Can the Oscars Appease Hollywood Elitists and the Mainstream Audience?
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again. Hopeful entertainers wait anxiously to maybe hear their name announced as a nominee for the Oscars. Early this morning, Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK) and Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACK-ISH) shared the nominees to the public, and there are some key takeaways to be mindful of as awards season continues.
The reactions for the nominations appear to be greatly mixed. Mainstream movies that did well at the box office like BLACK PANTHER and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER VERSE were represented for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Film respectively. At the same time, more indie-favorites like ROMA and the anti-Republican VICE are represented among contenders creating a perplexing continuity when looking at things as a whole.
Months ago, the Academy announced that it would create a new award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. The response was overwhelmingly negative for the Academy, so they cut the new award from the lineup at this year’s ceremony. Many voices were upset that the Academy was simply creating an award that could potentially downplay the artistic merit of a major blockbuster by separating it from the Best Picture selection. With the pressure to include more popular films among their lineup of nominees, it’s no surprise that BLACK PANTHER received seven nominations, including Best Picture – a first for a superhero comic-book movie. The question is, can the Academy appease both the some of the snobs that constitute their votes, as well as a mainstream audience that typically watches very different movies.
As interested persons sift through the list of nominations, they’ll find that independent movies haven’t lost its place in Hollywood award shows. For instance, Alfonso Cuarón’s far-left, progressive movie ROMA gained nominations for multiple awards including Best Screenplay, Directing, Acting, and Best Picture, which puts it in the same pool as BLACK PANTHER, a movie that is strikingly different in comparison. Additionally, the Dick Chaney slandering movie VICE, from independent studio Annapurna Pictures, will fight for the Best Picture along with GREEN BOOK, a feel-good road-trip about the budding friendship of a rough Italian chauffeur and his African-America boss, Jazz pianist Don Shirley. It’s not uncommon for Best Picture nominees to have varying genres, but this year, the nominations have very little overlap at all. GLAAD has praised the nominees because of multiple nominees that have LGBTQ storylines, specifically THE FAVOURITE and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, and multiple Best Picture nominees are about African-Americans. However, many others angry that no women directors were nominated for Best Director, and Asian filmmakers were completely shut out of the major categories.
This raises a problem with the Academy. As long as a representation of every single group of people remains a priority and political statements trump audience appeal, you’ll further alienate people, including the people you’re attempting to appease. Movies like the Mister Rogers documentary WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR, which empower and inspire all people to love their neighbor better was shockingly snubbed from Best Documentary Feature. Another movie, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE that uplifts the message that anyone can be a hero and anyone can do good in the world received a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, along with INCREDIBLES 2, but it missed out a nomination in the major category of Best Picture. These movies almost unequivocally speak to all people in all walks of life, but that’s not the motivation of the Academy.
There are a few movies that deserve some extra attention. William Dafoe in AT ETERNITY’S GATE which follows the life of Vincent Van Gough gained a nomination for Actor in a Lead Role and RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET also was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Even though many of the movies nominated are either offensive, terribly made, or both, the positive movies that do receive recognition are to be congratulated.
One can’t forget that the campaign process for the Academy Awards is very political, and not just as it relates to the political nature of the nominees. Studios spend millions of dollars to sway Academy votes with fancy parties that have celebrity appearances, advertising scattered all over Los Angles, and nice gifts that are given to voters. There’s a reason they call it campaigning in Hollywood.
Next month, audiences who want to see family-friendly content represented in Hollywood can look forward to the 27th Annual Movieguide® Awards that will air on Hallmark Channel. We guarantee you that there won’t be movies with hard R-rated content in our nominee list. We also guarantee you the show will be acceptable for all ages to watch. For the complete list of nominees that promote uplifting messages in both movies and television, click here.