Tuesday, March 9, 2021
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2020 Oscar Nominations: A joke

First and foremost, The Academy Awards do not matter. The merit of a film and the talent of those who made it is in no way dependent on how many statues of naked gold men they get and the ceremony is basically just a place for rich producers to pat themselves on the back.

That being said, let’s talk about the Oscars like they matter.

The nominations for the 2020 awards show have been announced, and in typical fashion, the public’s reaction has been less than celebratory.

The most shocking being that Todd Phillips’ “Joker” has snatched up 11 nominations, more than any other film nominated this year. This has become a divisive decision for an already divisive movie.

Joaquin Phoenix’s nomination for Best Actor as the titular Joker is the film’s only nomination that hasn’t been met with a confused grimace. Phoenix turns in a career highlight in this film, snatching up plenty of awards for his performance already. He’s likely and deservedly going to take an award home on Oscar night.

But what about “Joker”s Best Screenplay, or Todd Phillips’ Best Director nom, or the film’s consideration for the coveted Best Picture award? “Joker” isn’t a bad film, and the fact that it made over 1 billion at the box office shows that it’s certainly a movie people like. It’s not like the film should have been shoved out completely, but to put it above films like “The Irishman” or “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”, two fellow nominees which are vastly better films made by vastly better filmmakers, is baffling and ridiculous. 

Equally baffling and ridiculous but nowhere near as shocking is the Academy’s lack of diversity, yet again.

The Academy began to face severe backlash back in 2015 when only white actors were nominated that year. In the following years, The Academy made some surface level attempts to rectify this, but it’s clear that they’ve forgotten. Only a single person of color has been nominated for acting, that being Cynthia Erivo for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the biopic “Harriet”. 

If Erivo were to win, it would make her the youngest person to win an E.G.O.T. (someone who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony) but this possibility can’t cover up the racial homogeneousness of the nominees. It’s sad when Jennifer Lopez or Awkwafina or the entire cast of “Parasite” get passed over, but Scarlett Johanson can get two nominations.

Similarly, women have been shut out of the Best Director category. Greta Gerwig for “Little Women” and Lula Wang seemed like shoe-ins only for a Y chromosome-dominated list to make the final cut. 

The disappointed sentiment felt by many was succinctly conveyed by actress and nomination announcer Issa Rae, who passive-aggressively quipped “congratulations to those men” after reading the list.

The 2020 Oscars continue to pound nails into the coffin that will soon house the Academy’s legitimacy, but fret not. Say it again. The Oscars are pointless. Regardless of accolades, the movies you like are the movies you like, but if you want to watch the most boring train wreck on television, The Oscars have got you covered on Feb. 9. 

mason.robert.dredge@mail.umkc.edu

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