With the Oscar nominations being released on Jan. 13th and the ceremony now less than two weeks away on Feb. 9th, we have had plenty of time to see the movies and let our thoughts sink in, now it’s time to analyze and discuss the makeup of the nominees.
Most importantly, we can’t forget that this years Oscars shows an unwanted return to white male dominance.
The biggest precursors to the Oscars are always the Golden Globes and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTA’s). While they did not suggest a ton of diversity, it was widely believed they would not follow in their steps.
Rather, this year’s Oscars seemed to show even less diversity than the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s.
The biggest issues are in the directing and acting categories.
Greta Gerwig, following her phenomenal writing and directing debut with “Lady Bird,” put out another gem this year with her refreshing take on the classic “Little Women.”
While she did get the screenplay nod, Gerwig was snubbed from the directing category which features five men.
Gerwig could have easily been nominated over “Joker” Director Todd Phillips, and many experts believed this would be the case, but the Academy opted to leave her out and give “Joker” just another one of its 11 nominations.
While “Joker” is one of the biggest fan-favorites of the year, the movie missed the mark with many critics, with Phillips’ direction being a part of their grievances with the film.
Fortunately, one of the nominees for Best Director is Bong Joon-Ho. The South Korean Director has a rich filmography, but “Parasite” is one of the most beloved movies of the year from critics and fans alike.
His nomination is well warranted but it wouldn’t have been a total surprise if the Academy left him out considering their track record for not nominating foreign films in the major categories.
In the actress categories, many believed Jennifer Lopez would be a shoe-in and perhaps even the winner of the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category. She was completely snubbed, however, in favor of Kathy Bates for “Richard Jewell.” Bates is a veteran and a terrific actress but when it came down to giving Lopez’ “Hustlers” or “Richard Jewell” a nomination, the Academy opted to give it to Bates and “Richard Jewell,” keeping Lopez from earning her first nomination, while giving Bates her fourth nomination.
Additionally, Lupita Nyong’o and Awkwafina missed nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role, despite turning in top-notch performances. Nyong’o doubled as two horrifying characters in Jordan Peele’s “Us” while Awkwafina starred in the foreign hit, “The Farewell.”
Both performances received a lot of praise as did both movies, yet both movies were snubbed entirely.
There is some saving grace again here though. Cynthia Erivo earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Harriet.” The biopic about Harriet Tubman received a couple of nominations and it was nice to see the Academy recognizing her performance, though its highly doubtful she will win.
In the actor categories, Antonio Banderas got a nod for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his foreign film, “Pain and Glory.” Other than that, however, the rest of the actor nominees are white.
Nobody is really complaining here because most of the actor nominees were expected as they all gave tremendous performances. Even though the supporting category is stacked, some experts did believe Sterling K. Brown could have found his way into the nomination for his role in “Waves.”
“Waves” is yet another premium product from A24, and while critically acclaimed, the Academy continues to fail A24, missing “Waves” in every area.
It’s tough to get over our biases, and when you consider the names in the supporting category – Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins—we always expect career best performances.
It’s possible that because they are always Oscar-worthy and have been nominated so many times, we expect and hope they continue to be nominated. While Brown has found plenty of success in TV, he has never been nominated for an Oscar and he had such a wonderful opportunity in “Waves.”
Nevertheless, the Academy went for all the big, established stars.
Even Jamie Foxx and Michal B. Jordan’s “Just Mercy” was completely shut out from the Oscars despite lots of love.
Jordan is one of the most charismatic and versatile actors working today, yet still has not found his way into the Oscars and this role was clear Oscar bait.
Now, however, the movie looks like it flopped because of its star power, message and story, yet no major nominations to show for it. The movies success should not be debated just because it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.
The Oscars aren’t perfect and they leave out amazing movies every year. There is a lot to appreciate with the Oscars, but notably in 2020, there is a clear lack of diversified representation.