The Help: The Should-Have-Been Best Picture Winner

The Help: The Should-Have-Been Best Picture Winner

A film poster of The Help, which offers the perspective of black maids in an era of profound racism.

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March 9, 2012 • Drew Gazetos, Journalism Student  
Filed under Arts and Entertainment

An Oscar is the most coveted award an actor, actress or production can receive in the world of cinema. And at the Oscar’s, no award holds as much prestige as the Best Picture Award.

This year, the winner was the silent film The Artist, up against nominees such as Midnight in Paris, The Descendents, and The Help. Many BHS students disagree with the Academy’s choice, and maintain that the The Help should have received the prestigious award.

So what does The Help have that makes it so appealing to students? The film takes a unique perspective on an era so pivotal in United States history. It is set in a time when African-Americans, though considered free, were still enslaved by dehumanizing social and working conditions, after their emancipation from slavery.

Nicole Leonard (’12) explains, “I loved the blend of history and the social aspect of the Jim Crowe laws. The acting made it very real – the way the women spoke of their troubles struck me deeply. A movie as deep and true to human spirit as The Help deserves an Academy Award.”

Students note that the film is exceptional in its ability to raise an emotional reaction from the audience. For instance, The Help’s portrayal numerous racist abuses by white employers victimizes the African Americans, provoking the audience’s hatred towards whites in power.

Students, such as Casey Ellis (’13) saw the film as emotionally engaging. “It was really able to evoke emotions”, she states. “I felt a lot of anger towards the white characters when they looked down on their black maids. It really made me feel disgusted, but that’s what kept me interested in it.”

Finally, students were impressed with the overall acting in the film, especially Viola Davis’s portrayal of Aibileen Clark, a middle aged black maid, who spent her entire life raising white children. Davis was considered the front-runner for the Best Actress Academy Ward this year, but surprisingly, the award went to Meryl Streep for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

“Viola Davis did a tremendous job acting,” explains Jaclyn Veillux (’12). “She had the right emotions set for each scene. When she acted it was as if she was speaking from the heart, like nothing was scripted. Although I absolutely adore the lovely Meryl Streep, I totally think Viola Davis should have won Best Lead Actress.”

The Help strongly appealed to many BHS students. Though The Artist may have won Best Picture, how many people actually bought a ticket to see the movie?

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