And the Winner Is…

Notable Snubs Highlight 94th Oscar Nominations

Alden Arnold, Staff Writer

The last two years have changed the shape of the film industry in ­­­­­­­­­countless ways; streaming services are now making Oscar-worthy features, attendance for theatrical releases has significantly declined, and many studios are now bringing movies straight to the living room tv. Despite all these challenges, the Oscars award ceremony is still thriving.

I will be honest. When I rushed home from school to check the nominations for this year’s 94th Oscars, I was disappointed. So many of the excellent films I had seen over the last year were either snubbed in categories they deserved or forgotten altogether. One of my favorite films of the year, Spencer, which follows Princess Diana during the Christmas season at the royal family’s winter home in Sandringham, failed to be nominated for many deserving Oscars; Pablo Larrain (director), Claire Mathon (cinematographer), and Johnny Greenwood (composer) did not receive any nominations. Similarly, fantastic films like Pig, The French Dispatch, and The Green Night did not receive any mention from the Academy at all. I was further discouraged at the news that the Oscars would stop airing eight award categories to shorten the current three-hour runtime and make the ceremony more appealing to audiences watching at home. I think that this decision calls into question the legitimacy of the Oscars. Awards ceremonies exist to celebrate artists and their artistic achievements, not to market to and entertain audiences. I would argue that the removal of the eight categories indicates that the Oscars are becoming more of a commercial endeavor than an artistic one.

This year was not a complete misstep, however; The Oscars got many things right, and quite a few hidden gems made the shortlist. The Oscars succeeded in curating a quality, diverse selection of films. Nominees run anywhere from documentaries like Belfast, comedies like Don’t Look Up, musicals like West Side Story, and blockbusters like Dune. I was thrilled to see the number of small independent filmmakers who were nominated this year; Jane Champion’s The Power of the Dog, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, and Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley were all deservedly nominated for quite a few prominent awards.

I was most delighted to see that my personal favorite movie of the year, Drive My Car (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi), was nominated for a few major awards, including best picture and best director. Drive My Car follows the spiritual and emotional journey of a stage director as he grapples with the death of his wife through his theater production. Despite being almost entirely in Japanese and running nearly three hours in length, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film is one of the most emotionally harrowing and profound works of art I have seen. While critical and financial achievements are ultimately meaningless to most artists, the success of Drive My Car gives me hope for the future. With Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite surprise sweep of the 2019 Oscars, foreign-language films are beginning to gain more attention from the American market. I am excited to see more foreign independent filmmakers take center stage and share their work with a wider audience. As Bong Joon Ho said after the 2019 awards ceremony, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”.

The Oscars air on March 27th, so be sure to catch up on your watchlist and tune in to ABC at 5:00 PM PST.