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It's clear that the Coens think so-called "prestige pictures" can be just as much a joke as any other type of movie.Lately, the narrow parameters of movies celebrated by the Academy Awards in the best picture category haven't been quite so funny. Self-serious prestige films have long found a ready seat at the Oscars, while films starring or directed by minorities have struggled.This year's best picture nominees boast a handful of films from outside the academy's traditional comfort zone, most notably George Miller's much-nominated post-apocalyptic chase film "Mad Max: Fury Road".Many of the films that could have put a charge into this year's awards didn't fit the limited confines of Oscar bait. Few African American actors have ever won for a film by a black director.The Oscars are less about rewarding the best films than affirming Hollywood's sense of itself – which is why exclusion so outrages.That's one reason that Alejandro Inarritu's "Birdman" – a film about a Hollywood star striving for artistic salvation outside of superhero films – won best picture last year.
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