A Fair Academy: 2022 “Should Be” Nominees

Last year (I believe) the Oscars put this Black man on the camera during an intermission to share how they are “continuing” to be more inclusive…

But with the conversations I am seeing on social media, as well as certain hype for films and directors that were initiated via marketing and promos, I can’t help but to think that statement was/is a lie. 

I looked up the committee, CEO, and President of the Academy, and VERY similar to how some smaller conversations are starting to brew about the reflective makeup of Congress to the America of today, this can be said about the Academy—i.e. in order for this shift to really occur, there needs to be more younger and diverse committee members.

I don’t think it’s a secret, but it’s definitely something the Academy has been able to avoid having to talk about, BUT of course the Academy is a literal “Academy.” It’s an elite, white rooted country club for films. Will and Jada brought this up years ago, and of course we remember the hashtag “Oscars So White.” 

As a Black man who enjoys films, and is part of this reviewing community, I find myself always asking:  

“Where do these film standards even derive from?” 

“How many BIPOCs were part of that process of determining the standards?” 

“How old are these people on the committee, and are they of a generation that is more inclusive in their film viewing?” 

“Without true diversity, wouldn’t the nominated films be part of an exclusive agenda?”

* * *

Especially when I am seeing Oscar-worthy praise for films like Licorice Pizza and The Power of the Dog, and their directors. Now specific actors and/or actresses of these films deserve their praise, but not the entire project in my opinion. 

But… since the Academy is this “country club,” it makes sense the praise would be there, and it’s truly unfair to other films and filmmakers—especially BIPOC films and filmmakers who put in some really unique and forward thinking work, and now are overlooked because “country club favorites and members” automatically get to take a nomination slot even if it’s mediocre, bland, and/or vague. 

When I think of the Oscars, I see the Academy having the obligation and purpose of showcasing stories, actors, actresses, and film teams that everyone should watch, if given the chance, because almost everyone will be able to either not deny its/or a performer’s engaging  and/or technical uniqueness and greatness, and/or find someway to resonate with it/or the character. So to circle back… That is NOT The Power of the Dog. That is NOT Licorice Pizza. 

But I digress… 

Anyway, I have always thought a more accurate, unbiased Academy nomination process would involve the following: 

Phase 1: Audience Ballot—during this phase, 50-100 diverse individuals composed of social media film reviewers of varying reach (thousands of followers to a small few—focus is on how they review/see films) are asked to enter what they feel are the top films of the year, who they feel gave the best performances of the year, cinematography, etc. 

Phase 2: Celebrity Ballot—in this phase, the top 10 films from Phase 1 are then voted on by the actors and directors of those films. BUT They can’t vote for their own film or themselves. It’s about who they would give it to if it wasn’t them. 

Phase 3: The Academy Vote—similar and simultaneous to phase 2, those on the committee in the Academy see the same top 10 list, and vote for the film and individuals who they feel should take home the award.

Phase 4: The narrowing—take the total votes from phases 2 and 3, and narrow it down to the top 8 films, and top 5 for every other category with the film and individuals with the highest votes being the winners of the actual award. 

* * *

With a process like this, I believe so many more films will get the recognition they deserve, and provide more balance and humility to the Academy and “its faves.” I mean, why do we have some white people who have been nominated 10+ times? Have you ever looked up the names of actors and actresses with 10+ nominations? None are BIPOCs. 

With all of that being said, the 2022 nominations are on the way (revealed Tuesday, Feb. 8th), and I want to share what I’d LOVE to see in certain categories that definitely align with my views of the Oscar’s purpose and obligation. I have also included films and/or performances that shouldn’t be nominated, and why, for some categories. Keep in mind 2 things: 1. My list isn’t as diverse as I would like it. I don’t have literal time (as someone who works in education, especially now during a pandemic) to attend, nor do I have access to Sundance or other festivals to experience what’s out there and give those BIPOC films their praises; 2. My list will include categories that are not fully complete as I am not trying to predict. Rather, I am just naming films that shouldn’t be overlooked/should be given a spot. 

* * *

BEST PICTURE

Films I’d love to see nominated:

King Richard

West Side Story

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

Films that should be overlooked: 

The Power of the Dog

There is nothing about this film that can appeal across all audiences. It is perfectly okay for Jane Campion to have made a film that is “just okay” and treated like a Tyler Perry drama—praised and appreciated only within the white community. 

Licorice Pizza

Similar to TPOTD, there is nothing about this film that can appeal across all audiences. Furthermore, it is a haphazard mess. 

Dune

It was smart with the casting, cinematography, and directing; but as a complete body of work, the story definitely lacked. 

The Green Knight

Exactly the same as Dune, AND it can’t appeal across all audiences (I literally watched a Black woman get up in the theater after 30 minutes of this film…that was a waste of money for her). 

* * *

BEST DIRECTOR

Filmmakers I’d love to see nominated: 

Joel Coen- Macbeth

Denis Villenueve- Dune

Steven Spielberg- West Side Story

Ridley Scott- The Last Duel

Lin Manuel Miranda- Tick Tick Boom

Filmmakers who should be overlooked: 

Paul Thomas Anderson

Compared to many other films released in 2021, his work had nothing memorable or amazing. It was a simple “A-paper.” 

Jane Campion

There were moments that were beautiful, but nothing that can hold a light to what was done with the nominated films. She was another “A-paper.” Paul might’ve gotten a 93, and she would’ve gotten a 95…

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Very similar to my thoughts about Paul. 

**In this category, I also realize there are no women nominated for me. More than likely, Jane and Maggie will be nominated to meet “a quota,” but I think that is a problem the Academy needs to fix because I wonder how many independent films were released and really good, directed by women, but not even taken into consideration because Jane and Maggie were already “the faves.” 

* * *

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Films I’d love to see nominated:

Macbeth

West Side Story

The Green Knight

Films that should be overlooked: 

Dune

Mainly because it’s a “part 1” which means it’s not finished. 

Green Knight 

* * *

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Films I’d love to see nominated: 

The Harder They Fall- Jeymes Samuel & Boaz Yakin

King Richard – Zach Baylin

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay & David Sirota

* * *

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Films I’d love to see nominated: 

Mitchells vs the Machines

Encanto

Film that should be overlooked: 

Luca

It was cute, but definitely a made for streaming experiment in more ways than Mitchells vs the Machine was, and doesn’t really compete with the 2 films mentioned above in my eyes.

* * * 

BEST ACTRESS

Women I’d love to see nominated: 

Jessica Chastain- The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Jennifer Hudson- Respect

Kristen Stewart- Spencer

Jodie Comer- The Last Duel

Alana Haim- Licorice Pizza

**I would love to see more BIPOCs, but there wasn’t anything promoted with such leads last year which is disappointing because I know they were out there. 

Women who should be overlooked: 

Frances McDormand

It wouldn’t hurt her to be overlooked for once. She just had a win last year…give opportunity to a fresher group of women. 

Olivia Colman

I do love Olivia, but this was a safe performance. I have this saying that there are films actors and actresses take on to pay the bills and enjoy life with—films that fit a past character performance they’ve put on, or that fits closely to who they are in general (personality acting gigs)—and films actors and actresses take on that take true research, commitment, and work to execute (character acting gigs)… 

Olivia as Leda was a personality acting gig.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Films I’d love to see nominated: 

The Green Knight

Dune

Macbeth

* * *

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Films I’d love to see nominated: 

The Green Knight

Macbeth

West Side Story

* * *

BEST ACTOR

The Category I’d Love To See: 

Frankie Faison- The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

Denzel Washington- Macbeth

Andrew Garfield-Tick Tick Boom

Benedict Cumberbatch- The Power of the Dog

Jonathan Majors- The Harder They Fall

Men who should be overlooked: 

Will Smith

I definitely enjoyed him, but compared to the men above… and because he is an “academy fave,” which means his slot would be a default slot which is unfair, he can be overlooked. 

Dev Patel

His nomination would simply be a diversity quota for me, but there wasn’t anything really powerful or interesting about his performance compared to performances above—mainly because his character wasn’t developed well to me. 

* * *

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Men I’d love to see nominated: 

Andrew Garfield- The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Adam Driver- The Last Duel

Robin De Jesus- Tick Tick Boom

* * *

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY BLACK & WHITE

Films I’d love to see nominated: 

Passing

Macbeth

* * *

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Women I’d love to see nominated

Aunjanue Lewis- King Richard

Ariana DeBose- West Side Story

Ruth Negga- Passing

Women who can be overlooked:

Kirsten Dunst

I admit it was exciting to see her on screen, but I wasn’t as moved with her performance due to the story overall—I couldn’t quite appreciate her because I personally felt the story didn’t allow me to understand why I should, and I’d rather not nominate someone simply because they portrayed a drunken, class shifting mess. 

* * *

What hopes do you have for nominations this year? What BIPOC films did you see that should also make a particular category? 

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