This past Tuesday, at the awkwardly specific time of 8:18 a.m. EST, the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally came.
Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards were finally revealed, albeit after some woefully cringeworthy banter by presenters Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross. We’ll take what we can get, I suppose.
I usually try not to get too excited before these announcements. It is the Academy, so there are bound to be some ridiculous choices or glaring oversights in the nominations slate, and this year proved no exception. Fortunately, though, there are opportunities for some of the year’s best films to receive the accolades they rightly deserve.
So come with me and you’ll be… in a woooorld of Oscar nominations.
There were some terrific movies eligible for awards this year, and the Academy appears to have actually seen some of them this year. What a time to be alive!
“The Power of the Dog,” an intimate, unique addition to the Western genre from director Jane Campion led the way with 12 nominations — and rightly so. Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee are strong contenders for the acting awards, as are the film’s director, cinematographers, writers and even the film score’s composer. Every aspect of this movie was spectacular, and even the Academy couldn’t ignore that.
There were plenty of other deserving nominees to have their names read out Tuesday morning.
Ariana DeBose was nominated for Best Actress for her infectiously lively performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” reboot. The extremely creative and wildly entertaining “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” received a nomination for Best Animated Feature. And Japan’s “Drive My Car” received a lot of love from the Academy, with nominations for Best International Feature Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and even Best Picture.
But if I had to pick a nomination that I was most glad to see, I think it would be Troy Kotsur’s nod for his performance in CODA. His textured, tender performance lent an indispensable air of sincerity to a film that already packed a hearty, emotional punch. Not to mention that he became only the second deaf actor to ever be nominated for an Oscar, joining 1987’s Best Actress winner Marlee Matlin.
What I am about to say is not for the faint of heart. When I heard this, my heart was filled with rage that none of the above nominations could quell.
“Don’t Look Up” was nominated for Best Picture.
I genuinely cannot believe how such an abhorrently smug, underdeveloped, slow-paced, unfunny and pathetic excuse for satire was granted one of film’s highest honors.
What’s more insulting is that it was also nominated for Best Editing, when the editors literally left a shot of the whole production crew in the movie — an effort pitifully dismissed as some sort of meta-commentary by the film's out-of-touch director. And it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, despite being the most poorly written film I’ve seen in years.
There was also a strange amount of recognition for “Being the Ricardos,” a movie I’ll gladly admit I haven’t even seen yet because the trailers for it were about as enticing as drying paint. Yet apparently it was able to collect three nominations in the acting categories.
There were a few other strange nods handed out, like “Belfast” being nominated for Best Sound, that were enough to raise an eyebrow. But the worst part of this whole thing, by far, is that we will be powerless to do anything about the worst movie of the year being put in the company of some of the year’s best.
In true Oscars tradition, there were plenty of films and performances that weren’t given the honor of being nominated for an award this year.
Most glaring of these omissions was Julia Ducornau’s “Titane,” which somehow didn’t even make it into the 15-film shortlist for Best International Feature, despite being one of the best and most memorable movies released in 2021.
Also left out in the cold was Rebecca Hall’s “Passing,” a brilliantly nuanced fictionalization of the struggles that come with finding one’s racial identity, headlined by three spectacular performances from Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland.
Even the films lucky enough to be granted nominations didn’t receive enough credit.
Catríona Balfe was sensational in “Belfast,” doing everything she could to bring to life the motherly love that fueled her character’s desire to protect her son from the dangerous Troubles in 1960s Northern Ireland. And Rachel Zegler's captivating performance as Maria in "West Side Story" was also puzzlingly left off the board.
But these are our friends at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, after all. Mistakes like these are part of the charm.
I’m kidding, of course. This is yet another lackluster showing from a body that is in desperate need of reform. But we’ll have fun anyway because awards are fun. And I think that as long as we acknowledge their flaws, we can have fun.
You can see the full list of this year's nominees here.
But for now, all we can do is wait for Hollywood’s biggest stars to gather at the Dolby Theater on March 27 for their biggest show of the year.
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