Are Academy Award nominations the best of the best or just the least hated?

By Staff Writer Gabriella Barthe.

2018 was a big year in film. With superhero films holding the top two spots in worldwide gross profits, Avengers: Infinity War becoming the fourth movie to surpass the $2 billion milestone, the Marvel Cinematic Universe becoming the first film franchise to gross more than $15 billion, for the first time in history the month of February hit $1 billion in ticket sales in North America, Pixar became the first animation studio to have three films surpass $1 billion in box office sales, and Bohemian Rhapsody set the record for the most-grossing biopic ever, 2018 was a record year.

With so many notable achievements in film, we reach 2019 and the Academy now has to decide which films will win an “Academy Award” otherwise known as an Oscar. The Golden Globe awards happened on January 6 with Bohemian Rhapsody taking home the Best Film award in Drama, Green Book winning for Best Musical or Comedy, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse winning Best Animated Film.

The Critics’ Choice Awards found Roma the best fit for Best Film, and both organizations gave Alfonso Cuaron the Best Director award for his work on the film. Though these awards have no real baring on who the Academy will give their votes to.

The Oscars will be broadcast live on Sunday February 24 at 5:00 p.m. on ABC. In anticipation to the show, the nominations as usual have been released for the public to debate on what they think will win, and people were surprised by the list.

Up for Best Picture are Black Panther, BLACKkKLANSMAN, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favorite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, and Vice. Many were happily surprised to see Black Panther and BLACKkKLANSMAN earning some of the diversity and general recognition they rightfully deserved. Black Panther is the first superhero film ever to be nominated for this category – an amazing feat in itself.
A surprising turn of events has left many stumped that Avengers: Infinity War, the number one movie of the year wasn’t chosen as the Best Picture Nominee to be the first superhero film ever. Though, cinematically speaking, Black Panther had a more solid story line. Roma became Netflix’s first ever nomination for Best Picture, as well as Hulu’s Minding the Gap getting their first nomination as well in the documentary category, causing many to ask if they should be eligible at all. Seeing the powerful cinematography coming out of the streaming service it would be a waste of talent and time not to consider them.

On the animation side it seems that a tough battle is forming between Incredibles 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the ever-classic Wes Anderson work Isle of Dogs. Mirai and Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet also received nominations but next to the three iconic and beloved films and directors for the other two works it seems unlikely that they will pull ahead.

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, Rami Malek, and Viggo Mortensen are all up for the Actor in a Leading Role category, and Yalitza Aparicio, Glenn Close, Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga, and Melissa McCarthy are nominated for Actress in a Leading Role.
With limited releases for Roma, The Favourite, Green Book, and At Eternity’s Gate it’s hard to say what might pull ahead. Though, Rami Malek’s interpretation of Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and Christian Bale’s acting in Vice were scarily accurate and phenomenal performances in and of themselves.

Adam Driver is up for a Supporting Actor award for his performance in BLACKkKLANSMAN and seems to be the front runner against Mahershala Ali, Sam Elliot, Richard E. Grant, and Sam Rockwell. Though, Rockwell’s presentation as President Bush is eerily similar in visuals alone.

With no nominations for actors out of Black Panther, and only one for BLACKkKLANSMAN it doesn’t look good for these two films taking home their best picture win. Black Panther is recognized for its amazing costumes among several other nominations and BLACKkKLANSMAN did receive a nomination for best director and some more behind the scenes aspects though so hopefully they walk away with at least those wins respectively.

Among films not winning this year we look to Won’t You Be My Neighbor the Mr. Rogers biographical documentary that was snubbed by not being nominated at all. Surprisingly, the hit film The Hate U Give didn’t receive any nominations and the beautifully shot and barely spoken about Bad Times at the El Royale also didn’t make the list. Neither did Boots Riley’s phenomenal indie film Sorry to Bother You.

The Academy has a habit of disregarding horror films in general. The first and only horror movie to win Best Picture was The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.
Last year Get Out made history making Jordan Peele’s debut as a director earn nominations in all three categories top categories, making him the third person to receive that distinction. Though, Get Out didn’t win the award and this year no horror movie will win the award because as usual none were nominated. Fans are amiss to see that A Quiet Place is seemingly nowhere to be found which isn’t at all surprising seeing that only six horror films have every secured a Best Picture nomination.
So how does the Academy choose which films will win? In a very contrived and complicated voting system. In order to be nominated, shows actually have to lobby to around 7,000 film professionals who belong to the Academy.

Nominations are decided within circles of people from each category. Actors nominate for Best Actor, Directors for Best Director, etc though when it comes to Best Picture everyone votes.

For Best Picture everyone submits a ranked list of 5 to 10 nominations. For all other categories the lists cannot be more than 5. If a film receives enough first place votes they are nominated for the category, the number to beat is the number of ballots received, divided by the total number of possible nominees plus one. So, if 7,000 people vote in Best Picture and only 50 films were made this year and all were eligible, then 7,000 divided by 51 (because they add one) would be 138 votes to receive a nomination.
After all of the first place nominees are counted and some are pushed through, anything that had the fewest votes is removed and whatever garnered the most votes as the second place pick are tallied.

This keeps happening down every number of nominees until only 5 films are selected. Which often results in films that are simply the least controversial or the least hated winning nominations rather than the ones most liked. Once the nominations are chosen, everyone on the Academy gets to vote. Time will tell which of nominees make it out alive.


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