OPINION: Justice underserved at film awards

Progress was made but we shouldn’t stop demanding more



The 2019-2020 awards season failed to nominate many deserving black and female filmmakers, which is representative of greater issues within the industry.

ANNIKA ZEIGLER, Evergreen columnist

The 2019-2020 film awards season has come to an end, so it’s only fair we look at it in review.

The season, peppered with political speeches like Patricia Arquette’s, also saw justice for actors who have historically been snubbed (I’m looking at you, Renee Zellweger).

In December 2019, the Gotham Independent Film Awards aired as one of the first major shows of the season. “Marriage Story” swept the floor, winning Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and the Audience Award, which is selected by the attendees.

The show also gave credit to nominees that went relatively unnoticed at other presentations, such as their choice to nominate Florence Pugh’s “Midsommar” performance for Best Actress.

The Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards were January’s most prominent shows. Ricky Gervais’s controversial Golden Globes opening monologue on Hollywood hypocrisy that went viral (and made Tom Hanks raise his eyebrows) was easily one of the most notable moments of the night.

The Golden Globes themselves would go on to be almost the same as every other award show this season. “Marriage Story” again received multiple nominations and critically popular films like “1917” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won their expected awards.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards mostly kept up this trend with similar films receiving similar accolades. The exception would be “Avengers: Endgame,” which surprised everyone by beating “Ford vs Ferrari” in the Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture category.

February saw some of the most major award ceremonies: the British Academy Film Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and of course, the Academy Awards.

The BAFTAs largely mimicked similar trends to the Golden Globes and SAG awards, with the exception of Mark Jenkin’s film “Bait” receiving its only wins of the season for Best Producer and Outstanding Directorial Debut. Multiple actors at the BAFTAs, such as Joaquin Phoenix and Rebel Wilson, gave speeches condemning white privilege in Hollywood.

The Independent Spirit Awards came next, surprisingly awarding Adam Sandler’s chaotic performance in “Uncut Gems” with Best Male Lead. The Safdie brothers won Best Director for their role in the same film. These were the only two awards “Uncut Gems” won this season.

Taika Waititi became the first Maori filmmaker to win an Oscar for his film “Jojo Rabbit,” a triumph for New Zealand natives. Zack Gottsagen became the first individual with Down Syndrome to present at the Oscars.

Billie Eilish gave a touching performance of “Yesterday” by the Beatles, and Eminem later took the audience by storm with his unexpected performance of “Lose Yourself.”

The night ended with uproarious applause as “Parasite” became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture.

Director Bong Joon-Ho celebrated this and multiple other wins in an unusual way – by making his Oscars kiss. Joon-Ho’s translator, Sharon Choi, garnered a lot of internet attention for her quick translations and endearing personality.

The 2019-2020 awards season failed to nominate many deserving black and female filmmakers, which is representative of greater issues within the industry.

“Waves,” “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and “Us” went unrecognized despite their high quality. “Peanut Butter Falcon” and “The Farewell” were similarly extraordinary films that received no Oscar nominations.

The season wasn’t ideal, but we can hope that the outrage at #OscarsSoWhite will lead to reflection for the Academy in the future. Until then, I’m going to be reliving all the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston moments.