Let others bemoan who’s missing from this year’s roster of Academy Award nominees. I prefer to focus on the positive: Greta Gerwig’s beautiful rendering of Little Women earned six major nominations including Best Picture, even though the director’s branch didn’t vote for her. (The screenwriters did.) And South Korea’s Parasite made Oscar history by earning six nominations including Best Picture—a first—as well as Best Screenplay and Best Director. And although I didn’t care for it, Joker goes in the record books with eleven nods for what is officially (if not tonally) a comic book movie.
The Academy, with its membership significantly expanded by 2,000 new recruits from the international film community—including more women than ever before—can no longer be accused of being a Hollywood monolith. That doesn’t guarantee a sea change in the results of nominating ballots, but it does make it more difficult to point fingers at the institution.
I’m encouraged that box-office numbers still don’t translate to the merit-based nominations. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been properly recognized for its Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and John Williams’s majestic score, while the Animated Feature category includes such dark horses as Jeremy Clapin’s I Lost my Body and Laika studios’ underrated Missing Link, shutting out Disney’s Frozen II.
And although little discussed, one of my favorite films of the year, The Two Popes, has come through with nominations for its two superb stars, Jonathan Pryce (as Best Actor) and Anthony Hopkins (as Best Supporting Actor), as well as Anthony McCarten (for Best Adapted Screenplay).
I leave it to other pundits to debate whether or not diehard industryites will support Netflix movies like The Irishman, Marriage Story, I Lost my Hand, or documentary American Factory. Those same film industry people bestowed nominations on all of them, which is hardly akin to shutting out the so-called disruptor that financed and/or acquired these exceptional films.
And as for so-called snubs (my least favorite word every awards season) I still maintain that no Academy branch has a mass meeting where all its members conspire to exclude anyone. If an individual or achievement didn’t earn enough votes to make the final cut, that’s the way the cards were dealt.