Last week saw the annual parade of extravagance at the Academy Awards. Some criticism has been levelled at the Oscars for not reflecting the choices of the average cinema goer, with big-budget films under represented. However, at its heart, the Academy Awards are there to acknowledge more than the cost of making a film or the number of ticket receipts. Instead, the emphasis is on the story and the delivery. Films revolving around a health condition, naturally have a strong narrative, and as such, lend themselves to critical acclaim and awards ceremonies.
The upshot of this is that, in the last few years, the oscars have featured a number of films with strong health themes. However, these films are not only there to make up the numbers. Instead they have frequently been taking the highest accolades. Last weeks ceremony featured a number of films that included health issues. The best feature category was won by Birdman, which portrays a past his prime actor with a strong whiff of an underlying mental health issue.
In fact, insidious depressive illnesses have featured heavily in recent years at the Oscars. Depression is not the only mental health condition highlighted in recent films, with films such as Nebraska and Still Alice, Foxcatcher and American Sniper taking on dementia, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, mental health is not the only health topic in the spotlight. Physical illnesses such as Motor Neurone Disease (Eddie Redmayne), HIV/AIDS (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto), and cancer (August, Osage County) have also been represented in the last few of years. The prominence of mental and physical illnesses in such critically acclaimed films serves as a reminder of how effective film can be as a tool for conveying health messages to an audience. It seems that at the highest level, great films are regularly produced that are able to deliver important health messages to a wide audience. The bottom line is there are great films out there with health themes and people are heading in their droves to watch them. There is a real opportunity to build off the back of this to further raise awareness surrounding certain conditions.