Tara McCamley examines this year’s Oscar nominations and what to expect from the ceremony in the midst of an already politically charged awards season
From the blacked out red carpet at the Golden Globes, to the rise of the #METOO movement, to the Screen Actors Guild Awards who chose Kirsten Bell to become the first ever host in the ceremony’s 23-year history – to say the least, this year’s awards season has been one strongly charged with political action.
The precedent set by the most recent awards ceremonies leaves a large question mark looming over what is the last and biggest show on the circuit, the Academy Awards. Out of all the awards ceremonies, the Oscars has been the one that has faced the most public backlash over what has been considered to be its more traditional and conservative approach to how they conduct their ceremony and the people they choose to recognise within the industry.
While the Globes’ ceremony itself was a great representation of the current political climate, it seems the Academy has done a fantastic job in recognising those that the Globes failed. Both Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig made the cut for the Best Director nomination after being left off of the Globe’s award roster. Gerwig becomes the first female nomination in the category since Catherine Bigalow’s win for The Hurt Locker in 2010.
This year’s nominees also boast the first woman to ever be nominated in the cinematography category where Rachel Morrison is nominated for her work on the film Mudbound. Mary J Blige also makes history with her Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song nominations making her the first person to be both nominated for best song and in an acting category in the same year.
Aside from individual nominees the amount of diversity seen within the films nominated this year and the stories they tell is a far cry from the traditional ‘Oscarbait’ films we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the past decades. That isn’t to say these films have faded into obscurity, they exist in a strong sense still with films like Dunkirk, The Darkest Hour and The Post boasting a more traditionally Oscar voter friendly narrative. Those however aren’t the films that are being the most talked about.
Unconventional love stories lead the narrative pack with tales of gay and interracial romances seen in Call Me by your Name and The Big Sick. The film that leads the race with 13 nominations is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a film which centres around the lovestory between a mute woman and an amphibious creature.
Female led struggles are also key with the front-runner for Best Picture being Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a tale of an aggressive, argumentative woman seeking answers and accountability from the police force for the brutal rape and murder of her daughter. Ladybird too centres around the struggles of a young teen and her mother and their complex, sometimes toxic but loving relationship, a dynamic we have seen before in well received movies but always done with a father-son focus.
“How different and groundbreaking the show will be remains to be seen”
However, the stellar example set by the nominees and the handling of the myriad of issues now facing Hollywood, by both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, must not go unnoticed by the Academy in their preparations for the awards.
Seth Meyers’ opening monologue at the Globes was both funny, cutting and thought provoking. Given that the host of the Oscars this year is Jimmy Kimmel, who has been far from shying away from confronting sensitive and often uncomfortable topics in his nightly monologues, he has a great opportunity to follow this lead and continue the good work done by Meyers.
How different and groundbreaking the show will be remains to be seen and we won’t get any true answers until March 4 when the show airs. Until then we can silently hope for the best and pray that the biggest show in the industry will take advantage of the massive platform for change it has in the same way other shows have done. If, as the nominees suggest, this is a new era, taking Hollywood towards a better, more diverse, more equal world of film, then it is an achievement to be welcomed, but not rested on.