Even before 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign, it was clear that the Oscars represents a specific kind of movie to a certain type of viewer. While this should definitely impact popular opinion of the Oscars as THE authority on which films are and aren’t the ‘best,’ I think it’s still worth talking about, if only because so many people will watch the upcoming awards show and a large majority of them will have an opinion at least slightly impacted by it. So that’s what this new series of posts will be about: my reactions to the recently-announced Oscar nominations, anyone I feel was snubbed etc. Each week will be a different category, starting with Best Picture!
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
I was really happy to see that Drive My Car and Nightmare Alley managed to make their way onto this list. Well-deserved is an understatement. Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car was my #1 pick for last year, and Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley wasn’t too far behind at #3. Nightmare Alley was also my stream of the week last week! I hope either of these wins, both are powerful narratives that couldn’t have come at a more relevant time. But these other nominees? Let’s look at a few.
- Power of the Dog. I actually wouldn’t be completely upset if this film managed to take Best Cinematography, but Best Picture? This is an all-around strange choice. The ending was a bit ridiculous, and I found a lot of the ‘tension’ to be really un-earned. Definitely one of the best-shot movies of last year, but absolutely not the best movie.
- West Side Story. If you ask me, this isn't even worth a watch. Kind of shocking it got remade, let alone nominated, but it's just another instance where the Academy failed to read the room. The very fact that it required so many consultants/experts etc. to make sure the racism in the original didn't drag over into this remake is itself a problem. I was going to write a longer critique but don't want to give it too much space on this blog. Here's a good takedown. I would have preferred Tatiana Huezo’s Prayers for the Stolen to have taken this spot. We should celebrate films BY Latinos instead of these reductive, harmful depictions of Latinos.
- Dune. As much as I loved this movie, and I LOVED this movie, and even if Denis Villenueve is the best living director for sci-fi epics, Dune simply did not belong here. ‘Desert Power’ will never be a good line, and some of the Zendaya shots looked like a perfume commercial. If we’re talking sci-fi/fantasy movies of 2021, we gotta talk about The Green Knight. Not so much as a mention for any categories, even in areas where it shined among the brightest like VFX and Cinematography. I can’t wrap my mind around the level of snub!