This post is probably a week late, but I didn’t think to write about the Oscar nominations until recently. I know that my personal tastes are not in line with the Oscar’s intended audience, but I’ve seen the majority of the films in most of the major categories and can do my best to look through the lens of a traditional Oscar viewer.
While I was genuinely surprised by a snub from picture and director (more about that below), I was extremely happy to see Room make both of those categories. The emotional ride that it took me on was one of the best of the year, and I enjoyed it making some major categories. I especially think it serves as an important contrast to the emotionally hallow experience that was The Revenant which walked away with an excessive 12 nominations.
Most of the other major categories played out as I expected given the target audience, but I’ve found in recent years that when looking at some of the minor categories, the real gems come through. For animated film, I was happy to see Anomalisa and When Marnie Was There sharing time with Inside Out (I’ve heard that Boy and The World is also impressive, but I haven’t had a chance to view it yet). The best foreign feature delivered like it does most years with a stellar class that could be the best picture race in a more honest evaluation of quality. The academy has the chance to right the wrong from two years ago when they didn’t give Joshua Oppenheimer the Oscar for The Act of Killing by awarding its equally important companion piece The Look of Silence. But of all of the awards, the one that I got audibly excited for was The World of Tomorrow getting a nomination for best animated short. I maintain that it is the best piece of cinema of last year, and cannot recommend it enough (by the way it’s on Netflix, anyone who reads this should totally watch it)
With the good though comes the bad, and it unfortunately comes as no surprise that women driven and directed films were relegated almost entirely to just the best actress categories. The female driven Carol was assumed to be a serious contender, but was ignored for the best picture and director awards. The Diary of a Teenage Girl was the only English female directed film that had awards potential, but it was completely shut out of the nominations including the unacceptable but unsurprising snub of Bel Powley for lead actress. At least Deniz Gamze Ergüven got recognition for her film Mustang as the only female directed narrative feature to receive any acknowledgement.
The lack of respect towards female driven and created films can’t be fixed just by changing the academy voters. While I genuinely believe that a diversification of voters would have extended the major awards to Carol, and more recognition to The Diary of a Teenage Girl, these small additions still would only represent tokenism, not equality. In order for women to receive an equal standing in the world of film, we need to be given an equal opportunity to be involved as the creative heads of films. That’s why I’ve started my Friday series of watching films directed by women. We need to prove that the market exists for women created film.