Oscar nominations split viewers

Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer in “Oppenheimer” directed by Christopher Nolan. The film was nominated for 13 Oscars, including a Best Actor nomination for Murphy and a Best Director nomination for Nolan. // Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Last Tuesday, Jan. 23, actress Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”) and actor Jack Quaid (“The Boys”) announced the highly anticipated nominees for the 96th Academy Awards.

With a staggering number of critically acclaimed movies released from large studios and independent distributors, this year’s competition has been hotly contested. “Oppenheimer” leads the nominees with 13 total nominations, one in almost every major category besides Best Actress in a Leading Role. 

“Poor Things” follows with 11 nominations, mirroring “Oppenheimer” with nominations in all major categories besides Best Actor in a Leading Role.

However, the nominations did not come without controversy. “Barbie” was surprisingly shut out of two major categories: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Margot Robbie and Best Director for Greta Gerwig. 

Fans found the snubs especially surprising, considering Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera received nominations for supporting actor awards, and the film received eight total Oscar nominations. Despite being the highest-grossing movie of the year, the awards season has been rough for “Barbie,” with it consistently collecting nominations but never winning any big-ticket awards. 

While the industry’s love for “Barbie” seems to have dimmed, appreciation for smaller films such as “The Holdovers” and “American Fiction” has grown. Despite low box office numbers, these mid-budget films have become awards darlings, garnering more awards than supposed heavy hitters with larger campaigning budgets like “Barbie” and “Maestro.”

However, The Academy also overlooked several performances consistently recognized in other awards shows. In particular, Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon” did not receive a nomination for  Best Actor in a Leading Role despite DiCaprio’s supposed status as a shoo-in at the Academy Awards. 

Charles Melton’s powerful performance in “May December” was also passed over. Some critically acclaimed releases were completely shut out from nominations, including “Priscilla,” “BlackBerry” and “The Iron Claw.” 

This year’s nominees continue the Academy’s trend of listening more to viewers, nominating more diverse films featuring different perspectives on storytelling from both Hollywood mainstays and new faces. 

Long-time Oscar favorite Martin Scorsese was nominated for Best Director, but so was French filmmaker Justine Triet for “Anatomy of a Fall.” Even in the Best Picture category, films from Christopher Nolan and Bradley Cooper stood alongside two films made outside the United States. 

There were also several historically significant nominations this year, with Lily Gladstone becoming the first Native American woman to be nominated for Best Actress. This is also the first time in history that three of the Best Picture nominees, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” and Celine Song’s “Past Lives” were directed by women.  

It will be exciting to see the winners of this year’s awards, boosting the profile of writers, directors and actors who can continue making great work in the future. The award show will be held on Mar. 10 in the Dolby Theater and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the fourth time in its history.