the Onion/Twitter

With the complete absence of nominations for any female directors and the fact that 95% of acting nominees for the Oscars this year were white, it’s not exactly unfounded to suggest that the Academy could up their game. It’s true that many great films were rightfully acknowledged this year; but in a year in which Joker, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and 1917 monopolized the nominations,  the amount of incredible films that simultaneously didn’t even receive a single nomination is frankly shocking. So, let’s imagine a world in which some of these films and the people behind them which were completely snubbed by the Academy received the awards recognition they deserved…

Best Picture

Uncut Gems

Uncut gems/twitter

Uncut Gems is unbridled chaos: following Adam Sandler’s jewellery salesman and gambling addict Howard Ratner is a nail-bitingly frustrating yet endlessly entertaining experience. Barely giving the audience a moment to breathe, the Safdie Brothers have flawlessly crafted what essentially feels like a 2 hour panic attack: the stakes grow greater and greater until you feel like the film might shatter under the pressure, and your sanity with it, yet it sticks the landing with one of the best endings to have hit the silver screen in years. Available to stream on Netflix now, this is essential viewing and should be put on the top of your watchlist.

Best Director

Lulu Wang – The Farewell

The Farewell/Twitter

Lulu Wang’s direction in The Farewell feels loving, considerate and truly tugs at the heartstrings. Opening with the disclaimer that it’s “based on an actual lie”, Wang tells the story of her own family’s decision to hide their grandmother’s terminal cancer diagnosis from her and go to China to say a final goodbye to their ‘Nai Nai’. Wang’s own emotion radiates through the screen in The Farewell: her astute direction as well as Zhao Shuzhen’s realistic and endlessly lovable performance very quickly help us fall in love with Nai Nai too. The Farewell will make you laugh, cry and want to call your Nan as soon as the credits roll.

Best Screenplay

Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman – Booksmart

Booksmart/Twitter

Comedy is a genre that is usually unappreciated by the Oscars: Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit was the first win for a comedy screenplay since 2007’s Juno, but I’d argue that Booksmart is just as deserving. A genuinely side-splittingly hilarious coming of age story of two high achieving high-schoolers who finally decide to party hard the day before graduation, Booksmart balances its outrageous comedy with its heart: not only spotlighting just how funny women can be, but holding the importance of female friendship at its core.

Best Actress

Lupita Nyong’o - Us

US/Twitter

Much like the lack of acknowledgement for comedy, horror as a genre is also criminally underappreciated by the Academy. Joining the ranks of Florence Pugh in Midsommar and Toni Colette in Hereditary, Lupita Nyong’o is yet another scream queen shamefully ignored by the Oscars. Starring as both Adelaide Wilson and her ‘Tethered’ doppelgänger Red, Nyong’o’s dual performances in Us, Jordan Peele’s sophomore film, are an absolute tour de force. She acts alongside herself, simultaneously sparking sympathy, intrigue, as well as spine-tingling fear in the audience.

Best Actor

Adam Sandler - Uncut Gems

Uncut gems/Twitter

This may be hard to believe but Adam Sandler, renowned for starring in some of the 21st century’s worst comedies, is utterly sensational in Uncut Gems. Magnetic, complex, hilarious and even at times heart-breaking, his performance is a career-high, arguably even surpassing his role as Barry Egan in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love. Despite how exceptionally infuriating his character’s decisions become, Sandler’s palpable charisma shines and pushes the audience to truly care for this walking nightmare of a man.

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lopez - Hustlers

Hustlers/Instagram

Jennifer Lopez’s performance in Hustlers is honestly staggering. Despite being the supporting figure to the Constance Wu’s protagonist Destiny, J.Lo is arguably the real star of Hustlers: her screen presence is irresistibly alluring, the audience powerless to her charm. More than just by being adorned in copious amounts of fur, Lopez’s Ramona is like a lioness: she’s a devoted matriarch who will do anything for those she loves, but also an authoritative figure who is unafraid to fight fiercely or result to foul-play to get what she wants. Lopez has never been better.

Best Supporting Actor

Shia LaBeouf - Honey Boy

Honey boy/ Twitter

Honey Boy is Shia LaBeouf’s story: he wrote the screenplay, based upon his own life, whilst in rehab as a form of therapy to help him process his childhood. In Honey Boy LaBeouf plays his own abusive alcoholic father, a man jealous and bitter over his son’s fame in comparison to his own failures in life and does so to a chillingly visceral effect. However, LaBeouf does not merely depict his father as a villain: he’s a man aware of his flaws and, at points, even seeks to improve himself. LaBeouf’s performance is raw and nuanced and through it we grow to understand the roots of his own trauma.


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Mountain View

Hollywood’s female director problem

Unfortunately, it is most likely not a coincidence that most of these snubbed films were directed by or had key performances by women and people of colour. It has been 5 years since #OscarsSoWhite and this year’s Oscar nominations are proof that they have still have not made many lasting steps forward in their diversity. The Academy needs to work harder to diversify their membership, remove inactive members and even create a jury system for nominations, ensuring all applicable films are viewed and are thus given a chance in order to really combat this issue. However, bearing in mind the Academy’s history, this seems highly unlikely so we ourselves therefore must try to raise awareness for under-appreciated films such as these, so that lesser heard voices and stories are given a greater chance to break through.

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