Gordon in the News: last updated 06/13/2011

And The Winner Is: Oscar Nominations Reflect Cultural Realities, Say Gordon Communication Arts Profs

February 18, 2011

Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA—With the 83rd Academy Awards coming up on February 27, the nominations for best picture and the various categories reflect a broader range of cultural themes and economic realities than usual, according to two film professors at Gordon College.

This year’s best picture nominations were expanded to 10 movies (instead of the traditional six), a possible sign that the economic challenges of the country played a part in the Academy’s decisions, said Toddy Burton, assistant professor of communication arts and award-winning filmmaker.

“Oscar nominations do have an impact on getting people to the theatres,” Burton said. “It’s become harder and harder to attract audiences because we can watch films at home or online. So the nominations do play a role in bringing them to watch a film on the big screen, which has an artistic impact as well.”

The nominees tend to stay in the public consciousness, Burton said, but she believes this year’s don’t necessarily reflect quality as much as strong public relations campaigns. For instance, at the beginning of the award season, certain films like The Social Network gained quick recognition and accolades. Since then others, like 127 Hours and The King’s Speech have been heavily promoted by the studios, Burton said.

Though she found the nominations somewhat predictable, Burton said the range of both historical and fictionalized stories was interesting.

“There’s a fun variety of genres, visual/editing styles and settings in these 10,” said Rini Cobbey, associate professor of communication arts, who also feels like the common theme this year was eclectic. “It wasn’t the year of World War II or Shakespeare or blood-fests like some previous combinations, but there were several creative tellings of familiar storylines and a couple of less creative tellings of what could have been more exceptional films.”

So whom do the professors predict as winners? Both agree The King’s Speech is likely to win for both best picture and best actor. Burton—who also teaches screenwriting—thinks it too will win for original screenplay, though she thinks Inception is more deserving. Cobbey—who also teaches film criticism—believes the performances in The Fighter were “perfect,” though the storyline didn’t offer much to think about afterward.

The King’s Speech surprised me, mostly in its tone, quality and complexity of characters,” Cobbey said. “It was one of the few nominations that portrayed in totally engaging and creative ways a positive perspective on human relationships. And, of course, as a communication arts professor, I liked thinking about not just the public speaking issues, but the role of radio in its time.”


Gordon College is a multidenominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore, offering majors in 38 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is nationally recognized for excellence in academics and in character building, and ranks as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges. www.gordon.edu