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For nearly 92 years, the Academy Awards, or “Oscars” has been a decorated platform, celebrating film. The Oscars are the most prestigious awards in film, highlighting acclaimed performances, screenplays, directing, soundtrack, costume design, special effects, etc. From best-adapted screenplay, cinematography to costume design, Todd Phillip’s Joker has racked the most nominations of 2020. Many notable films are nominated, including Hollywood mastermind Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, much celebrated Martin Scorsese’s Irishman, Greta Gerwing’s re-adaptation of Little Women, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, Bong Joon Ho‘s Parasite, among many more. Actors such as Adam Driver, Joe Pesci, Joaquin Phoenix, and Al Pacino are destined to receive a win. Many outstanding performances by actresses such as Florence Pugh and talented Saoirse Ronan in Little Women, Renee Zellweger in Judy, Laura Dern in Marriage Story have been met with high praise.
“Parasite is my front runner to win. From the cinematography to the soundtrack to the acting, this film is a masterpiece in every level. It sets a standard for film making that not many can accomplish. It is original and deals with current issues in Korea and around the world, but in a way that keeps the audience engaged.“ said senior Thanusika Srirakulan
Political Unrest at the Oscars
Often, critically acclaimed films tackle hard pressing topics. These films offer a perspective for audiences everywhere to understand certain hardships individuals face. With this, of course, comes a time for people in the industry to voice their opinions. The 2018 Critics Choice and Golden Globes was the genesis of Times Up, a movement fighting sexual assault in the film industry after allegations arose over notorious and now-disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein. After the victims of Weinstein’s abuse stepped forward, many notable actors and actresses did as well. Thus, Times Up and many other social movements were born. At the 2018 Oscars, many showed their support by wearing Times Up pins and speaking about this issue throughout the event. Another example of the film industry highlighting an epidemic is Leonardo DiCaprio speaking about growing environmental concerns. DiCaprio won in 2016 for the best actor in a leading category for his brilliant performance in The Revenant. Upon production of the film, DiCaprio followed along National Geographic filming an eco-documentary, Before the Flood. After accepting his award, DiCaprio gave a powerful and moving speech on witnessing climate change and how everyone must fight to combat this global issue. More celebrity activists have joined in on this bandwagon and often petition these injustices at events as such.
The Under Shadowed Performances
Every award nomination comes with an arguably fair share of snubbed performances. Of course, the Academy is no stranger to this. Each year the released nomination list is released, it sparks outrage at deserving nominations. Rocketman, starring the exceptionally talented Taron Edgerton, was high on the list for snubs, considering his winning best actor at the Golden Globes. In this biopic, Edgerton transforms himself into the flamboyant persona of Elton John.
“[Rocketman] is probably one of my favorites. I think the lead did a great job of getting John’s character down,” said Senior Caroline Smith.
Moreover, The Farewell did not rack a single nomination this year, despite high praise and expectations, post-Awkwafina’s Golden Globes win. Her breathtaking performance and shift of her traditional comedic genre gave her quite a standing ovation from critics. Furthermore, Lupita Nyong’o in Jordan Peele‘s, Us, was described by many as the most acclaimed performance in years. Nyongo, one of the most talented actresses of this generation, gave an earth-shattering, yet inexplicable performance. However, it is no surprise, as the Academy makes it evidently clear of their bias in horror films.
“I think the Gentleman should have been nominated for the best motion picture. It was the perfect combination of great acting and directing. It was the right amount of comedy and action,” explained senior Samantha Sanville.
Inclusivity and the Broken International Film Category
Last week, BAFTA, the UK’s most prestigious film awards, was met with criticism over a lack of racial diversity after every shortlisted actor or actress nominated is white. It comes to no surprise of the outrage as many dub the industry as “white Hollywood.” Although the film industry is heavily whitewashed, many actors and actresses of color such as Daniel Kaluuya, Rami Malek, Lupita Nyongo, and more have begun to bridge this disparity. The Oscar nominations also spotlighted the “white effect” in filmmaking and the constant persistence of structural racism.
“Clearly everybody knows that everybody in the four acting groups of nominees is white, it’s infuriating, we can’t make the industry do something. All we can do is encourage and push and inspire and try to help people coming in at the bottom end,” voiced Marc Samuelson, the chairman of BAFTA’s film committee.
Another problem surrounding inclusivity is in the international film category. The category has its limitations, as only one movie from each country can be chosen. Many criticize the Academy for not recognizing the achievements of many worthy films beyond America’s borders. Aside from the limitations, there are strict standards each production set needs to adhere to in order to be even considered for entry.