Analysis | Nominations for Best Movies at the 2021 Oscars: An Unexpected View of the Year in Review
Photo: Best film 2021
The year 2020 is synonymous with ‘Parasite’Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning masterpiece of the year, the first foreign film to achieve this feat in Oscar history. But in the true sense of irony, all the other images, all eight other nominations for best film, featuring majority white casts. Only two films featured a female lead role with ‘Little woman’ and “Marriage story”. A rather disturbing amount of white male representation in a year when films like ‘The farewell’ and “ The last black man in San Francisco ” would be released.
Spent last year, it is very refreshing to see the Academy’s selection for 2021, opting for ‘Promising young woman’, “ The Trial of the Chicago Seven ”, and a more dynamic global representation of the year.
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Nominations for Best Film 2021
‘The father’, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, ‘Mank’, “Minari”, ‘Nomadland’, ‘Promising young woman’, ‘Sound of metal’, and ‘Trial of the Chicago Seven’
Obviously, this year’s selection covers a very broad conceptual network, ranging from Daniel Kaluuya representation of Fred hampton, Vice-president of Black panther party, at Frances McDormand’s heartwarming performance as Fern, the van nomad traveling across Central America. The Academy chose films from 2021 that represent a wide range of experiences, choosing to release films that in most cases would not have received as much acclaim as they did. To understand why these films are successful, you have to understand the context in which these films are produced.
In a year where COVID 19 made filming nearly impossible, only the most dedicated films were distributed
The majority of this year’s films are produced independently, which is unusual for the Oscars. If we look back to 2020, for reference, the Best Picture nominees had an average budget of just over $ 65.5 million. This year, the nine nominated films averaged just over $ 12 million per budget. I believe that this huge gap in budgets is what allows us to receive a much more heterogeneous assortment of nominations. At a time when filming anything would not only be extremely difficult physically, but also a financially painful undertaking. Because of this, producers and directors have been forced to decide whether they want to do something cheap or lose money.
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For the most part, large production companies have gone through 2021 without production, choosing to cancel or delay upcoming releases and postpone all upcoming projects. For this reason, 2021 has been a year without major “blockbusters”, except for a few special occasions. This allowed more low budget films to gain recognition as the market was not oversaturated with big budget productions. However, these films only rose to prominence on their own merit. There were hardly any serious marketing or financial backing campaigns for any of this year’s nominations to fall back on to generate buzz. These films have succeeded here because of the quality of their productions, nothing else.
This year’s nominations have been criticized for being too ‘mournful’ among other prime descriptions
Bill maher, the HBO political talk show host had a number of things to say about this year’s Best Picture nominees. Maher would keep saying, “The Oscars have to change their name to the Debbies – as in Debbie Downer. Because judging by the nominees for this year’s Best Picture, you couldn’t have a worse time in the movies if there was an active shooter in the theater ”.
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Obviously, this is a criticism based on the general tone of the films, not their actual merit, while likening them to one of the most heinous and incomprehensible crimes imaginable, further proving the rambling perception of the film by Maher. This statement is especially appalling when you watch last year’s whitewashed nominations featuring expressly emotional themes in films such as, ‘Jojo Rabbit’, ‘The Joker’ and ‘Marriage story’.
So what’s the difference between the 2020 nominations and the 2021 nominations since they both focus on tense and emotional themes? Well, I think a logical answer would be for the 2021 nominations to focus on real world issues. Problems that are based on reality, which makes it harder to deal with these topical issues because people find a real connection to them, thematically. Deafness is not a glamorous topic, but rather a common illness that anyone can relate to.
Losing your job at the local Amazon factory is a depressing thought, but it is also a reality for millions of people who live in this country. Fred Hampton was a real person, fighting over real issues, and that reality makes these movies more difficult to deal with than a movie about a villainous superhero or a race car driver. This disconnect between the Hollywood elite and this year’s nominations shows a growing gap between the historic idea of Hollywood and a new way of creating, perceiving and representing art through cinema.
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The new school of cinema
Today, filmmakers go out and shoot things independently, work with talent that isn’t usually synonymous with super celebrity, and tackle topics that aren’t traditionally explored in Hollywood. And all of this is happening at a time when social interaction is most limited. Never has it been more accessible for the amateur filmmaker to hire a camera, film an original concept and pitch it. We now have the booming industry of Diffusion, independent distributors like A24, and a massive film community on YouTube and other social platforms. We are witnessing the divergence of opinions away from successful Hollywood ideals at a rapid pace. People are opting for personal, low-budget artistic alternatives to traditional studio offerings.
There is nothing more evident about this trend than the Oscars’ progression towards a more decentralized view of the film. It’s great to see the Academy accept these more modernized offerings for what they are and give them the platform they deserve. As more and more films like these gain attraction and success, more will be made. The rising tide lifts all boats, and this is also true with the film industry. As Hollywood begins to embrace this new sentiment, we will see an increasingly diverse portrayal of humanity through cinema, and the Academy has made great strides in achieving this goal.
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