by Tori DiPasquale

The Academy Awards are often a site for social and political debate. Recall: the slap, the wrongful win of “La La Land,” “Parasite” winning best picture (angering then-President Trump) and, going way back, like Sacheen Littlefeather accepting the best actor award on Marlon Brando’s behalf. All of these occasions are both memorable and famous events in pop culture. This year’s Oscars, although they are still weeks away, have already garnered significant controversy just over the nomination announcements. In my opinion, this controversy is completely unwarranted and distracts from the many historic nominations that happened this year. 

When the nominations were announced, I was ecstatic. Seeing Lily Gladstone, Sandra Hüller, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Hayao Miyazaki being recognized for their work this year was particularly surprising and exciting to me. Of course, like every year, there were a few snubs that I was upset about. The cast of “May December” being left out was a shock, as well as “Killers of the Flower Moon” failing to be recognized for screenplay. However, I didn’t dwell on these points, as, all things considered, I was quite satisfied with the list this year.  

Then I went online. It seemed the entire world was crying for “Barbie,” a film which received 8 nominations, and more specifically Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie. These women were not nominated for their respective directing and acting roles in the film, but they are currently still both nominated for writing and producing respectively. The consensus online was that they were snubbed and deserved to be nominated as director and actress above those that were. Say what you will about the current state of the nominations, but it is not guaranteed that you will be rewarded for your film, no matter how popular. 

“Barbie” was certainly amazing, breaking box office records worldwide, which is incredible! But, that achievement has been celebrated all year, and I don’t think anyone will be forgetting “Barbie” anytime soon. This very fact is what makes the outcry over the Oscars so unwarranted. Why are we so concerned about rewarding a billion-dollar movie? Why are we not satisfied with the eight nominations it did receive? I know that Robbie and Gerwig were the two most important factors in the film’s creation, but they themselves have been rewarded for that! Just because it’s not in the categories that may seem most obvious does not mean they aren’t being celebrated for their creation.  

It’s easy to say that the Academy is evil for nominating Ryan Gosling in acting and not Robbie, but it’s also worth remembering that America Ferrera is nominated for her role in the film (and Margot has been nominated for an acting Oscar. Twice!). This year is also historic for female nominations in multiple categories: Lily Gladstone is the first Indigenous woman from the United States to be nominated for best actress while a historic three out of the 10 movies nominated for best picture were directed by women (“Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie” and “Past Lives”). It is fair to point out the hypocrisy and discrimination that we see evident in the film industry and its awards shows, but this should not overshadow the groundbreaking artists that are being recognized. And they certainly should not be ignored because of two women who received nominations. In every interview I’ve seen with the nominees, they have been asked to comment on the “Barbie” snubs. I find this completely disrespectful and ridiculous. Why should these people who have just been honored in an incredibly significant way in their industry be forced to turn their focus to pitying two women who are currently up for Oscars themselves? I find the discourse generally tiring, and it also distracts from some of the brilliant artists of the year. Sandra Hüller stars in two best picture nominees! Miyazaki has a chance at an Oscar! Paul Giamatti could win for best actor! These are all things worth celebrating, and I don’t really understand why we are not celebrating these milestones at the expense of the fourteenth highest grossing global film of all time not being awarded in the way you wanted it to. It’s upsetting to see how many people are hyper-focusing on this aspect of the nominations and films, when, in my opinion, this is one of the greatest lineups of films we’ve seen in years.