The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The Oscars are just one big popularity contest 

Carolyn Hultz

After the release of the 2024 Oscar nominations list, the annual uproar began with the public calling out snubs.

Many were outraged by both Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie not receiving nominations for “Barbie” for either directing or acting, according to a Jan. 23 article by Los Angeles Times.

However, this was swiftly countered by others questioning if “Barbie” was even an Oscar-worthy movie at all. 

With various hot takes making their way around the internet, it leaves many wondering who are the people making these decisions.

The Academy is made up of an assortment of over 10,000 film industry professionals. However, only 9,500 of them are eligible to vote, according to a Feb. 27, 2023 article by Vanity Fair.

There are 17 branches of voting ranging from cinematographers, directors and even those who work in marketing. Those with established work within the film industry are invited to join either by being sponsored by two existing members or receiving an Oscar nomination, according to the Vanity Fair article. 

When voting, most academy members are not even required to watch every nominated film, according to the same article. This creates space for bias rather than comparing all of the nominees.

What it really comes down to is what films are marketed the best and reach the most prospective voters and with a billion dollars anyone could buy their way into the Oscar race according to a March 11, 2023 article by IndieWire

While I do believe the Oscars have picked a good assortment of films and performances, I still feel frustrated by the work that has fallen under the radar. 

A standout performance for me was Zac Efron in “The Iron Claw.” The film as a whole has been completely ignored throughout the award season. 

Zac Efron is most well known for his role in Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” trilogy, therefore he may not have been taken as seriously by the Academy.

Another stand-out performance that may have fallen victim to the same fate was Charles Melton in “May December,” who’s known for his work on “Riverdale.”

The Academy usually likes to play it safe by following movies with more commercial and critical success in order to gain mass appeal, according to a Feb. 10, 2020 article by Business Insider.

By nominating films with the most viewers, they believe they will receive less backlash and have more people tune in to the rather expensive event.

It is also typical for the Academy to not acknowledge younger or lesser known actors, like when Rachel Ziegler was not invited to attend the 2022 Oscars after starring in “West Side Story,” despite the film acquiring several nominations 

Even when younger or lesser-known actors receive nominations, they are still typically snubbed by more experienced actors.

Last year “Everything Everywhere All at Once” absolutely swept at the Oscars, including winning Best Picture, Lead Actor and Actress.

All those wins were well deserved, except Jamie Lee Curtis for her supporting role over Stephanie Hsu.

In terms of performances within “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Hsu was definitely the stand-out performance. While I’m shocked Curtis had yet to win an Oscar, snubbing another actor to make up for past snubs creates a continuous cycle.

Just because actors are new to the industry, it does not mean they are any less talented than the actors that precede them. Yes, actors grow and learn over time, but just because someone is better known, it does not equate to giving a better performance. 

To reach the Academy’s attention, a film must have good marketing, allowing  “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” the biggest movies of the summer, to receive various nominations.

Studios pour money into Oscars campaigns in hopes that members of the Academy will be influenced by ads and events surrounding the film, according to a Feb. 21, 2019 Vox article.

Along with proper funding, filmmakers and actors need certain connections to even get considered. Movies with less funding and fewer established actors or filmmakers will never be able to receive the same acclaim as those who do.

We need to stop placing so much importance on the Oscars and other award shows due to the impossible task they are given. 

Rather than only cherishing the films the Oscars give their seal of approval to, we need to make our own judgments on films—otherwise we’ll miss out on so many hidden gems that don’t catch the Academy’s attention.


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