Over the last few years there has been so much talk about how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can make the Oscars, also known as the Academy Awards, relevant again.
The annual show, which is scheduled for its 92nd running next month, has slowly but surely lost the prestige and viewership of years past. Last year was a good year for the Oscars, as viewership rose (from 26.5 million to 29.5 million, according to Variety), but that has not been the case in the years leading up to 2019’s hostless show. It’s unfair to say the decline in viewership is the Oscars’ fault alone. More folks are pulling the plug on cable and there are many other things—or content, as this generation of entertainers like to say—that are competing and pulling at people for their attention. But all the think pieces about the Oscars’ relevance that have been written and peddled since the nominations were released earlier this week are misguided. The Academy is not worried about the Oscars’ relevance because it doesn’t care about your think piece—good, great or bad—on the lack of women, minorities and pop culture nominees that get snubbed every year.
Sure, people that manage the Academy will say they do, but the voters—the mysterious folks that ultimately decided where the state of film and, in turn, culture is today—don’t. Don’t believe me? Look at the nominees for this year’s awards. Cynthia Erivo, the star of “Harriet,” was the lone black actor to receive a nomination for her role as escaped slave turned human rights activist, Harriet Tubman—an archetype that, for some reason, the Oscars love to reward. “The Farewell,” an Asian American female-led movie universally loved by critics, did not receive a single nomination. Director Greta Gerwig was not nominated for best director—a male-dominanted category—for her work on “Little Women,” a film that earned six other nominations. Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” received six nominations but none came in the acting categories. And pop culture hits “Uncut Gems,” “Hustlers,” “Booksmart” and “Midsommar” were all snubbed despite receiving great acclaim from critics and audiences.
This is in no way a shot at the people who earned nominations. It’s a reminder to those that love films and care about the Oscars that it is not the award show you want it to be. Will it be in a few years when the current voting body moves on? Who knows? The show has hit this roadblock before, and has been pummeled by the public for it. That has not changed it in the slightest. “Moonlight’s” win in 2016 was seen as a shift in time, a true change of a voting body’s preference and expectation. It wasn’t. And if “Green Book’s” victory last year wasn’t enough proof, then Joker’s 11 nominations this year should be. The voters don’t care about the show’s relevance. They like what they like. And you’re stuck with it.
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez can be contacted at [email protected]