine if Hollywood actually made climate stories
Analyzing more than 37,000 TV and movie scripts for a series of key terms, researchers from Good Energy and the University of Southern California found that between 2016 and 2020, only 2.8% of those stories mentioned climate change last year. Of course, the vast majority of Best Picture nominations have nothing to do with climate change, let alone the environment – this small group represents just 4% of the 271 films nominated since 1980.
“When the vast majority of TV shows and movies we watch depict a world other than the one we live in, it creates a false sense of normality that is very dangerous,” Joyner says. “But it’s also not good for the story because you create a disconnect between the audience and the characters. … As the climate continues to deteriorate over the next five, certainly 10 years, and you’re telling a story that’s happening on this earth that doesn’t acknowledge climate change now or in the future, it feels disconnected from climate change. Viewers’ lives are, you know, like showing flip phones instead of iPhones.
But Joyner is excited about what lies ahead. “The stories coming out over the next five years will set the precedent for how climate change is told in narrative films. It’s a creative time when stories are so important, and it’s exciting because writers can do things that no one else has ever done before.
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