Race to the Oscars – Did the Academy Get It Right?

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Alex, Penelope and Shivani discuss the Oscar 2019 nominations – where the Academy hit bullseye, and everywhere it didn’t.

The 91st Academy Awards are fast approaching. It is arguably the biggest awards function of the year with numerous stars competing to win the coveted statue. Happening on 24th February at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, it will be attended by the biggest names in international cinema. Approximately 700 movies are produced and released every year, however, only around 50 movies make it to the Oscars every year. And like every single time, this year’s nominations have sparked a conversation among the film affectionadoes – both good and bad. In the spirit of this conversation we – Alex, Penelope and Shivani – will be having a roundtable discussion on the nominees, snubs and more.

Credit: Reuters

First, let’s talk about the snubs.

Shivani: 2018 saw the release of many critically acclaimed films like Eighth Grade, Crazy Rich Asians and A Quiet Place – none of which made it to the Academy nominations. John Krasinski’s directorial smash which featured a stellar performance by Emily Blunt was largely ignored, save for the one nomination in Sound Editing. I personally feel Krasinski should have at least been nominated for Best Director. And Emily Blunt deserves an Oscar for that bathroom scene alone (at least in my opinion). Meanwhile Crazy Rich Asians and Eighth Grade – both of which were culturally groundbreaking movies – weren’t even spared a glance.

Credit: Vulture

Penelope: In my opinion Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet deserved a nomination. The movie talking about meth addiction in young adults and its effect on the families, which was particularly deep and insightful. Having these two big acting names who have delivered stellar performances, it was shocking that there was no mention of a nomination. Especially for Chalamet, who took on the complex role of an addict and gave it a life of its own. I also agree with Shivani on the A Quiet Place snub. Krasinski’s directing made it the terrifying thriller that is, and it should have received an acknowledgement.

Credit: The Independent

Alex: I’m still surprised that even amongst all the other nominations for A Star is Born, that Bradley Cooper didn’t get the nod for Best Director. A raft of nominations came for this film, including of course for Best Original Song, but it is strange that despite all of the things that the Academy believe is good about the film, Cooper is completely overlooked for the nomination. The work that he had to put in on the film, and to be perhaps the only large name on the project not to be nominated is quite something.

Let’s now talk about the movie ROMA, who has proved the competency of Netflix in delivering award winning motion pictures

Penelope: Watching Roma I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing job that Netflix and Alfonso Cuaron did. He is an amazing director, but this movie being released on Netflix beforehand was a surprise. It’s really showing a change in the way that cinema is made nowadays. The era of blockbusters in theatres is being replaced by streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, continuously releasing new movies that are acclaimed by audience and critics alike or that spark a conversation on social media. In 2018 alone, Netflix released 181 dramatic movies, including some of the most acclaimed motion pictures of the year, Roma being one of them.

Shivani: Also the fact that the movie is in Spanish has managed to earn Roma a spot in the Best Foreign Language category, something that doesn’t happen very often. It is Cuaron’s personal story that he managed to bring to the big screen and the mental toll it must have taken to recall all those memories deserves to be commended. It completely deserves every nomination it received. As for Netflix, it has consistently proved that it can churn out good original content, both in movies (To All The Boys I Loved Before, Birdbox) and shows (Stranger Things, One Day At a Time) not just for its streaming service, but also for the big screen. And Roma is just another example of the same.

Credit: Variety

Alex: Netflix and other streaming services have been knocking at the door of the main awards for over a year now, and I’m not surprised that they have finally released a film that has resonated with the Academy voters. With ten nominations, Roma simply proves that streaming services and Netflix in particular are serious contenders against the studios that have dominated these awards. If Roma gets less than three wins, I’ll be shocked. Of course, Netflix has other films in the nominations, and personally I feel that The Ballad of Buster Scruggs deserves at least one, but it probably won’t win, so Netflix award hopes land on the shoulders of Roma, and I think it will do well.

Onto the big categories: Deserved or undeserved + the amount of music-related nominations

Alex: Frankly, the nominations received in the main categories by A Star is Born are not that deserved. It’s a rehash of something that has been made three, maybe four times before this, and there is nothing particularly original about this adaptation that makes it worthy of recognition. Lady Gaga, whilst probably on the way to the Oscar win for Shallow, is not deserving of the Best Actress nomination, and I’ll be just as annoyed if the film wins Best Picture as I will be if Black Panther wins it. I’m not saying Black Panther wasn’t a good film, I think Marvel films are some of the most entertaining, but it is not deserving of a Best Picture nomination. To me, it feels as if it has been nominated simply because it was popular. It doesn’t fit the usual mold of Oscar films, and it seems to be only a bone thrown to the movie going masses that the Academy is listening. I think there were probably better films that have a better chance of winning that could have taken its spot. Onto the music-related films, and I think that Rami Malek’s performance in Bohemian Rhapsody will earn him a win in Best Actor. I think we are simply seeing musical films because of the box office and awards success of La La Land, and this will probably be the last year with a lot of musical films as people start getting frustrated with the number of them.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Penelope: I have expressed my opinion on the current Best Picture nominees multiple times on Rebel. I agree with the points that Alex has brought up. A Star is Born is an unoriginal idea that was made to bring in easy cash through the use of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. If we had to, the fact that Hollywood is also riding on the wave of musicals, this is the perfect recipe for a box office smasher. Along with A Star is Born we see Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther. I personally strongly disliked both movies for different reasons. I understand how they can be enjoyed, the first being a story of a band/person so loved by the masses and the second being a groundbreaking Marvel movie with a 99% African or African-American cast. But if we look story, directing and acting wise, the nominations that these two movies received, and A Star Is Born have received are undeserved. As for deserved nominations, all the other movies nominated for best picture have some reason to be there. I’m still a little skeptical about Green Book but at the end of the day, it tells a beautiful story that deserves to be told and acknowledged. For the best acting categories, I just don’t think Lady Gaga deserved that nod for Best Actress and I will be shocked if she does win. Olivia Colman did a much greater job than her as Queen Anne in The Favourite and truly deserves that award.

Credit: Vox

Shivani: To be completely frank, musicals are just glorified Bollywood movies and you can’t change my mind, which is why I get annoyed every time a musical gets nominated, so I agree with both Alex and Penelope. In my opinion, the only reason La La Land got so many nods last year was because it celebrated the entertainment industry and everything that Hollywood represents. The movie, at least in my opinion, wasn’t all that amazing. Same with A Star Is Born – good movie, good acting, but mostly forgettable. Gaga gave a great performance for a first-timer, though. But I will say that Bohemian Rhapsody was an incredible movie, and Rami Malek deserves his nomination. The movie has had its fair share of controversies, but I think it was a good enough movie to end up on the Academy’s radar. As for the other contenders, the Oscars did a decent job at diversity (if we ignore the snubbing of Crazy Rich Asians). I would say Boy Erased deserved at least a Best Picture nod though. It was about the very relevant problem of conversion therapy in America and in my opinion, at least deserved some acknowledgement from the Academy. And while I understand why people may have reservations about Black Panther, given that it is a superhero movie, at the end of the day, it was a surprisingly nuanced movie, with an important message and had a culturally groundbreaking impact on the world. It might not deserve to win, but it definitely deserved the 7 nominations it got.