Today: July 15, 2024

Shake It Up: Recent Changes Within the Academy Have Led to Nomination Shake Up

Academy Award nominations have been published, and the world is gearing up for the biggest event in the film calendar. Every year, there seem to be front runners, who take a large sweep of nominations. Sometimes, these films also receive a sweep of awards. However, there are often curve balls, and those tipped to win are often pipped to the post by the dark horses of the competition. Who can forget the dramatic events of the 2017 La La Land/Moonlight saga?
Since the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929, three films have been the most nominated of all time, with fourteen nominations. All About Eve (1950), Titanic (1997), and La La Land (2016) of these fourteen nominations, All About Eve and La La Land both scooped six awards, whilst Titanic takes the lead with 11 wins in 17 categories.

It is probably too early to tell whether La La Land will stand the test of time, however for both All About Eve and Titanic continue to influence popular culture and remain relevant today. All About Eve starred Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a Broadway star who inadvertently takes a crazed fan (Eve) as her secretary. Eve manages to become Margo’s understudy, and attempts to steal every aspect of her boss’s life. The story has been replicated many times in television and film, and was even used by The Simpsons, when Lisa becomes Krusty’s assistant and finally taking his television role and winning an entertainment award.
Meanwhile, James Cameron’s Titanic continues to feature in many different aspects of entertainment, with video and slot games based on the hit film. Those into iGaming will also find bingo games with a Titanic theme, which they can try out with a sign-up bonus at sites reviewed by Oddschecker. Celine Dion, the Canadian singer of My Heart Will Go On, the title track to the film, has had a relentless international career since the film’s release, and has gone on to be one of Canada’s best-known musicians. Titanic has enjoyed many re-releases and revivals including a screening in the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, when the film’s underscore was played by a live orchestra.
However, some films are now hazy in our memories even though they gained critical acclaim at the Oscars. Sounder (1973) missed out on a best picture award to The Godfather. Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson starred, and were the first African Americans to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress in the same film. Even though Sounder may not have stood the test of time, it was deemed a commercial success, with the film being made for under $1,000,000 and taking around $17,000,000 on the box office.

Many film makers dream of being nominated for an Oscar, with recent changes to the panel of Academy voters and the way in which pictures are voted for, there maybe a chance for those who weren’t previously in the judge’s wheelhouse. However, some films are made with the intention of Academy success, and these are often known as “Oscar Bait”. These films are often released only weeks within the window to be eligible for Academy nomination, and often carry similar traits. Films with unique design elements or period dramas might be released within the nomination window in order to court awards for design, or those set in the present day may centre around a character with a physical or mental ability, but played by an able bodied actor as a way of enticing Best Actor nominations. It is also no secret that the Academy love films about Hollywood, and those films have proven to be big winners in the past.
Recently disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein racked up a total of 81 Academy wins through films produced by his production companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company, and was nominated for a further 341. Weinstein’s success was a mixture of an instinctive eye for a commercial hit and aggressive marketing. A Deadline report which came out in 2014 investigated Weinstein’s handling of The Reader, a Nazi drama which starred Kate Winslet in the lead role. It was found that Weinstein harassed leading individuals in the film’s production department, in order for release rights to be handed over to him, so that the film would make the deadline of Oscar nomination. Those who were affected by this included the widow of the film’s writer, Anthony Minghella. Weinstein has since been ejected from the Academy and fired from his production company for unrelated allegations, however his films will still be eligible for Oscar nominations.
For 2018, the recent change in the Academy panel has led to a shake up in the nominations. Films such as Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool would have expected a nomination from the Academy judging panel, especially for lead actress Annette Benning. Whilst the topic of the 2017 Academy Awards was diversity, this year’s awards are about the glass ceiling, and women’s rights. Whilst campaigns ensure that women are making headway in areas such as directing and producing, Rachel Morrison is the first woman to be nominated for an award for Cinematography for the Netflix picture Mudbound for this year’s 90th Academy Awards.

Other surprises include The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo Del Torro. Set in the Cold-War era, The Shape of Water follows a janitor (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a sea creature held at the lab in which she works. It is a stark reminder that love is more powerful than war, and alongside Hawkins nomination for Best Actor, there is also a nomination for Del Toro for Best Director, and a Best Picture nomination, and is the most accoladed film of the year.
More predictable nominations include Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, which has also received a lot of critical acclaim. The film centres around a mother’s grief for her murdered daughter, and her choice to rent three billboards on the outside of the town calling attention to the incident and the authorities who have not yet brought her daughter’s killer to justice. The film has already picked up awards for Best Screenplay and Outstanding Performance from a Cast in the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It has received seven Oscar Nominations, including Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. It has also been named one of the Top 10 Films of the Year by the American Film Institute.
Another Top 10 Film of the Year and Best Picture contender is Stephen Spielberg’s The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as journalists who release the news of the Watergate scandal. Alongside a Best Picture nomination, there is a Best Actress nomination for Streep. However, seventeen time nominee Stephen Spielberg has not been nominated for a Best Director gong, suggesting that the changed panel went for a fresher batch of directors, including 34 year old Greta Gerwig (Ladybird), who is the fifth woman to be nominated within the category.

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Another film which has caused a stir in the nominations is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Typically, films vying for Oscar nominations are released in the latter half of the year, however Get Out was released in February 2017, ahead of the 2017 Oscars. Whilst the deadline had passed to be considered for an Oscar that year, the window had opened for 2018, although it felt unlikely. Typically horror movie about a black man escaping a party of white people was not high on the agenda for The Academy, which would probably explain why Get Out was not released to coincide with nomination. However, the film has gone on to gross nearly £200,000 worldwide, and receive five Oscar nominations for 2018 including Best Actor (British actor, Daniel Kaluuya), and best Screenplay and Best Director which both go to Peele.
This year’s Academy Awards mark 90 years since the ceremonies first took place. There will likely be shocks, as there are at every awards ceremony when a front runner with ten nominations does not scoop a single gong. However, what is most likely is that speeches will be timely and politically charged. At a recent Academy luncheon, nominees were reminded of the turmoil that has shaken the industry in recent months, and were encouraged to use their platform to speak out and raise awareness of charities such as Time’s Up. Whilst it feels like a recent phenomenon that award winners use their platform for political and social issues, it is something which is steeped in Academy tradition.
With the Academy’s membership shaken up, who knows which way the voting will swing? It’ll likely be an interesting race. Now that nominations announced, all that is left to do is to watch some of these incredible films, and maybe even settle down with some popcorn to watch a vintage Hollywood classic. Apparently All About Eve is on Netflix….

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