Another year, another mixed bag of Oscar nominations. The Academy Awards continue to be a very local awards ceremony, rarely branching out beyond the typical fanfare. There have been some efforts to widen the scope of nominated pictures, particularly to acknowledge foreign films in categories outside the norm, but none hold any genuine chance of winning gold unfortunately. Overall, the ceremony remains a self-gratification of Hollywood.
So, who dominated the nominations? The Power of the Dog leads the nominations, illustrating a huge win for both Jane Campion (the only woman ever nominated twice for best director) and for Netflix. No longer a pariah in Hollywood, the streamer has proven itself as a genuine awards juggernaut in the past few years with Marriage Story, Roma, The Irishman and Mank all receiving an abundance of nominations in previous years. Having already been nominated for Best Director back in 1993 for The Piano, this second nomination makes Campion the only woman ever nominated for Best Director twice; she could very well take the statue on the night.
We can easily divide the rest of the nominations into three categories: pleasant surprises, regular heavyweights and glaring omissions.
This category includes Dune and West Side Story. Both big budget studio affairs which were simultaneously critically acclaimed and popular with the general public. This is particularly great for Dune, a truly massive, intellectual science-fiction epic, as it gives something unique and different acknowledgment at the ceremony for once (even if Denis Villeneuve was shunned from a Best Director nomination).
The Academy seems to be recognising that great films are not only made in Hollywood
The other big surprise is something I am calling the ‘Parasite’ effect: foreign language films breaking through the confines of the ‘International Feature’ category and being nominated in multiple fields. Japan’s Drive my Car and Norway’s The Worst Person in the World both broke this mould with the former nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Worst Person in the World reinvents the whole finding yourself, rom-com, character struggling with their direction in life trope so if there was any justice in the world it would win ‘Best Original Screenplay’, but we’ll just have to wait in hope. Slowly but surely the Academy seems to be recognising that great films are not only made in Hollywood, or in the Western world for that matter.
Kristen Stewart was the big acting surprise for me. Rising above all odds, climbing back from the deepest, darkest depths of Twilight to Spencer, marking the films sole nomination. The strength of her bizarre, idiosyncratic, avant-garde performance is truly a momentous achievement for the actress, and never falls into a caricature of Diana. Will she win? I think the odds are stacked against her, but oh it would be glorious.
Next up are the regular heavyweights whose names seem to crop up every year, your Denzel Washington’s, Olivia Coleman’s and Judi Dench’s. The classic screen titans who are consistently great. But the question has to be asked: should their spots be given to fresh talent? What about the breathless, breezy debut performances of Alana Haim or Cooper Hoffman in Licorice Pizza? Or what about the triple threats of Mike Faist and David Alvarez in West Side Story? They sing, they dance, and they act, breathing new life into a fifty-year-old musical. Stop nominating previous winners and anoint new talent. The barrier still remains of nominating performances in a language that isn’t English. For the love of all things holy, why wasn’t Renate Reinsve nominated for The Worst Person in the World? She straddles the line between comedy and drama perfectly, but since she delivers her lines in Norwegian, she is shunned.
Stop nominating previous winners and anoint new talent
The most glaring omission? That award goes to Lady Gaga for House of Gucci. She lathered on the makeup and wigs, supposedly stayed in character for months and gave the role her best 1970s Italian accent yet didn’t secure a nomination. House of Gucci was far from a perfect movie. How could a true crime murder drama starring Adam Driver, Lady Gaga and Al Pacino be labelled as boring and dull? All one has to do is look at Jared Leto doing his best Super Mario impression and the film’s lack of nominations becomes understandable.
And that’s this year’s Oscar nominations in a nutshell: the usual material, some genuinely good decisions and finally some real headscratchers. Progress and change is happening, especially in terms of the votership which is shaping the nominations, leading to greater representation in certain categories. However, this change is occurring at a snail’s pace, for every year we have a ‘Parasite’, we have a ‘Green Book’. So, who are your odds-on favourites? Do you think Lady Gaga was snubbed? Do you ever care who wins?
The Academy Awards will be held on the 28th March 2022.
In article video courtesy of theacademy via instagram.com. No changes made to this video.
In article image 1 courtesy of spencer_movie via instagram.com. No changes made to this image.
In article image 2 courtesy of houseofguccimovie via instagram.com. No changes made to this image.
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