Do the Oscars Impact Whether Or Not We Watch Foreign Films
There is a universal belief that people in English speaking countries don’t like movies with subtitles. Some believe that in North America this may be primarily due to the volume of homegrown movies which Hollywood spews out every year. With so many English film options, most people tend to bypass reading subtitles for two hours in favor of being able to watch the action unfold without having to rely on translations.
A rundown of the top most popular films in the U.S. seems to confirm this in that not a single foreign film makes the list. In fact, according to gross profits, the last time a foreign movie made a significant impact on American audiences was 2007 with the release of the Mexican film Under the Same Moon. Furthermore, if we gage movies by how much money they’ve pulled in since their release, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Taiwanese film that hit theatres in 2000, is the foreign film which has carried the most weight throughout that last decade.
Image via Photopin
Perhaps though, it’s not really our fault. With so many excellent American films coming out every year, it can be hard to find the time to add foreign films to our must-watch lists. And although dubbing can breach the language barrier, many people believe this mutes the power of certain films, making them less likely to watch them. Without a doubt, this is a dangerous way of thinking as it closes us off to some truly brilliant works. A good way to delve into the movie watching culture in North America is to consider the following questions: what influences the movies we watch? Do reviews make a difference? And do awards shows like the Oscars have any impact on whether or not we take note of foreign movies?
First of all, film viewers are mostly impacted by what they see on YouTube, and research shows that in North America an astonishing 4 out of 5 people will do their research on this popular site prior to choosing which film to watch. A second thing to note is that films reach their peak of popularity right after they are released. During this period, most movies pull in the big bucks and viewership is at its highest. It is perhaps for this reason that foreign films struggle the most; in North America people are much less likely to hear about them and many theatres looking to show films which are sure to draw in the masses forgo playing the risk game with films from other parts of the globe.
Image via PhotoPin
So, you may be thinking, the Oscars doesn’t really impact whether or not we watch foreign films because, according to statistics we are more likely to be sold English speaking movies anyways. However, this is actually not the case. Films like Ida (the Polish movie which won the 2015 Oscar for Best Foreign Film) have in fact helped to boost the popularity of other foreign films in English speaking nations like the U.K. According to statistics, not only are people more likely to watch Oscar winning films, but also more open to viewing other popular foreign movies – especially those which were nominated but did not win the award.
Image via PhotoPin
Another excellent example is the Mexican work Y Tu Mama Tambien which was nominated for an Oscar in 2003. Although the film didn’t walk away with the prize, the prestige which comes with being nominated for an Oscar got people talking about (and watching) the movie, and in the following years Latin American cinema saw a surge in popularity abroad. You can probably see then how valuable the Oscars is in helping to promote foreign cinema in nations where exposure would otherwise be very low.
And at the end of the day, watching a movie can be an intense visual and auditory experience which you want to enjoy to the fullest. The best way to get the most out of all these foreign works is by learning the language so you can enjoy the films subtitle free! You can do this by signing up for excellent language lessons and freshening up your skills with free online placement tests. Watching foreign movies can also be a fun addition to your language learning journey; all you need to do is offer your time and you will reap the rewards of a wider sampling of wonderful movies to see.