Since I’ve joined the writing team on PCU, I’ve become the ‘award show expert.’ I start paying attention to professionals in the Fall to see what the top contending films will be in awards season. The last 2 years, I found myself watching most of the Oscar-Nominated Best Pictures so I can make my own decision on what should win. This year I have seen one film in its entirety and maybe about 1/3 of another. I’ve been trying to figure out what the issues are that have stopped me from seeing all the films.
The first thing I noticed, through the Fall of 2019, there wasn’t a film or two claiming all the ‘awards buzz,’ ala A Star is Born in 2018. While I did personally find all the extra buzz annoying, it did give the small movie reviewing blogger like me a place to start. When the Golden Globe and Screen Actor Guild Award Nominees were announced in December, I thought the nominations are all over the place and too many movies for me to try and watch in a short period of time.
When the Oscar Nominations were announced on Jan. 16th, I figured out my problem. I had no desire to see any of these films. Maybe it’s the maleness; maybe it’s the whiteness; perhaps it’s I’m tired of seeing progress being made one year then being slingshot back into the past the next. Of the nine movies nominated for best picture, 8 of them are directed by men, 7 of those white men and 6 of those movies the audience is **drum roll please** white men.
And the nominees are:
Ford v Ferrari – Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and James Mangold
The Irishman – Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Jojo Rabbit – Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi, and Chelsea Winstanley
Joker – Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Little Women – Amy Pascal
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach and David Heyman
1917 – Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and Callum McDougal
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino
Parasite – Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho
The last two years were a little more diverse than this. It’s like the old white male part of the voting body who forgot to vote last year woke up and made sure they sent their ballots in on time. If they were going to nominate a big-budget film full of big-name stars with violence and CGI, they could have nominated Avengers: End Game along with The Irishman.
The next issue, seeing what a well organized Oscar campaign can do for a film. As I look at Rotten Tomatoes, Joker is the worse reviewed of the nine nominated films. All the critics agreed that Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was stellar but the movie not so much. An acting nod under these circumstances wouldn’t have been unusual but the best picture, NOPE.
And since I’m talking about acting nominations and I started this rant off about inclusion, out of a possible 20 acting nominations, only 2 actors of color turned in brilliant performances? I think NOT.
Some of the performances that the academy unjustly ignored this year:
Wesley Snipes in My Name is Dolemite
With all the changes that the Academy made to the voting body following Oscars So White in 2016, the nominations and voting are still skewing against diversification. They are still choosing the smaller art-house films over the films that are better reviewed and widely released.
The Oscar’s Award show airs this Sunday at 8 pm on ABC; I’m probably not going to watch. There will be something more exciting on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.