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And the Oscar Goes to…

Midway through the awards season, nominations for the 94th annual Academy Awards were announced on February 8th with surprises, consternation, and excitement in all categories. Despite low ratings, the Oscars still cause a buzz in the film community, and it looks like it’s going to be an interesting ceremony.   

The catchphrase for the Oscars this year is: “I have no horses in this race!” Unlike most years, most categories have no front runner that is predicted to win. The Power of the Dog leads in the number of most nominations with twelve, followed by Dune with ten and West Side Story with seven. This was accompanied by surprises in each category such as Lady Gaga’s snub for Best Actress for her role in House of Gucci and Denis Villeneuve’s snub in the Best Director category for Dune. Some people will say Spider-man No Way Home was snubbed for Best Picture however in my opinion, its nomination in the VFX category was deserved. Dame Judi Dench’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Belfast over her castmate Caitriona Balfe was definitely a surprise, as well as Kristen Stewart’s nomination for Best Actress for her role in Spencer. Although having no front runner does signify a lacklustre bunch of films in 2022 (last year’s award-sweeping Nomadland was sensational), it also makes for an interesting night with more uncertainty as to who will take home what Oscars.  

Other highlights for the night include Lin Manuel Miranda’s shot at gaining EGOT status with a nomination for Best Original song for ‘Dos Oruguitas’ in Encanto. We can also expect a performance from Beyonce due to her first Oscar nomination with the song ‘Be Alive’ from King Richard.  

Something else to look forward to is Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer as hosts of the ceremony. Ever since the controversy surrounding Kevin Hart’s position of host three years ago, the Oscars have been without a host. Whether these three will be able to make the Oscars funny without stepping on anyone’s toes will have to be determined on the night but whatever the outcome it is sure to be good TV.  

Last year’s ceremony, however, did not make for good TV. In 1970 it was recorded that the Academy Awards had the same ratings as the Super Bowl. However, for the last ten years numbers have been in steady decline with last year’s ceremony at an all-time low. Director Steven Soderberg was hired as producer of the ceremony to try and switch things up and modernize the Oscars. While the idea of making the Oscars feel more like a movie is a strong vision, its execution fell flat. Despite the new arrangement being a flop, it shows that the Academy is willing to radically change things in order to remain relevant which will make for an interesting show this year.

To give the Oscars some merit, I would venture that they are still the most pertinent out of all the entertainment awards and are not completely irrelevant. Leading up to the night of the awards, the Oscars create a buzz around cinema, provoke discussions on the year’s movies, and make people root for their favourite. In a time when superhero films and remakes generate the most revenue in the film industry, the Oscars are also a motivation for artistic and prestigious films to continue to be released.  

The Oscars weren’t the only awards ceremony to suffer with horrendous viewing figures in 2021 and that’s probably due to the pandemic. In light of the world going to shit people just aren’t as interested in the self-important celebrity circus that the Oscars have become.  

In order to survive, the Oscars need to make some big changes, and that starts by asking the question: who and what are the Oscars for? Failure to answer this question has resulted in out of touch host monologues, empty virtue signalling, and cringeworthy moments that have absolutely nothing to do with movies – perhaps that is what the Oscars should get back to.

The 2022 Academy Awards will take place on March 27th.

Image courtesy of Jernej Furman via Flickr.

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