Nominations for the 96th Oscars Lacked Representation

By Charlie Walters – Correspondent

The Oscar Nominations were announced on January 23rd, with Tár, Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, the Fabelmans, Avatar: the Way of Water, Top Gun Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, All Quiet on the Western Front, Everything Everywhere all at once, and Women Talking nominated for best picture.

There is a significant omission from this year’s lineup that should be addressed. Jordan Peele’s Sci-fi/Horror film Nope was not nominated for any category. Jordan Peele is a critically lauded director, and Nope was highly acclaimed, so its exclusion raises many questions. Mr. Strunin, The Film Directors and Genre teacher says, “Hollywood is still a very white industrial complex” and “Black directors and Actors are underrepresented.”

Even the international feature film category is dominated by white European movies, with Argentina 1985 being the only non-European film nominated. The lack of non-white films in the Oscar selection shows the racism everpresent in Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The predominantly white selection of films can also be attributed to the lack of diversity among Academy members.

A 2022 study held by Statista shows that 81 percent of voters in the academy are white. The first step to combating racism at the Oscars must be to diversify the members of the AMPAS. Only after the academy is diversified can their selections be taken seriously.

Top Gun Maverick and Avatar: the Way of Water are nominated for best picture. Top Gun is also nominated for five other categories, including best adapted screenplay, film editing, sound, and visual effects. and Avatar is nominated for three other categories. Both movies have grossed over a billion dollars, with Top Gun Maverick earning 1.5 billion dollars, and Avatar: the Way of Water earning over 2 billion. Although blockbuster movies like these historically do not win best picture, they are arguably the most popular films in the category.

Thomas Charest, a Sharon High School math teacher and movie-review blogger, says “Top Gun might have saved movie theaters [after covid].” Top Gun and Avatar both brought a large audience to the theaters, especially at a time when everybody is watching movies at home. These two movies may not win best picture, but their nods are at least an attempt to include more mainstream movies in its selection.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is nominated for eleven Oscars: best picture, actress, two for supporting actress, director, supporting actor, original score, original screenplay, costume design, and film editing. Michelle Yeoh made an incredible performance in this movie, technically playing over nine different characters, where she delivered many emotional scenes alongside dramatic action sequences.

While Michelle Yeoh played such a wide range of characters, Cate Blanchett is nominated for best actress for an opposing, similarly stellar performance in Tár as a famous conductor. While Yeoh’s role was at times very surreal, Blanchett’s character is so grounded in real life that many viewers walked out of theaters believing Lydia Tár is a real person. Both actresses are strong contenders for winning the best actress, but it is likely that Cate Blanchett will be favored over Michelle Yeoh. 

Strunin says, “[The acting categories] have been so dominated by the white actor for such a long time, and I don’t see that changing.”

Banshees of Inisherin is nominated for nine categories: best picture, actor, supporting actress, director, two supporting actor nominations, original score, original screenplay, and best film editing. Banshees is an understated, dialogue-heavy movie with a very simple plot. With its four acting nominations and nod for best screenplay, the incredible acting and script are what makes this movie work so well. 

Strunin says he is skeptical of it winning an Oscar. “I really don’t see [Banshees of Inisherin winning] … It’s the kind of movie where people would look at it and think this is too boring,” said Strunin.

Actor Colin Pharrel, though, delivered a strong although understated performance that perfectly complemented the rest of the movie. 

“[Colin Pharell] will do any type of role and make it better … he goes all in anytime he is acting,” said Charest.

Colin Pharell never has an emotional breakdown in this movie. He instead carries the weight of his character’s sadness throughout the entire film— his grief can be seen in every breath Pharell takes and heard in every sentence he speaks. Although the Oscars are looking for a flashy role like Fraser’s to award the best actor title, Pharell undoubtedly gave a remarkable performance In Banshees of Inisherin.

A Statista report shows that the Oscars have steadily lost viewers since 2014, decreasing from 43.7 million views in 2014, to only 10.4 million views in 2021, and 15.36 million views in 2022. Therefore, selecting more popular, blockbuster films like Avatar and Top Gun could be an attempt to raise viewership. If this is the case, quiet movies like Banshees are unlikely to win major categories like Best Picture this year.

All Quiet on the Western Front is the only movie in a foreign language nominated for best picture this year and best adapted screenplay. A foreign film nominated for best picture shows some more diversity in the selections, but All Quiet is still a white, European movie. All Quiet’s nomination is a step forward in the right direction, but there still must be more diversity in the Academy’s selections.

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