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This Year’s Oscar Nominations are a Solid Step Forward for Hollywood

Award season is in full swing once again, everyone! Get ready to indulge in food, drinks, high-end fashion and Hollywood glitz and glamour…all from the comfort of your couch as you sit in your pajamas and devour a bowl of popcorn, obsessing over red carpet looks and tearing up at every speech.

On January 23, the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards (aka the Oscars) were announced. It’s shaping up to be a tight race with a variety of nominees and a spirit of diversity that will hopefully carry over to the ceremony, which will take place on March 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Jimmy Kimmel will return as the host and the show will be broadcasted on ABC, with red carpet pre-shows on several different networks beforehand.

Although Hollywood has set the bar pretty low for itself – #OscarsSoWhite was only a few years ago, after all – several of this year’s nominations are atypical and historic by entertainment standards.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on and hands out the awards, seems determined to turn over a new leaf and give more much-needed recognition to people who aren’t old white men. Just a few examples that are getting a lot of positive buzz:

  • Jordan Peele (of Get Out fame) became the first black filmmaker to be nominated for directing, writing, and producing in the same year, and the fifth black person ever to be nominated for Best Director.
  • Rachel Morrison is the first female cinematographer to receive an Oscar nomination, for Mudbound. Seriously, the first one in ninety freaking years of this awards show.
  • Timothee Chalamet from Call Me By Your Name, at age 22, is the youngest Best Actor nominee in almost 80 years of Oscars history.
  • Greta Gerwig, who directed Lady Bird, is only the fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director.
  • Yance Ford is the first transgender director to be nominated by the Academy, with a nod in Best Documentary for his film Strong Island.

At the same time that the Academy is paying more attention to representation and inclusivity in the film industry, it is also taking the ongoing #MeToo movement in Hollywood into consideration, which sets the nominees and awards apart from this year’s Golden Globes.

Actor James Franco, who won Best Actor for his role in The Disaster Artist, was noticeably absent from the list of Oscar nominees. Franco was accused of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior by five women in a Los Angeles Times article that was published on January 11, just days after the Globes ceremony. Christopher Plummer, who quickly stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World after Spacey was accused of sexual assault and his career was disgraced, received a supporting actor nod from the Academy. Finally, Casey Affleck, who won the best actor award at last year’s Oscars even while facing sexual abuse allegations, has withdrawn from presenting the best actress award at this year’s ceremony. Talk about a big change in culture in just one year!

When it comes to predictions and hopeful wins, Temple students have strong opinions on their favorite Oscar nominees, as well as films they may see as overrated or actors who they feel were snubbed.

“My favorite nominated film was Three Billboards [Outside Ebbing, Missouri],” said junior Katie Gigler. “[It was] probably my fave film of the year and Frances McDormand was great. I hope she wins best actress!”

Gigler added that she was heartened by Greta Gerwig’s Best Director nomination and saw it as symbolic for female filmmakers, but there is one highly-nominated film she could do without.

“I did not like The Shape of Water one bit! [It has] many noms but I think it’s too artsy and niche to win any big [awards].”

Senior Liv Caggiano felt that two actors who were left out of nominations should have been included.

 “Holly Hunter delivered a really great supporting role in The Big Sick that she definitely deserved a supporting actress nom for, especially compared to some of the other performances that got recognized!” Caggiano said. “Same for Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name; he delivered an impressive performance that varies greatly from his past work. I think this year the Academy went by how much clout the films had as opposed to how well made they actually were, but that’s to be expected.”

Whether your faves made it onto this year’s list of nominees or not, I can almost guarantee that the awards ceremony will be one of the most justified in recent history.

Yes, the Oscars may seem to be little more than the Hollywood elite giving themselves awards, but the refreshing variety in the nominations is proof of a commitment to change that the rest of Hollywood (and media in general) must support and adopt.

Allowing the spotlight to shine on films that involve women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ actors and characters illustrates the value of representation. It highlights the necessity of telling important stories that are too often overlooked and giving a seat at the table to those who have to work twice as hard just to be seen. There is still so much work to be done, but this is a firm step in the right direction.

So stock up on snacks, set up a girls’ night, and get ready to watch the 90th Academy Awards on March 4 at 8/7c on ABC!

Morgan is a senior journalism major at Temple University with a minor in political science. She previously served as Social Media Director for Templar Yearbook and Public Relations VP of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and she is also involved with several other campus organizations. Morgan has loved to read & write since she was young and she hopes to have a career in magazines or the larger media industry. Her many interests include concerts, politics, making Spotify playlists, meditation, pop culture, and spending far too much time on Pinterest. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @magicalmorganx.
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