Every year cinema fans get excited for the release of the nominations for the Oscars, and every year there’s a large group of people who complain about how certain movies got snubbed from the nominations. It’s almost impossible to include every great film of the year, especially considering 2020 was a stacked year for movies. The Academy does its best, but they are known for making mistakes, and this year was no different. The Academy occasionally misses out on fan favorites, a diverse pool, and filmmakers who flat-out worked their butts off. The Oscars can’t please everyone, but there’s no question that there were some big snubs at the 92nd Academy Awards. Here are the top 5 biggest snubs at the 2020 Oscars.
5. Eighth Grade– Best Original Screenplay
Eighth Grade is an A24 film written and directed by Youtube star and comedian Bo Burnham. Burnham’s first feature-length film follows Kayla Day, an introverted teenager attempting to survive her last week of middle school before graduating to the bigger and scarier halls of the high school. There are plenty of movies out there that portray middle school awkwardness and uncomfortableness, but there’s something unique about Eighth Grade that sets it apart from similar films. Eighth Grade is the most realistic portrayal of how middle school life is. It never tries to force the awkwardness, though it simply provides it naturally. The film never feels cliche, unlike every other pre-tween movies out there. It takes bits and pieces of those teenage tendencies, but it throws it in with natural, human-like feelings that anyone of any age can relate to. It takes middle school problems and applies it to everyone, and that’s what sets it apart from other films of a similar genre.
Burnham describes that the feeling of uneasiness and anxiety that he still gets as a grown-up is best represented through middle schoolers. Burnham depicts the anxiety that he feels as a grown-up and simplifies it by showing the most uncomfortable stages of most peoples’ lives. The screenplay is a strong, theme-driven story that nails its point on the head with every brilliant scene in the film. Burnham does a fantastic job of developing the main character and growing her as a human. The bonfire scene at the end between Kayla and her dad discussing failure and growth knocks it out of the park with a climactic ending. I look forward to seeing how Bo Burnham progresses as a screenwriter. Maybe he’ll get a bid from the Academy someday.
4. Honey Boy– Best Original Screenplay
Honey Boy, the film was written by Shia Labeouf, is an adaptation of Shia’s life while he was a child actor working on Even Stevens. The movie parallels back and forth between a younger Otis (a character based on Shia) working as a child actor and an adult Otis, shortly after he has been arrested and sent to therapy. Adult Otis practices working through traumatic pain of his childhood by reliving the memories with his alcoholic father (played by Shia Labeouf). The best scenes come from a younger Otis working as an actor thrown into the adult world while just a twelve-year-old. Otis is paying his father to be his manager while his father bullies, screams, and throws temper-tantrums around the set. The father is extremely jealous of his own son’s success while he has to work as a rodeo clown. Otis yearns and dreams for his father’s love, but instead, lives in fear of growing to become just like him. Despite being treated terribly, he clings to his father while attempting to love and idolize him.
Shia is excellent at creating sharp parallels between young and old Otis. Otis’s father wants to teach him to escape from his hereditary line of alcoholics while older Otis learns in rehab that it is better to embrace the past rather than escape from it. Shia creates a brave and honest Screenplay that puts all his emotions on the table. It never feels like a forced redemption story. Labeouf shows his growth as a person and as a filmmaker by having the courage to portray in script and performance form. Shia missed out on the Golden Globes and Oscars while fellow actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Gerard Butler expressed their love for it. I thought Labeouf wrote a good enough Screenplay and added an excellent performance to create enough Oscar buzz for either category, but sadly, he came up short. “How do you think that feels…”
3. US– Best Actress in a Leading Role
Us was the highly anticipated horror film by Jordan Peele that came out in early 2019. The film is about a family’s surreal beach vacation when their doppelgangers show up to terrorize them. It is difficult to follow up a masterpiece like Get Out, but Jordan Peele brings to a life an equally creative and original story. It was hard to believe that this film was released in 2019 because it felt like such a long time ago. It often gets forgotten behind all the other movies released in 2019, but it was disappointing that this movie didn’t make an appearance at the Oscars. Lupita Nyong’o played both Adelaide and Red, the tethered version of the main character. Playing the protagonist and the villain at once is no easy feat, but Lupita completely stole the show, especially with her haunting performance as Red. Lupita was inspired by a condition called “Spasmodic Dysphonia,” a real-life condition stemmed from a trauma that creates an irregular flow of air in your vocal cords. According to Peele, the cast was stunned the first time they heard Red’s voice. The set got so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. The preparation that has to be done day-to-day when switching from the protagonist to antagonist is sure to be exhausting and tedious, but it sure did result in a riveting performance.
The voice that Lupita uses for Red adds so much depth to the character. You understand her pain and struggle from her very first scene. When the big twist was finally revealed at the end, the understanding of the voice adds an even deeper connection to the character. It was upsetting that the Academy didn’t recognize Us in any category considering they’ve been known to ignore a more diverse pool of candidates. The Oscars have been getting more diverse lately with nominations like Moonlight, Call Me by Your Name, The Shape of Water, and Black Panther; however, there’s still plenty of room to grow. What Lupita did with her character was a completely original vision to an African American character in a world where only struggling African-American characters get recognized by the Oscars. Despite not getting any nominations, Red will surely haunt viewers for a long time.
2. Uncut Gems– Best Actor in a Leading Role
Who would’ve thought that Adam Sandler would make it on a list dedicated to Oscar snubs? Not me… Adam Sandler shocks the world with an amazing performance as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems. Sandler plays a hectic New York jeweler who relies on that one more gamble in hopes of hitting it big as his life is crashing down on him. Sandler called it the highlight of his career when Daniel Day-Lewis called the 53-year-old actor just to praise him. It truly was a shocking surprise to watch Sandler give a performance of a lifetime in the Safdie brother-directed crime thriller. Despite Sandler’s character, Howard, being an absolute mess, we still cheer for him throughout the entire film. Sandler gives an over the top, surreal, goofy performance thrown in with a great amount of charm. He steals the hearts of the audience with his dumb, stupid grin. He was perfect for the role and I’d love to see him in other serious, chaotic movies. Sandler said that if he didn’t get a nomination from the Oscars he’ll “create a film so bad on purpose.” Welp… Looks like we are getting more of Jack and Jill.
Sandler’s past performances and films surely got in the way of his nominations. One judge from the Academy admitted to having some bias towards Sandler because he’s used to Sandler acting like a man-child for laughs. The leading actor category this year was loaded and it was hard to fit him in. In my opinion though, he deserved it. I give him bonus points for being a comedic actor for his entire career and then pulling out a chilling yet charming performance from his sleeve. It was a surprise that Uncut Gems didn’t get nominated for anything at the 2020 Oscars considering it was a pretty big success at the box office. Maybe the film didn’t reach a broad enough audience, but either way, Sandler’s performance was something I’ll never forget. “I disagree.”
1. The Florida Project– Best Picture
The Florida Project got screwed. It’s that simple. With a 92 Metascore rating, the film follows a mischievous 6 year-old Moonee living with her rebellious mother in a crummy motel just outside Disney World. Moonee and her mother, Halley, are living in poverty and on the brink of homelessness, struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The film is told through the eyes of the 6 year-old, focusing on how a child sees the slums and can make it her playground. The movie doesn’t have your normal three act structure. The film indirectly tells its message through the eyes of Moonee, who’s childlike behavior is naturally blocking out the harsh reality. The entire story is told in the background of the main character. The director, Sean Baker, does a brilliant job at putting the audience in the perspective of the children with low angle shots, making the world seem so big, exactly how children see it.
The film is so bright and colorful, resembling nearby Disney World even though their reality is so far off from the happiest place on earth. It might as well be Disney World for Moonee. Halley and Moonee have a sister-like relationship more than a mother/daughter dynamic. Halley is a reflection of Moonee because we can’t help but feel like Moonee is going to grow up exactly like her chaotic, child-like mother. They represent a cycle of hardships that would continue for generations unless something happens with Moonee. The most depressing moments are played through the background while Moonee ignores actuality. It perfectly displays beautiful child-like innocence in such a genuine way. The acting performances are incredible. Brooklyn Prince is wonderful as Moonee. She is one of the best child actors I’ve ever witness. Her final scene is a depressing, yet a breath-taking achievement. William Dafoe makes you fall in love with his character playing the hotel manager, Bobby. The Florida Project was one of the best movies of the year in 2019, and it’s a travesty the film didn’t get any nominations at the Oscars. Shame on you Academy! Shame on you!
The hardest part about discussing Oscar snubs is figuring out which nominations should be replaced. I’ll never try and replace a certain bid with another considering that there were so many amazing films in 2019. It’s always a shame when deserving movies don’t get recognized. Maybe the Oscars could create a larger pool of nominees so that they make sure no fantastic piece of work gets left out. That’s a nearly impossible decision because no matter what, there will always be Oscar snubs. The most important thing we can do is make sure these movies are celebrated by understanding the cultural impact they still have without winning any awards.