Collegian Picks: Who got snubbed at the Oscars?

Lauryn Bolz

Oscars season is upon us once again, meaning that, for this week, it is acceptable for us all to become the pretentious film nerds we can only hope to be while the rest of the year drags on. Don your bow tie, pretend you know what the term “cinéma vérité” means and enjoy The Collegian’s picks on who should have been included at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Lauryn Bolz:

I feel the Oscars gods did not give “Jojo Rabbit,” or its director, Taika Waititi, the recognition it deserved. Waititi’s newest comedy left me pulsating between hysterical laughter and profuse tears for the entirety of its hour and 48 minute run time. But the intense emotion this film inspired was not even its crowning achievement. Waititi poured every ounce of his ironic, comedic genius into this film, cultivating a stylistically beautiful and functional narrative that conveys a powerful message of world peace.


For this master curation of staging and tone, the “What We Do in the Shadows” director does not only deserve a nomination for best director, but I think he should win the category. This was the most tragic snub of the 2020 Oscars.

Scotty Powell:

Two words. Alfre. Woodard. The actress’s intense and moving performance in Chinonye Chukwu’s “Clemency” was one of the most fantastic displays of acting prowess I saw all year. It didn’t stick in the mind quite to the degree Renée Zellweger’s explosive turn as Judy Garland did, and it may not have been worthy of the final trophy, but certainly a nomination was in order.

Characters like the one Woodard plays in this film are some of the most difficult for any actor to portray. She is a stony-faced prison warden with a tortured interior that is not revealed to the audience until the very end of the film. Thus, the actor cannot rely on observation or visual cues to convey the emotional weight the character carries because the character’s actions hardly indicate anything at all. Instead, this weight must be contained within the actor’s own mind.

But Woodard is up to the challenge and executes the role with quiet poise and sharp intensity, a much more captivating performance than the ones delivered by many of the actresses who were nominated in her stead. Putting aside Saoirse Ronan, Zellweger and Cynthia Erivo, the performances delivered by Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story” and Charlize Theron in “Bombshell,” while admirable, do not showcase the kind of skill that would merit an Academy Award nomination. 

In fact, “Clemency” itself was snubbed across the board. Chukwu’s directing, while simple, was perfectly tuned to the story being told and should have landed her a spot in the best director race. It was a film that accomplished what it set out to accomplish with unfaltering intentionality and purpose, which is all a film needs to do in order to be effective and award-worthy.

Elena Waldman:

There are only a few memorable moments Adam Sandler has proven himself as an actor. These films are few and far between and only come at the hands of truly great directors. The first time Sandler proved himself was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love” almost 20 years ago. In 2019, the former comedian came back from his tragic string of crude comedies to the art-house genre.

Not that I believe in any kind of democratic electoral process, especially if it is done by an academy of elite snobs, but I will say I don’t necessarily believe Josh and Benny Safdie, professionally called the Safdie brothers, should have been nominated for best director. They are young and have a long career ahead of them, so perhaps this snub is good. Perhaps it will motivate them to make more dynamic and lucrative films as they move forward. But I do think Sandler’s name should be on the list for best actor.

Graham Shapley:

One of the most poignant films I’ve had the pleasure of watching in the last year was Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell.” The story carried cultural influences rarely seen in Western filmmaking, providing a unique point of view on life, death and the emotional weight of knowing what’s coming. 

The supporting cast of the film had some of the most brilliant subtle performances I think I’ve ever seen. If you get a chance to watch the film, pay attention to the facial expressions of the side characters — even those who don’t get many lines really get to show their acting chops.

In particular though, Awkwafina in the role of Billi and Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai portrayed a relationship across generations that feels familiar and realistic, and the fact neither even got a nod from the academy is a shame.


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