3 Things I don’t understand about the 2020 Oscar Nominations

To regular readers of the blog, both of you, don’t worry, this isn’t just going to be me banging on about Joker again. I didn’t like the film, it does bother me that so many people do, but I can see that it probably did deserve most of its eleven nominations and I’m actually pleased to see Hildur Guðnadóttir given a nod for her score. No this isn’t really an opinion piece; I’m genuinely a little confused about a few of the decisions the Academy have collectively made.

First of all, why isn’t The Lion King listed in the category for Best Animated Film? They’ve selected it for Visual Effects but don’t the voters realise that none of what was up on screen was real? It was all created in a computer which makes it exactly as animated as Toy Story 4. People seem to have been confused about this ever since Jar Jar Binks walked on screen using the same film making techniques as Roger Rabbit (and a lot of the same characterisation). It seems that even now audiences seem to think, even those in the industry, that if it looks real it must be real, at least a bit. The camera does lie now folks, shake that old idiom out of your heads.

Secondly, how have 1917 and Little Women not been nominated for Best Editing? This may simply be a case of me not fully understanding the craft but just because 1917 has fewer edits it doesn’t mean that the way it uses editing isn’t fantastic. Invisible mends are the thing in sewing and surgery but not it seems in cinema.

Little Women is great for many reasons, several of which are reflected in the noms, but one of the things it does brilliantly is cutting together different times in the characters’ lives. Yes, that’s in the writing but isn’t it in the editing too? I certainly can’t see what linear films like The Irishman, Joker and Jojo Rabbit get right that Little Women doesn’t.

Finally, how is it that the work of a writer director can be celebrated by Oscar one year but when they follow this with an arguably better film this doesn’t register at all? I’m trying not to enter the debate on diversity (although I wholeheartedly agree that it is a problem) but this does seem to happen with underrepresented groups as if they’ve been recognised once so they/we should be happy. John Williams, by contrast, has just been nominated for the fifty second time.

So yes, Greta Gerwig should be up there for directing but just like Barry Jenkins before him, Jordan Peele has been applauded one year then overlooked. I know genre films don’t register with the Academy but hello? Joker! Us is a superb film and should have got something for its writing, its directing, its music, its sound, its production design and its acting. Lupita Nyong’o should have been nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. They changed the rules on this in 1944 after Barry Fitzgerald was named in both categories for his performance in the Bing Crosby movie Going My Way but Nyong’o is not playing two parts. Or is she? It depends. Is it all metaphor? Oh my God, this film is so good!

I try not to care about this stuff, I think I’m skipping the BAFTAs this year, but I still keep having these thoughts about the Oscars. This I guess is how these award shows retain their relevance; by being a conversation piece.

4 thoughts on “3 Things I don’t understand about the 2020 Oscar Nominations

  1. I haven’t seen Joker. I have no desire to see it. Nothing about it looked appealing to me in any way, shape or form. I have to admit, I had a feeling it was going to get a bunch of nominations because of the way the public has reacted to it and all the buzz around it. I really wonder how much of the nominations and votes are “bought” or lobbied for.

    1. You are clearly absolutely right that a lot of it is about how much money the studios spend courting nominations. That won’t make a difference to films like 1917 though that are big in some categories but not in others.

  2. What really blows my stack (well, in a minor way I guess since this is a “minor” category) is the fact that Apollo 11 got exactly jack-shit for it being absolutely brilliant. I guess CNN doc’s don’t really turn the Academy on. Or, perhaps, they’re just kinda done with the whole space thing since we’ve had a pretty good surge of those in recent years. Still, that really disappointed me. That film is absolutely breathtaking!

    I’m also with you on the Joker stuff. I actually never saw it. But I was pretty much writing it off when the debate about how it frames mental illness and gun violence started becoming a shouting match online, that just took all the fun out of having the movie experience for me. One day I might see it, but I’m not that bothered that I haven’t yet.

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