I used to get pretty irate at the notion that film critics are disconnected from the general movie-going audience. For one, they are the general movie going audience, at least in part; they’re just a subsection of it. Everyone who watches films has a different idea about what they want from films, and the general public would produce just as varied a collection of opinions were the tables turned.
There is, however, somewhat more of a disconnect between the general movie going audience and the Academy Awards, who have recently announced their nominations. Rather than a subsect of the general public, the Academy is somewhat more elitist; an old boy’s club with their eyes on only a particular set of films, always eschewing and ignoring plenty of far more deserving films. While the 2018 list is more inclusive than in pastyears, and honours a wider variety of worthy films, there’s still some glaring omissions and curious decisions. Still, points for trying, and points for not including The Emoji Movie. But not including The Emoji Movie wins bonus points already says a lot, doesn’t it?
And that’s not to say the actual selections for Best Animated Feature are much better, either. There are some truly deserving nominations, as there always are; Coco, Loving Vincent and The Breadwinner are all fantastic films worthy of all the accolades they receive. But sat right next to them in the nominations are Ferdinand and The Boss Baby. The Boss Baby, for crying out loud! Does the Academy think so lowly of Coco that it thinks The Boss Baby can compete, or does it think so highly of The Boss Baby that they feel it’s as worthy as Coco? Either way, I don’t like the answer.
The Animated Feature category, as it so often does, contains the most outrageous inclusions in these Academy Awards; the crime of most other categories is largely an error of omission, or of placing films in the wrong categories. How on Earth, for instance, is Dunkirk really supposed to compete with Baby Driver in the Film Editing or Sound Editing? Dunkirk is a fantastic movie, don’t get me wrong, and it certainly has the edge for Original Score and Sound Mixing, but it feels out of place in some of these categories, as though it’s there simply for the accolade. How Baby Driver isn’t also in the running for cinematography is utterly beyond me. Likewise, I would argue that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is far more deserving of Production Design than it is for Original Score.
I haven’t even gotten to the big categories yet, although I actually have less to be mad about here. Credit where it’s due: it’s both well deserved and heartwarming to see Emily V Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick nominated for Original Screenplay, both for the genre of comedy and for Nanjiani himself. The film was one of the most genuinely wonderful films of the past year, and I’m very grateful to see its inclusion here. Likewise, the inclusion of Logan in Adapted Screenplay is as incredible as it is unprecedented. In some places more than others, it seems the Academy seemed to strive to reward stellar filmmaking no matter where it came from this year. An incredibly diverse range of people and talents seems to be being honoured this year, and it’s great to see. I’m incredibly thankful also for Greta Gerwig’s Best Director nomination.
Beyond that, I have only minor gripes with the major categories. I’d have put Edgar Wright up for Best Director over Paul Thomas Anderson, but both are perfectly deserving. And as much as I really don’t care for The Darkest Hour, of course Gary Oldman is up for Best Actor. Maybe I’m not as mad at the Oscars this year as I thought I was when I started this article. Or maybe nominating The Boss Baby for best animated feature is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard and I want to burn the whole thing to the ground. Who knows?