2024 Oscars: the backlash behind the nominations

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Women being snubbed at the Oscars. What a surprise. Award shows, and society as a whole, have a history of ignoring women, and are often dominated by white male talent. The Oscars is no different. Of course, women are celebrated in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, but even here we see a lack of diversity: only one black woman has been nominated for and won Best Actress. Halle Berry in 2002 made history becoming the first black woman to win the coveted award, yet over 20 years later she remains the only one.

This theme of exclusion of people of colour in nominations prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in 2015 after all 20 slots for acting nominations were filled with white actors. Although this did encourage audiences and the Academy to re-evaluate the films they were viewing, little was done in terms of nominations, even off the back of extremely successful films like Black Panther (2018) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018) which both have a majority non-white cast. The issues of diversity within awards shows are deeply integrated in their creation and so even in 2024, criticisms have been made. But are these criticisms justified or is the issue intensified by social media?

Women around the world praised the film for its comedic and heartfelt portrayal of a sad reality we must face, whilst drawing on nostalgia and childhood memories

Since the Oscar’s conception in 1929, only eight women have been nominated for the prestigious Best Director, with only three of those women winning the award. Out of these eight women, Greta Gerwig was nominated in 2017 for her directorial debut, Ladybird (2017). A bittersweet story of growing up and teenage boredom, Ladybird has become somewhat a cult-classic to young women and perfectly epitomises the feeling of leaving home and growing up. But Gerwig’s 2023 box-office hit Barbie failed to land her a second nomination. Despite receiving a nomination for Best Picture, many fans and critics alike suggest Gerwig was snubbed when it came to Best Director. The film received a staggering amount of support when it was first released making it the highest grossing film of 2023, accumulating nearly $1.5 billion.

Women around the world praised the film for its comedic and heartfelt portrayal of a sad reality we must face, whilst drawing on nostalgia and childhood memories. At both the Golden Globes and Director’s Guild of America, Greta Gerwig was honoured with a nomination, so why is it different at the Oscars? Many fans are outraged at the result, likening it to the plot of the film in which Barbie, with all her skill and intelligence, has ‘Barbie Land’ taken over by Ken who is fuelled with a new-found understanding of the patriarchy. Greta Gerwig not receiving a nomination further highlights the importance of the film and its message, especially since Ken actor Ryan Gosling has been nominated for his performance. But should we criticise the Academy for their choices, especially when Barbie received nominations for other awards? And is this an example of sexism in the film industry, or rather a bias towards dramatic and serious films as opposed to comedy and musical?

In the real world, it is Ken and not Barbie being celebrated

Another major snub in the nominations was Margot Robbie, ‘Barbie’ herself, who lost out in the Best Actress category. This category obviously has no problem in the number of women being nominated, unlike the Directors, so why was there such outrage with the nominations? This anger can be attributed to the themes explored in Barbie – the idea that women are capable of anything, as seen in the President, Scientist and Mermaid Barbies. Yet in the real world, it is Ken and not Barbie being celebrated.

Although I do agree with this sentiment to an extent, we must also consider other factors that lead to Margot Robbie’s snub. Firstly, only five women are chosen for the shortlist, meaning the competition is very tight, especially with three of the nominees – Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan, and Annette Bening – being nominated before, which shows simply how high the standard is in the category. Other award shows like the Golden Globes separate the actors by genre meaning it is easier for Margot Robbie starring in a comedy to be nominated. Furthermore, America Ferrera was nominated by Best Supporting actress, so we can ask if our efforts are better spent celebrating her nomination rather than focusing on the lack of Margot Robbie’s.

So, do we have a right to be annoyed when Ken is nominated and not Barbie, or should we accept that awards should be given purely on acting skill rather than cultural contexts and impacts? Especially when it was nominated for Best Picture, Costume Design, Adapted Screenplay, and Production Design. But as Gosling himself said, “to say that I’m disappointed that they (Robbie and Gerwig) are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement,” which I think this perfectly encapsulates the feeling. Disappointed. In these online criticisms of the nominations, the aim is not to undermine the success of other women, but to reflect on the irony of the leading women being overlooked. Unfortunately, we do not live in ‘Barbie Land’ yet, but we can call out injustice when we see it. And to conclude in the words of Ryan Gosling, “there is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie.”

Image credit: Samuel Ramos via Unsplash

One thought on “2024 Oscars: the backlash behind the nominations

  • The 2024 Oscars controversy continues with notable snubs, especially Greta Gerwig for “Barbie.” 🎥 Despite its box-office success and critical acclaim, the lack of a Best Director nod highlights ongoing issues in diversity and representation in Hollywood. 🚫👩‍🎬 Margot Robbie’s exclusion from Best Actress furthers the debate on the industry’s appreciation of comedic versus dramatic roles. 🤷‍♀️ Yet, we celebrate achievements like America Ferrera’s nomination, focusing on progress while acknowledging the journey ahead. 💪✨ #Oscars2024 #RepresentationMatters #BarbieSnub

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