A few days ago The Golden Globes went largely as predicted, critics’ darling Boyhood took home the prize for the Best Film (Drama), Best Comedy went to Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and (I’m trying not to be too smug) as I predicted Eddie Redmayne has won the first award on the way to taking home the Best Actor at this year’s Oscars for his extraordinary portrayal of Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
Yet. And it’s a big yet. My favourite film of 2014 (see the full top ten of 2014 here) lost out in the Best Animation Category (I can only just forgive the snub of leaving it out of Best Film). Yes, The Lego Movie was awarded nothing and the good – but thoroughly unremarkable in comparison – How To Train Your Dragon 2 took home a golden globe.
Don’t get me wrong, HTTYD is a great series, in fact the two films are undoubtedly the finest films to come out of Dreamworks since the very first Shrek film. So why is How to Train Your Dragon 2 simply a good animated movie and The Lego Movie the best film of 2014?
Because The Lego Movie encourages the anarchic side of having fun and enjoying yourself, it tells you to try and break out of the mould to be someone special. And that ultimately there is something special and good in all of us. What does HTTYD2 inspire us to be? There’s an element of this kind of freedom and breaking the mould in that film too but there’s never a real reason for it, Hiccup simply disobeys his father because he wants to, he rides a dragon because he can and he helps people because that’s what he was “born to do” . Emmet, well he just does it because he so desperately wants to help people and do a good thing. Isn’t that the sort of message we want to pass on to youngsters? To be kind for the sake of being kind, not because we may be a hero and leader for doing it.
The Lego Movie also has a distinctly more commendable message in that it encourages youngsters to be creative, and stand up to those who tell them not to be so. When Emmet, who is essentially a drone working for a nameless organisation, realises that he can be special by simply doing something other than what everyone has told him to do he inspires a generation of youngsters to question authority, learn for themselves and play by their own rules.
But the real reason The Lego Movie is so good is because it is a wonderfully constructed analogy for modern society.
Forgive me for delving too deep into the majesty of what many will say is simply a children’s cartoon based on a toy but consider the beginning of the movie. Emmet lives his life by the instructions, he is following the rules forced on him by a society which is ruled by a huge business, he buys overpriced coffee, watches the same terrible television shows designed to keep him happy and he listens to the same song composed to make him think his life is “Awesome”. Sound familiar? Ultimately this young lego chap, special for no real reason, ends up toppling the society built by big business and creates a world in which people are free to let their creativity and individuality run wild. If that isn’t a call to arms Russell Brand would be proud of I don’t know what is. Of course, it isn’t the only satire of modern life to make it to cinemas this year (Nightcrawler is an equally biting criticism of capitalism and journalism) but it is also one which is hilarious, heartwarming and accessible (and enjoyable) to all ages.
It may sound odd to get so angered by such a small slight as not being given an award but it isn’t at all, in fact it’s far more serious than that. To me this snub is representative of film award ceremonies as a whole. Ask yourself this, when did the last film which satirised capitalism win an Oscar? Perhaps I’m paranoid. Or maybe, just maybe, the movie business would prefer for films which promote a dragon who overpowers and becomes the leader of other dragons to win awards not one of the average joe overthrowing multinational businesses. It seems that the dragons who run media corporations have something to lose here…
Although many criticise the whole awards bravado as being completely off the mark most of the time but perhaps it is more political than you may think. Either way, The Lego Movie should win an Oscar this year and if it doesn’t perhaps we should think more of it as more than the choice being simple preference but of something far more disturbing.
Image Rights; Disney | Lego