Monday with Ms. Marvel: Oscar nominations


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Staff Reporter

The Academy just recently announced the nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards, and yet again, the highly coveted awards ceremony has failed to recognise more films made by minorities and women. The nominations have brought forth a lot of controversy and has created a discussion about diversity in film and awards, and many celebrities have spoken out about it, including author, and Academy member, Stephen King

In a tweet posted January 14, King wrote that he “would never consider diversity in matters of art.” While King is in no way the only public figure to address the controversy, the sentiment addressed in his tweet has been echoed by many who have been standing up for the Academy and the nominations. 

It’s not an uncommon argument. Amid all of this controversy, many people have reiterated the point that diversity for the sake of diversity is inherently wrong, and that awards should go to the best film or actor regardless of race, sexuality, or gender. Now, I agree with that wholeheartedly and I also believe that diversity should never be forced, however that argument fails to recognize the real problem people have with the 2020 Oscar nominations. 

The anger and disappointment doesn’t come from a place of wanting minority nominees just for the sake of having diversity, it comes from the fact that there were many incredible films and performances from people of color and women this year that have been passed over in favor for what some people may not see as great films.  

Movies such as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were given numerous nominations, and quite frankly I fail to understand why. While I appreciated the aesthetic and the story Tarantino was trying to tell, this movie had no plot, little character development, no overall driving force, and few emotional scenes. Even the A-list actors in the movie were given very little to work with, and despite all of that they were given nominations. 

Margot Robbie, who had almost no lines in the entire movie and spent most of her screen time either dancing or driving, was given a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. While Robbie is an incredible actress in her other work, this particular performance of her as a nearly mute Sharon Tate was about as Oscar worthy as a Stan Lee cameo

The stories that deserve recognition were movies such as The Farewell, which was highly applauded at the Sundance movie festival. An indie film about a young Chinese-American immigrant dealing with the loss of her grandmother gave a brilliant and emotional performance from Awkwafina, and an incredible directorial debut from Lulu Wang. This was a movie that was emotional, funny, nuanced with culture, themes of heartbreak and family, and all while being thoroughly entertaining. Critics and audiences alike loved it, and it told a fresh story that hasn’t been said before. 

I’ve always heard actors and directors talk about why they make movies and why they love making movies, and they often say it’s because they want to tell stories that matter to people. 

Well, different movies matter to different people, and yes, for some people Once Upon a Time in Hollywood might have been the most important movie they have ever seen. But for others it was The Farewell or Hustlers, or all the other brilliant films made by minorities that were overlooked for nominations. 

The Academy passing over minorities for awards is a big deal, even though it may seem like it’s not. The reason for that, is because studios and producers watch the awards, and when it comes to green lighting scripts in the future, they’ll look to see if it has the potential to win an Oscar. If movies written by, and starring people of color are never nominated or never win, they’ll hardly ever be given the go ahead. 

Yes, diversity for the sake of diversity is wrong, and yes, nominations should be given without considering race and gender. But, can the members of the Academy really look at their list of nominations and say that the movies they chose were looked at from an unbiased view, one that didn’t weed out movies that were written by minorities? Because this is in no way the first year the Academy has faced this issue. 

Time and time again, the Academy awards fails to recognise films made by minorities, and it has very clearly become a pattern. It’s time to acknowledge that when an award show repeatedly passes over movies made by people of color and women for decades, there is an implicit bias at it’s very core.