I have a love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards (Oscars (see the Academy of One entries on this blog). More often than not that voting body has to be dragged into the zeitgeist kicking and screaming (see Green Book's Best Picture win). This year's nominees actually represent an intriguing diversity of talent (if they actually nominated 10 films a year rather than their nebulous "between five and ten" ranking bullshit there might have been more.). I'm sure a lot of pundits (myself included) will be thinking of "snubs" and "surprises" by pouring over and dissecting the list of names and films, but we'll all forget that it doesn't matter. Especially as a big group of voters vote for their friends and not actually what they think is best (Casting Directors, Executive, and Public Relations branches you are the absolute fucking bane of existence!).
After this year of fear, doubt, anger, and loss it seems all the more frivolous to quibble over the achievements or merits of pieces of art. Especially as eligibility was extended well into 2021 for this award show celebrating the films of 2020, which helped many potential nominees game the system as they do every December anyway.
It also seems frivolous not to shout in celebration of the tremendous gains of marginalized creators. There are two (TWO!) women nominated in the Best Director category this year. There could have been many more (Regina King, Kelly Reichardt, Cathy Yan, Autumn de Wilde, Kitty Green, Eliza Hittman...), but this is progress (poor Aaron Sorkin can't win over those directors!). It's also only the second time an Asian-American person has been nominated in Best Director and only the fourth and fifth time people Asian descent are nominated for that award.
Not to mention the huge news that Steven Yeun makes history as the first Asian-American to be nominated for Best Actor and Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor. And (AND!) the men aren't the only ones setting acting records. This nomination for Viola Davis is her fourth making her the most nominated Black actress ever (Take that Octavia Spencer!).
My favorite thing in life is movies. I truly love everything (high brow, middle brow, low brow, no brow) that cinema can offer. It's that spark of beauty, insight, or joy that draws me in every time. I miss going to movie theaters, but without the restrictions of the past year, I wouldn't have seen half of the movies that I fell deeply in love with and that's saying something. Seeing a film projected is a gift, but discovering it on a laptop can be a religious experience as well (yes, I did defy Mr. Nolan's imploring and streamed Tenet on my laptop.).
I'll take solace in knowing that I know and a lot of other people know that Delroy Lindo gave the performance of a life time in Da Five Bloods. I'll also take solace in knowing that First Cow deserved to sweep Supporting Actor, Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Adapted Screenplay while The Assistant should have taken Original Screenplay, Film Editing and Best Actress. As long as I know that, as long as I keep championing the great works of film I see, I can move forward.
I will not watch this year's ceremony because as with the Golden Globes ceremony, I'm not yet ready (if I ever will be) to laugh about COVID-19. Yet, I'll pay close attention, I'll sing songs in my heart for the films I love winning accolades, I'll shrug with apathy at those I'm indifferent to claiming their's. I'll still write out a ballot, I'll still have a standing bet with my mom that the winner of our pool treats the other to a movie whenever we're able to do that safely again. I'll still wait with bated breath for that spark when I hit play on the next film in the queue. I'll still get that feeling deep in my heart that maybe the universe of Academy voters will listen to me (because I'm right, dammit!) in December 2021 when they vote for this year's crop.