By Quentin Singer
With the Golden Globes happening just over a month ago, the Oscars are right around the corner: March 4th to be exact. The nominations have been up for the past few weeks, and whether you’re surprised by them or not, it goes without saying that The Academy has listened to past years missteps, particularly with the inclusion of non-white and female nominees. This year we have nominations for films like Get Out, which is not only a horror film in the best picture category, but it’s African-American director Jordan Peele’s first Oscar nod. Famously known for his comedy central show Key and Peele, critics and audiences alike praised Jordan for how brilliant Get Out came to be, especially considering it’s the director’s first feature film. Along with the film itself being nominated, lead actor Daniel Kuluuya earned a lead actor nomination, complimenting the films award bill. Aside from Get Out, Lady Bird’s director finally received an Oscar nomination, which is well deserved considering the lack of female director nominations in years past. Lady Bird has also received so many other nominations from different award shows, and it seemed distasteful not to give the director credit where it was obvious.
Aside from being critical a success, usually most Oscar nominees for best picture tackle some sort of social or political idea, and someimes movies that carry these themes are known as “Oscar-bait” films. This trend begs the question: what makes a film great? Or better yet, what merits ‘should’ a film have to be considered great? There are films throughout every year that make audiences and critics alike cheer, but somehow they don’t receive any nominations. While it does make sense to nominate films of social/political topics, the trend can be too obvious at times which can come across rather dull, and ultimately make great-original story based films feel of lesser importance. That’s not to say a film can’t have both elements within it, but it puts into question what the academy should value as priority: storytelling over political/social themes? A mix of both? Or simply none of the above?
It’s not like the academy also hasn’t recognized story driven films, too. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is tied with the most Academy Awards ever totaling 11 awards. Mad Max: Fury Road is also a more recent film that earned several awards/nominations. Considering the film had a predominantly female cast (especially for an action film), this also shows the Academy’s willingness to include mixed story and social driven films. With mostly political, social, and historical based films up for this year, it’s fair to point out some of the other great films that came out in 2017, ones that aren’t necessarily “Oscar-bait:” Blade Runner: 2049, Logan, The Big Sick just to name a few.
Again, this topic is not to discredit any film that’s been nominated this year or in years past. The purpose of this article is to simply ask why we credit a movie with a nomination, or better yet what traits in a film should we hold as Oscar worthy?