The Importance of the 2018 Oscars

Julia Lees

This award season has been ripe with movements for a better Hollywood, but it has also faced controversy. The Oscar nominations, released January 23, may have been a step in the right direction. The 2018 nominations have shown what appears to be real change in the bias against women and minorities in categories that have been seemingly reserved for white men in the past.

Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both earned nominations for best director for “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” respectively. Jordan Peele is the fifth black man to ever earn a best director nomination. He could possibly make history by being the first black man to ever win in this category. Peele is also the first person of color, and the third person ever, to earn nominations for directing, writing, and best picture. Greta Gerwig, the writer-director of “Lady Bird”, is the fifth woman to ever earn a best direction nomination. This nomination ends an eight-year period with no female director nominations. Both of these new but accomplished directors were not nominated for Golden Globes for best direction. The Golden Globes received a negative response for its all white male nominees. Both “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” deserve all the praise that they have received. “Get Out” is what people are calling ‘a socially conscious thriller’. It is a shocking, beautiful masterpiece that is redefining the horror genre. “Lady Bird” is a raw coming of age story about a girl trying to find herself. These movies, and these directors received the recognition they deserve, which was something that was entirely possible that they would not get because of the problems with the Academy Awards that have been present in that past and are still present today.

James Franco was not nominated for an Oscar. He was nominated for a SAG award and won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture- Comedy. Many are attributing this to the sexual harassment and exploitation claims. Women accusing Franco of harassment came forward after the Golden Globes, which was held on January 7, 2018. The voting within the Academy opened on January 5 and closed on January 12, 2018. It is entirely possible that James Franco was ‘shut out’ or ‘snubbed’ of an Oscar nomination over the recent news. Maybe the academy feared the same fury towards this nomination that occured with the Casey Affleck, nomination and evental win. It is customary for the winner of best actor to present the best actress award the following year. This is something that Casey Affleck is still being allowed to do, despite the recent movement against sexual harassment. No one seems to want to say, maybe James Franco just wasn’t good enough. People are quick to blame the movement, but their are other causes to Franco’s lack of a nomination. Best Actor is a competitive category and all of these men gave incredible performances in their respective works. Honestly, any way it is looked at, the Oscars are better off without James Franco. Whether he really just wasn’t good enough, or he was shut out for the nominations, it doesn’t really matter in the end. What does matter is that he is not given more recognition and a more advanced platform for a career that he has used to abuse and manipulate women.

There is no doubt that there was a change seen in this years Oscars. One would hope this means a better Hollywood, but that is not nessecerally what is going to happen. Bias and intolerance are not things that will go away overnight. The root of all of these controversies that circle the industry over and over again, is the people that hold the power in Hollywood. In 2016, all non-white actors were shut out of the Oscars. A main issue in 2018 is sexual harassment and exploitation. These two things have the same root. It is the old white men who hold all of the power in Hollywood, and that use that to their advantage. This year, there was an undeniable shift. Women, and other minorities were given the recognition that they deserved. This is a start. We are seeing people as they are. People are rejecting those who slap a pin on their lapel and pretend that they contribute to and support movements that they have done nothing for. The hope is that this ignites a spark of support for minorities attempting to break into jobs that have historically been awarded to white men. The hope is that the history that has been made here does not die out, becoming a forgotten pin, of a man who can’t remember its meaning.