Oscars 2019, officially known as the 91st Academy Awards, has not been without controversy. Before the ceremony even takes place, Hollywood is already expressing its displeasure. As these problems plague the flagship of all awards shows, it remains to be seen what impact they will ultimately have on the show’s ratings. Here are some upsets that have been surrounding this year’s award.
2019 Oscar Nomination: The Controversy
The Unexpected Snubs
One of the usual controversies that tend to surround any awards show is the movies and the people who are shut out. For the 2019 Oscars, this includes some significant upsets. Despite being follow-ups to critically acclaimed movies, First Man and If Beale Street Could Talk were both overlooked for the Best Picture award. The snub of First Man is particularly unexpected because it was helmed by Damien Chazelle, the mastermind behind the Oscar-winning La La Land. The snub of If Beale Street Could Talk wasn’t as surprising since it was said to be on the fence between being nominated and not nominated. The fact that it was a follow up for Berry Jenkins who previously took home the Oscar for Moonlight wasn’t quite enough to get it a nomination.
In the Best Actor category, Ethan Hawke was shut out despite his role in First Reform and the movie’s nomination for Best Original Screenplay. And despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, John David Washington didn’t receive an Oscar nod for BlacKkKlansman. The Best Actor nominee went to Adam Driver, John’s co-star in the movie. In the Best Actress category, Emily Blunt missed being nominated for her lead role in Mary Poppins Returns. Had she received an Oscar nomination, it would have been her first one.
When it comes to Best Supporting Actor, another upset for many was the shutting out of Michael B. Jordan, for his role in Black Panther. Time magazine even called his performance as Erik Killmonger, a villain more complex than has ever been seen on screen before.
The 2019 Oscars is also causing controversy for its lack of female director nominees. In fact, despite the nomination of female directors in previous years, this year they were shut out completely. However many much-loved films released in 2018 were directed by women. This includes names such as Chloe Zhao, Marielle Heller, and Lynne Ramsay.
A Cutting Edge Upset
Aside from the usual Oscar controversies, this year’s carries another one with it.
In an attempt to cut down the awards show runtime, producers originally announced their intentions of presenting certain categories during commercial breaks. This caused an uproar among some of Hollywood’s most elite.
Dozens upon dozens of Hollywood cinematographers and directors have gone so far as to endorse an angry open letter to the Oscars producers. Two of those names are Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee (nominated for Best Director), men who are well respected in the industry. They and many more are arguing that presenting awards for live action shorts, makeup and hair, as well as editing and cinematography during commercial breaks shows extreme disrespect for the work these professionals do. They are protesting the producer’s justification that acceptance speeches for these awards will be taped and later aired for at-home viewers. Even more of a slap in the face is that the acceptance speeches would be edited before airing, presumably to cut down on the length of each one.
Since the plan to scale back on certain awards presentations was released to the public, celebrities haven’t been shy about speaking out against it. Those such as Alfonso Cuaron, two-time Oscar winner, Guillermo del Toro, and even Russell Crowe, have expressed harsh words against the idea. In fact, Cuaron spoke out on social media and pointed out that editing and cinematography are essential to every movie that has ever been made, while Guillermo del Toro said that they represent “cinema itself.”
Spike Lee added that he “would be lost,” without the contributions of editors and cinematographers.
Other celebrities have been less verbal but still expressed their displeasure about the controversy. Crowe simply said that the idea was a “fundamentally stupid decision.” Seth Rogan pointed out that the people who actually film the movies are the ones being disrespected at an awards show meant to honor those movies.
Certain Academy members have expressed their disinterest in the idea by refusing to vote because of it. They have seen the letter that countless Hollywood heavy hitters are supporting. It states that it is insulting to those who chose to pursue a behind the scenes career in the movie industry to relegate their awards to commercial breaks. The letter also points out that the entire point of the Oscars is to honor those who excel in the area of cinematic arts. Instead, it has more become a way to entertain the masses and let the network collect advertising dollars.
In response to this detailed letter, the Academy released a letter of its own. In it, they promise their committee that every category and every winner will be celebrated equally. They speak about their commitment in sticking to the traditional role the Oscars fills in Hollywood.
Academy vs America – More Controversies
One remaining upset surrounding the 2019 Oscars is the introduction and subsequent reversal of a new awards category. Traditionally, Oscar nominees have been those that the Academy members enjoyed the most. However, there were plans to include the new Outstanding Achievement in a Popular Film category. This award would have reflected the film viewers enjoyed the most. It was in response to movies the Academy overlooked yet the public loved, such as Avatar and Mama Mia.
Due to an unexpected backlash, however, the idea has been scrapped, for now at least. Many actors and writers spoke out against this proposed new category. They considered it a degradation of what the Oscars mean to those who are honored with one. It has also been noted that this new category was designed to appeal to the viewing audience, as opposed to those who will be attending in person. This is a reversal that it seems no one in the industry would have been happy with.
The 91st Academy Awards will be held on 24 Feb 2019 at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.