ScarJo and Joker cast shadows over the hope for new faces
On the morning after a Critics Choice Movie Awards ceremony that heavily paralleled the Golden Globes—“Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood” won best picture, Joaquin Phoenix won best actor, Renèe Zellweger best actress, Brad Pitt best supporting actor, Laura Dern best supporting actress, etc., the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences released their nominations for the 92nd Oscars, the pinnacle of the awards season that will take place in early February as per tradition at the famed Dolby Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Oscar Nominations for 2020 offer the usual suspects in most categories. Like the Critics Choice Awards’ Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Golden Globes’ Foreign Hollywood Press, the Academy is big on yesteryear’s work from Tarantino, Mendez, and Scorsese. Likewise, they favor performances from Phoenix, Pitt, and Zellweger.
That being said, there are still a few head turners on this year’s nomination list, from the names included, to the names left out, to the handful of names that dominated.
First off, it should really be no surprise at this point in the awards season that Netflix got a lot of love for its 2019 filmography.
The Academy nominated both Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” for best picture and Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes” appeared in several categories as well.
This bodes well for the streaming service that clearly spent the year trying to produce and promote prestigious original content.
If one film dominated the list, however, it was Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” which garnered eleven nominations including best picture, best director, and best actor.
This is significant as not every year does a movie based on a comic book character lead the race, especially not when that comic book character is a controversy-inducing villain brought to the screen by the director of “The Hangover.”
Nevertheless, “Joker” stood out amongst the competition. In terms of noms, the film was narrowly followed by “The Irishman,” “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood,” and “1917,” all fellow best picture contenders that received ten nominations each.
Moreover, while there weren’t really any surprises on the best actor or best actress fronts, Scarlett Johansson managed to snag both best actress and best supporting actress nominations for her respective roles in “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit.”
Snubs and Overlooked Talent that was Coincidentally Diverse Abounded
Adam Sandler went unsung for his groundbreaking performance in “Uncut Gems,” and critic favorites Awkwafina from “The Farewell” and Jennifer Lopez from “Hustlers” were similarly snubbed, not receiving any accolades from the Academy despite earning praise elsewhere.
This brings us to the biggest elephant in the room, which has been a persistent topic for the past few Academy Awards—how diverse are this year’s nominees?
The noticeably whitewashed 2016 Oscars sparked this long overdue conversation about diversity in the Awards. Since then, the Academy has been seemingly more inclusive, nominating and honoring racially-charged films like “Moonlight,” “Get Out,” “BlackKklansman,” and, “Black Panther”, feminist features like “Lady Bird” and “Roma,” and queer narratives like “Call Me By Your Name” and “The Favourite.”
This year, however, despite all of the progress over the past couple of several telecasts, the Academy seems to have relapsed into yet another celebration of a white male dominated Hollywood. The only big 2020 nominees that deviate from this norm are Greta Gerwig’s female-centric “Little Women” and Bong Joon-ho’s Korean “Parasite.”
Both of these films were nominated for best picture and Bong Joon-ho was nominated for best director.
The rest of the nominations in these categories are filled with the work of white men. Characteristically, the films are overwhelmingly white as well—from the Western European World War I narrative in “1917,” to the Nazi-Germany satire in “Jojo Rabbit” to a movie literally titled “The Irishman,” there is not a whole lot of diversity going on.
Likewise, many of these movies also sideline female characters to subordinate roles such as wives, mothers, and girlfriends to the male leads.
While these skewed nominations may be mere products of their not being as many women or minority filmmakers in the industry, that very underrepresentation is a testimony to Hollywood’s systemic gender and racial inequality both in front of and behind the camera.
Thus, when the red carpet rolls out on February 9th, we can expect to see a lot of talent on it, but probably not as much color as we’d prefer.
Following the success of last year’s hostless ceremony, the Academy also recently announced that the event will again not have a host. Hence, there will be no central figure on stage to comically quell (or egregiously highlight) the Academy’s systematic issues regarding representation.
Still, if the Golden Globes were any indicator, we will probably still hear a lot of social commentary through the acceptance speeches.
In total, the Academy has taken a big step back this year, not showing the level of diversity that the public might desire or expect.
However, the Academy Awards are only the opinions of a handful of aged industry professionals. Just because they don’t recognize certain talent does not mean that there won’t be eventual recognition, at the latest once the demographics change in the voting block (cold comfort till then).
Academy Awards, Oscars, Joker, Scarlett Johansson, Whitewashed Hollywood, Netflix, Bong Joon-ho, Todd Phillips, Awkwafina, Jennifer Lopez, Movie,