February 29, 2024

Every awards season comes with its fair share of controversies, and this year is no exception. In 2023, the Oscars faced criticism for overlooking women directors, and it appears that not much has changed in 2024. In what can only be described as a tactless decision, the Oscars failed to recognize two powerhouse figures in the film industry: Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie for their work on “Barbie.” Unsurprisingly, fans have erupted in outrage, labelling the Academy as a patriarchal institution. And truth be told, the criticism isn’t unfounded.

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In its 95-year history, the Oscars have only seen three women win the Best Director category—Jane Campion in 2021, Chloé Zhao in 2020, and Kathryn Bigelow in 2009—an absurdly low number. Despite last year’s backlash, the Oscars seemingly made a feeble attempt to address the issue by nominating Justine Triet for “Anatomy of a Fall.” However, when you compare it to Gerwig’s “Barbie,” which not only serves as a societal commentary but also stands as a tentpole event in pop culture, the snub becomes glaringly apparent. “Barbie” not only breathed fresh life into Hollywood with innovative marketing campaigns but also drew audiences away from the typical Marvel fare, making it a significant win.

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This snub, especially considering the movie’s ability to address complex societal issues in a lighthearted manner, appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the contributions of women in the industry. Adding insult to injury, the Academy chose to acknowledge “Oppenheimer,” a film made by a man about a man. The decision to overlook “Barbie” and nominate “Oppenheimer” is perplexing, to say the least.

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The fury reached new heights when Margot Robbie was left out, and instead, Ryan Gosling, who portrayed Ken, secured a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It’s a head-scratcher because there is no Ken without Barbie, a point the movie emphasized so well. Yet, the Academy opted for Gosling over Robbie, adding fuel to the fire of justified criticism.

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Another glaring issue the Academy must confront is the lack of recognition for short comedies. Historically, Best Picture and Best Director have eluded comedies, especially blockbusters. Despite nominations for films like “Juno,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “Tropic Thunder” in various categories, the lack of wins raises the question: Are comedies, particularly blockbusters, not worthy of an Oscar?

While we discuss these matters, it’s crucial to highlight Lily Gladstone’s historic nomination as the first Native American woman for Best Actress at the Oscars. However, even she has spoken out against the glaring lack of diversity and representation. As viewers, we must be vigilant about the awards and their choices. Gerwig and Robbie delivered exceptional performances, yet the Oscars seem oblivious to how to handle a film that resonates with millions. Perhaps, decades from now, they’ll appreciate it, but now, it appears they’ve missed a golden opportunity to showcase real change.