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Students express excitement and frustration over Oscar nominations

February 14, 2022
<p>Oscars statues.</p>

Oscars statues.

It’s award show season, and after this year’s untelevised and lackluster Golden Globes Awards, film fans have been anxiously awaiting to hear the nominees for the 2022 Academy Awards. Their pleas were answered as the nominations were announced on Feb. 8.

The 10 Best Picture nominees are “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.”

“The Power of the Dog,” leads with 12 nominations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will win Best Picture. It is nearly impossible to predict what kind of film the Academy will choose to win that title. 

Just like critics, MSU students have no idea what movie will win, especially since movies like “Nightmare Alley,” “CODA,” “Drive My Car” and “Belfast” flew under Gen Z’s radar. Despite the blind spots, some students have reached a consensus on which films they don’t want to win, and one of those movies is “Dune.”

“This is controversial, but I don’t think ‘Dune’ deserves Best Picture,” James Madison College freshman Shae Eckles said. “Personally, I thought it was confusing, hard to follow and three hours too long — and yes, I haven’t read the book. To be fair, I only watched it for Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya anyway.”

Social Relations and Policy freshman Liv VanEss agreed with Eckles. 

“I honestly thought that ‘Dune’ was overrated,” VanEss said. “Yes, it had good actors and gathered a lot of attention, but that's not necessarily because it was a good movie. I would argue that while, yes, some people saw it because they are fans of the book, most saw it because they wanted to see Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya together on the screen.”

While the two agreed that “Dune” shouldn’t win, they also agreed that “tick, tick…BOOM!” was snubbed of a Best Picture nomination. However, Eckles and VanEss are holding out hope that “tick, tick… BOOM!” is victorious in its two nominations, especially in the Best Actor in a leading role category.

“I need Andrew Garfield to win Best Actor,” Eckles said. “He did an absolutely perfect job with ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ I will literally cry my eyes out if he doesn’t win because it was such a fabulous performance and taught more people about Jonathan Larson and ‘Rent.’”

VanEss agreed, stating that, “if Andrew Garfield does not win Best Actor I will go to law school just so I can sue the academy.”

Along with Garfield, the Best Actor category has Javier Bardem in “Being the Ricardos,” Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog,” Will Smith in “King Richard” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

As for the Best Actress category, Eckles and VanEss were disappointed that Rachel Zegler was not nominated for her role in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” reprise. However, the two are leaning towards a win for Kristen Stewart in “Spencer,” and Eckles added, “she deserves it after all the bullying and misogyny she’s faced after the twilight saga.” 

The Best Actress nomination was “Spencer’s” only nomination, which International Relations freshman Sophie Sanborn felt was justified. 

“‘Spencer was not what I was expecting,” Sanborn said. “I think that it was the right move that only Kristin Stewart was nominated for her work in the film. She was amazing in the role, but the writing and directing were just bizarre — and not in a good way. As such, I was glad to see it wasn't nominated for either of those categories.”

Stewart is up against Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter,” Penélope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers” and Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos.”

Students did not have thoughts on just the movies, but on the Oscars itself, as the award show tends to bring up the topic of representation — or a lack thereof — in the entertainment industry, especially after the “Oscars so white” controversy in 2015. 

This year, VanEss, Eckles and Sanborn all agreed that animated feature film nominee “Encanto” should win due to its representation, and the film itself. VanEss also noted that she was pleased that “King Richard” and “West Side Story” were nominated for Best Picture since they had good representation as well. 

And although the academy has become better at recognizing representation (which is partially due to new diversity rules), students agree that there is more improvement to be made, especially behind the camera and in the industry as a whole. 

“(Entertainment) is an industry where many people in all fields are grandfathered in and struggle with nepotism,” Sanborn said. “It's difficult for people of marginalized communities to make it big enough to be rewarded for their creativity and work. Too many films are passed over for subpar films created by a big wig director. This year, however, there is an increase in more diverse (movies) … However, if you then pivot to Best Director, out of the five nominations, only one is a woman and only one is not white, continuing the trend of cishet white males dominating the film industry.”

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