By: Daniel Reynolds
The 89th Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday morning, which means we’ve had over 24 hours to sit with the news. Feeling angry yet? If not, you soon will. Because it’s time for the latest edition of the Oscar Nomination Outrage Scale (or ONOS; pronounced, as always as O NOOOOOOOS). We take rage pretty seriously around here.
This year, in a positive move, the Academy took steps to redress the structural imbalance built into its very bones. For too long their membership has been far too white, still too male, and generally skewing old. With outrage continuing to grow year over year at slates of all-white nominees (particularly in the technical categories which lean mostly towards men too), something had to be done. This year marks a step in that direction with a nod towards more diversity in both race and gender across all categories. Still, something insidious lurks within the nominations.
Point blank: the Academy needs to stop losing its collective mind over films that celebrate filmmaking and chasing your dreams in Hollywood. Holy shit, I am extremely mad about this. And with great outrage…
Wait. Before I get carried away, let’s go on a quick walkthrough as to what exactly the ONOS is. From the debut year:
The ONOS is based on a very scientific 20-point gradient. The scale is broken down into four categories, each with its own mini 5-point scale. You still with me? We grade the nominations on each 5-point scale, add up the values to get a total out of 20, and this determines the requisite amount of outrage we should (re: need to) produce. What are the four categories? Read on:
Merit: The definite starting point. Does the nomination make sense? Was the work done of a significant quality to be recognized? A low ranking here means a good performance, a high ranking means: outrageous! This is both the most obvious and, therefore, least important consideration.
Novelty: This applies more to the performance Oscars, but it can still be considered for other categories. e.g. First time director? Period piece costumes? Song by big name artist? Dead nominee?
Past History: This one rears its ugly head any time someone has been nominated more than a few times. There are records to be considered and a certain narrative, rightly or wrongly, emerges. We hate this.
Politics: The most insider-y of the rankings. This is where we consider the background machinations of the Academy itself. Who is campaigning the most, what is the overall show tone the organization is striving for this year, how prominent is Harvey Weinstein, etc.
All caught up? Great. Let’s let loose some outrage.
Best Production Design – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena, Passengers
Merit: 4. Ooooh, the space ship is so shiny, and look at that suit they got on robo-Michael Sheen, and wow it totally doesn’t look like something we’ve seen one million times before.
Novelty: 3. Instead of skewing period piece the Academy is now course-correcting to skew sci-fi? I don’t buy it.
History: 1. These two have both been nominated before (for Inception and Her) and since I like those movies, they get a pass.
Politics: 1. Hard to get too heated about that here, unless you believe there really is some conspiracy against Martin Scorsese’s Silence and his films in general.
Total: 9 – Through gritted teeth, accept the decision.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson, Suicide Squad
Merit: 5. No way is Suicide Squad deserving of anything, let’s be real.
Novelty: 5. Yeah, yeah, they’ve got a Joker in there, and Deadshot, and look at the tattoos on that one guy.
History: 1. First timers, past work checks out. I can’t stay mad.
Politics: 2. There’s something about including a weak-ass comic book movie that rankles me a bit. I understand shoehorning blockbusters into the show, but did it really have to be this “blockbuster”?
Total: 13 – Do a little dance, an angry one.
Best Actor – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Merit: 0. His talent and the quality of the performance are obvious.
Novelty: 1. Something of a throwback performance, in a way. Manchester by the Sea is almost old-fashioned in its small-scale and weepy focus. That’s very much the jam here.
History: 3. Some stirrings of anger here, not because Affleck isn’t a great (and overlooked!) actor but, well, because of the next bit…
Politics: 5. Turns out Affleck is a real shithead. The performance is what it is (great), but we don’t necessarily have to honour it.
Total: 9 – Angrily shake your head in dismay.
Best Actress – Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Merit: 5. Seriously, what the hell is this? Do Annette Bening and Amy Adams (the latter of which carried her film) not exist? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
Novelty: 5. There is no doubt many enjoy the idea of Streep as a 20-time nominee. That’s a nice round number.
History: 5. Might have to rename this entire project the “Angry at Meryl Streep Nominations.” Good lord.
Politics: 5. Do you… do you think maybe the Academy likes the idea of Streep being in and around the broadcast? Maybe even the idea of getting her up on stage to talk about a certain U.S. President? Hmmmm.
Total: 20 – ScannersExplodingHead.gif
Best Director – Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Merit: 2. As is the annual tradition, there’s usually one or two films I haven’t seen that are in the mix. Hacksaw Ridge is one such film, so I’ll just keep the anger on the low burner here.
Novelty: 4. You think there are people out there who enjoy the Mel Gibson Reclamation Project? If so, why do they exist?
History: 4. I’ll say this for Gibson, he’s been in and around the Oscars for sometime now, and once ran the whole show (shouts to Braveheart, hugely overrated).
Politics: 5. Uh, Gibson is also a shithead. I don’t even have to put a link here. You already know.
Total: 15 – Put your fingers in your ears and head-bang wildly.
Best Picture – Hacksaw Ridge
Merit: 3. I’ve bumped up the anger here because, really, why do we need another World War II movie? Even assuming it’s good, who is this for?
Novelty: 4. Oh I see, the red states apparently need entertainment too. And it apparently needs to be violent and appreciative of war heroes, even non-violent ones. Right, right.
History: 4. Gibson was once on top of the world, and apparently the Academy loves a good comeback story. It’s the rich-ass white guy who makes good. Wow, I’m touched.
Politics: 5. See Novelty. But also: why why why why is Mel Gibson back in the picture? Listening to him talk nowadays sets my teeth on edge. He’s immensely charismatic and slick, which makes his obvious rage, boiling just below the surface, all the more palpable.
Total: 16 – Maybe toss a few things around.
Phew, everything out of your system? Good. We made it all the way through without trashing La La Land. Such restraint. Now we just have to wait until February 26th to see who the Oscar winners will be this year. It’s very likely most of these above nominees will not win, which I suppose is something of a relief.
But then again, outrage never rests. The cycle will begin again. Better rest up.