author: shelbi glover | a&c writer
Looking at some of the nominees, and snubs of 2018
Oscars season feels a little like Christmas, sometimes. There’s excitement in the air, hope in our hearts, and the anticipation of receiving something amazing, or rather, your favorite films receiving something amazing. The actual Oscars, however, are a different story entirely; on March 4, 2018, the Academy will make a brilliant event of robbing our favorite films one by one as we are forced to helplessly watch, as they do every year.
This year, in fact, my favorite film wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, despite predictions upon predictions. I, Tonya was unfortunately snubbed in that category, but gave promising nominations to both Margot Robbie (Best Actress) and Allison Janney (Best Supporting Actress). I, Tonya, which chronicles the story of notorious figure skater Tonya Harding, has been in the talks for an Academy Award since the announcement of its release; and, while it has been wildly popular with both critics and audiences, failed to gain another nomination besides Best Editing (which, frankly, is so well-deserved).
Side note: if Allison Janney doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress, it’s rigged.
Jordan Peele’s film debut Get Out, however, picked up some well-deserved nominations, despite the general public’s consensus that the Academy would look over it. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and a Best Actor nomination for its lead, Daniel Kaluuya. While the Academy doesn’t give us pleasant surprises often, this is one of those moments where I can think of it like Christmas. Peele is only the fifth black director to be nominated for Best Director, and would be the first to win.
“It means a lot, it means a lot. You know, I think the reason I put off my dream of directing to possibly never happen is because there was such a limited amount of role models, of black role models, in the field. Spike Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes brothers were all very inspiring. But it was just very clear to me from a young age that they were the exceptions to the rule. So, to be able to possibly be one of the people that a young person of color, or a young outsider, can look up to as a sign that it’s possible, is pretty intense and pretty insane. I feel like we’re in a good time right now, where I feel like black directors are the best directors [laughs] right now. I’m just very proud to be part of this renaissance and this class of amazing outsiders that are getting to use their talent.”
Meanwhile, Guillermo Del Toro’s Shape of Water has swept nearly every category, obtaining nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director, among others. Leading the way with a grand total of 13 nominations, the film about a fish-human romance – yes, you heard me right – has made an effort to rebrand the monster movie genre and its message is clear. Love without limits, love without fear, and love without regrets.
The same message could have been given if the movie had been about, say, gay people, but I’ll let it slide.
Speaking of gay people, Call Me By Your Name is also nominated for Best Picture, but don’t get too excited yet, my fellow queers. The story, although a seemingly positive narrative for gay men, is actually inherently pedophilic. Timothée Chalamet’s character is only 17 at the time of the story, while his love interest (Armie Hammer) is in his late 20s. This, naturally, is problematic, since the LGBT community already has issues with being labelled as pedophilic; not to mention, the message this gives to young individuals struggling with their sexualities.
Director Greta Gerwig is also up for Best Picture for her comedy-drama Lady Bird, which tells the story of a daughter’s turbulent relationship with her mother through her senior year of high school.
Amongst other contenders for Best Picture are Phantom Thread, The Post, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Dunkirk. If you haven’t heard of any of these films, don’t worry – most people haven’t. But this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg for nominations. Films like Star Wars, Blade Runner 2049, and War of the Planet of the Apes also picked up lower level nominations; so, even if you aren’t pumped about Guillermo Del Toro’s fish man porno, you’ll still have some of your blockbuster favorites to look forward to.
All in all, the Oscars just remind us of how wonderful it is to be a filmgoer in this day and age. Despite its problems, despite the controversies, despite the snubs – there are some great, well-deserving films up for awards this year. This year, we are finally seeing narratives told by minorities (Get Out), abuse victims (I, Tonya), women (Lady Bird), and – despite how much I hate the material they chose – even gay narratives (Call Me by Your Name). The Academy has presented us with an amazing, diverse selection of films that mean so much not only to their creators, but to their audience.
Last year, the Academy shocked all of us when a narrative about queer men of color won best picture (Moonlight) over Ryan Gosling’s whitewashed jazz daydream (La La Land). Let’s hope we’re shocked in the same way again; and maybe, just maybe, that Jordan Peele makes cinematic history.