Mixed Reactions Trail Oscars 2020 Nominations

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Vanessa Obioha

Since actors John Cho and Issa Rae announced the nominees for the 2020 Academy Awards last Monday, there’s been an avalanche of comments by Hollywood critics and the media.

On one hand, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body responsible for the awards was praised for diversity such as the nomination of the South Korean movie Parasite directed by Bong Joon-Ho for Best Picture.

On the other hand, they were pilloried for their choice of nominees, particularly ‘Joker’ which had the highest number of nominations. Right from the time of its release, the joint production of Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films was criticised by film critics, so to have it as the awards frontrunner irked quite a number of people.

Matthew Rozsa of Salon argued that the film “does not deserve to be the most nominated superhero film in the history of the Academy Awards. The problem? ‘Joker’ isn’t a good movie. Even worse, there are plenty of films from 2019 that are far better in the areas where ‘Joker’ claims to be good.”

‘Joker’ fetched nominations in Best Picture, Best Directing for Todd Phillips, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, Best Original Music Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

As much as the Academy was praised for diversity, they were also pummeled for the poor representation of women. Although, the body said a record 62 women were nominated this year — almost a third of all nominees — critics find their omission of notable Hollywood female personalities almost unforgivable. The omission of Greta Gerwig, the director of the critically praised film ‘Little Women’ in the race for Best Director is perceived as a lack of diversity. No female director was nominated this year.

The non nomination of Jennifer Lopez and Lupita Nyong’o who played outstanding performances in the movies ‘Hustlers’ and ‘Us’ respectively is also seen as a disregard for women of colour. In addition, the obvious snub of movies such as Adam Sandler’s ‘Uncut Gems’ and ‘Dolemite is My Name’ for costume designer Ruth Carter further irked critics.

To this end, Gene Seymour of CNN called this year’s nominations a joke. “The 2020 Academy Awards nominations honour the gloomiest, most despair-ridden slate of films I’ve seen since the 1970s, when movies in general were better than they are now.”

Some of the notable nominations include Netflix films ‘The Irishman’ and ‘Marriage Story’ which clinched 10 and six nominations respectively; Sam Menses film ‘1917’ which had 10 nominations, Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ which also fetched 10 nominations and Disney’s Ford vs Ferrari’ with four nods.

The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on February 9, at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.