Reel Talk: The Academy let me down

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Jillian Leiby, JagWire opinions editor

The Oscar nominations came out this morning, I know because I was listening to it as I was driving to school. Most years, there are hundreds of amazing movies that go unnoticed by the Academy. It’s nothing new. When this year’s nominations were announced this morning, however, I actually was shocked by the amount of fantastic films that went unnoticed, or “snubbed,” if you will.

The best picture category, which allows for up to 10 nominees, went with eight films this year. Because of this, critical darlings like “Carol” were surprisingly left out the race. While “Mad Max: Fury Road” got a much deserved nod, other critically acclaimed action movies, like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or “Creed,” were left out. The decision to not have a set number of best picture nominees allows for the inclusion of films that are both critically and commercially successful, but it seems the Academy has tried to distance itself from those kind of movies. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was lucky in that way. It’s frustrating, and a problem that could’ve been easily avoidable with a few more nominees this year.

That being said, I was happy to see character-driven dramas like “Brooklyn” and “Room” squeeze into the category. Why the Academy felt that “The Martian” was a better movie than “Carol,” though, is beyond my psychic capabilities.

I’m not a huge Ridley Scott fan. He tends to be sexist and racist, and seems to have an overall bad attitude. His snub in the best director category is surprising, though, and something many will talk about for a while. He won the Golden Globe for best director, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Academy to not even nominate him. It’s not a huge deal to me, and I think that Adam McKay and Lenny Abrahamson (the surprise nominees) are more deserving for “The Big Short” and “Room,” respectively. This also gives fellow veteran director George Miller to take home a surprise win for “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

All the acting categories are filled with white actors, but considering the award circuit this year, it was nothing new. I still don’t think Bryan Cranston (in “Trumbo”), Jennifer Lawrence (in “Joy”), and Mark Ruffalo (in “Spotlight”) had that great of performances. I felt that Michael B. Jordan did an amazing job in “Creed,” but others found Will Smith great in “Concussion.” “Straight Outta Compton” was another well-made film with great performances by actors of color, but it only received one nomination for best original screenplay.

Still, we shouldn’t be finding people of color to nominate in order to fill a quota. There were amazing performances by men and women of color this year, but the Academy seems content with acknowledging the same people every year, even if their performances aren’t that good. “Joy” was not well-received by critics, but because Lawrence is everyone’s best friend, she gets a nomination every year for films that aren’t that great.

I don’t know. Predicting nominations and winners for award shows doesn’t fix the problem (especially when I predict all white people myself). All I know is that last year, The Academy had their president (who is a woman of color) and “Selma” to fall back on. Now they have nothing. Here’s hoping for change in the new year.

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