The winning names have yet to be announced, and already the 91st Academy Awards are drowning in controversy. A “Popular Film” award was introduced, and promptly scrapped; there was a host, and now there’s not; we weren’t going to get to hear Jennifer Hudson sing and now, thankfully, we will; the show would be shorter, but at the expense of some of the most prestigious categories’ live airtime — until, facing of intense backlash, they reversed course. Again.
It’s hard not to get the sense that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is floundering, and it’s all especially disappointing given the quality of so many of the films released in the past year. This could have been the best Academy Awards ever. Instead, there’s a good chance that Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s sad 2011 performance will be inching up the list.
Still, to quote one of this year’s nominated characters, the show must go on. And so, rather than dwelling on the Academy’s past failings, like say, not recognising the achievements of a single woman director (sigh), let’s focus on the good stuff.
Maybe you were swept up by the tidal wave of passion in sweeping epics like A Star Is Born or Cold War, or found a new way to skewer your rivals by watching The Favourite. Can You Ever Forgive Me? taught us that con jobs can be elevated to high art, while Black Panther shattered all expectations of what a superhero movie can and should be. These are just some of the films nominated for Hollywood’s highest cinematic honours — and they prove that even if the Academy is a bust, movies are thriving.
Still, with 24 categories spanning all facets of the industry, it can all feel a little overwhelming. Which movies need to move up in your queue before 24th February? Should you have Kleenex prepared for a potentially devastating loss? How many times can you expect to see Lady Gaga reference 100 people in a room?