There’s a Reason Why ‘RRR’ Wasn’t Nominated for Best International Film at the Oscars
The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards were announced on January 24 and, as always, featured several surprises and snubs. However, one outcome was so unexpected that it even prompted an investigation and review of Oscar guidelines: Andrea Riseborough’s surprise nomination for Best Actress for her role in the low-budget film To Leslie. While the Academy ultimately opted to keep her nomination, it was the direct celebrity campaigning for the actress that sparked concern about the voting process.
Riseborough’s nomination also raised eyebrows when actresses like Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were shockingly missing from the Best Actress category. Davis’ role in The Woman King and Deadwyler’s role in Till were considered Oscar-worthy performances, and many questioned if at least one of them would’ve taken that place had it not been for the Riseborough campaign. Oscar snubs like those understandably spark debate. However, on occasion, an omission may be mistaken for a snub when it’s actually just a result of Oscar guidelines. This is what happened with the hit Indian film RRR.
The Indian Telugu-language drama RRR has received acclaim from critics and audiences alike for its direction, writing, performances, and soundtrack. Although, while it is a very well-made action film, it’s worth mentioning that some have raised concerns about its political implications in India’s current political climate. However, since most Americans will miss the political undertones of the film (and it’s not like American films aren’t guilty of political problems of their own), it has been making the rounds at awards shows, nabbing the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. So, why was RRR missing from the Oscars Best International Feature Film nominations?
How international films are nominated for the Oscars
As questions arose about how the Oscars could snub RRR, one TikTok user came forward to point out that it wasn’t possible for the film to receive a nomination in the Best International Film category. This is because, per the Academy guidelines, each country can only submit one film for consideration for the award. This is also why the award technically goes to the country that submitted the film. While the director of the film will accept the award, their names aren’t listed on the nomination alongside the movie title; instead, the country that produced the film is listed.
Like other countries, India had the opportunity to submit one film for consideration for the Best International Film award. India opted to submit Chhello Show, which translates to Last Film Show, for consideration instead of RRR. While some were surprised that the Film Federation of India chose Chhello Show over RRR, it ultimately was India’s decision and not that of the Academy. Plus, Chhello Show proved to be a strong contender and was shortlisted for the award, though ultimately not nominated.
In addition to submitting one film for Best International Film consideration, countries are permitted to also submit their international films for other award categories, including Best Picture. This is why RRR received a nomination for Best Song despite not being entered for Best International Film.
Bias in international film consideration
While the Academy Awards didn’t snub RRR, bias can still sneak into the process. Since the countries are able to choose submissions based on their own rules, there are concerns that personal bias and political agenda can skew which films ultimately get a chance and which ones don’t. This is a significant issue in countries like China, where censorship is heavy and any film not adhering to the ideals of the CCP will not be considered. There have also been concerns about personal connections and popularity factoring into a country’s consideration.
However, there is bias in the Academy Awards, too. This bias is apparent in the mere fact that a Best International Film category exists. If the Academy fairly considered non-English language films, they wouldn’t have to be separated from other awards categories and limited to one film submission per country. There have been further indications of the Oscars’ bias toward anglophone films, such as how, up until three years ago, a non-English language film had never been honored with the award for Best Picture (that honor went to Parasite). Meanwhile, the same is true for other categories, too. Top-notch performances from actors in international films also frequently get snubbed. The Academy’s history and its separation and limitation of entries for films from other countries show a lack of consideration for international films.
(featured image: Tim Boyle, Getty Images)
Update February 9, 2023: Wording has been adjusted for sensitivity and clarity around those who have raised political issues with the film.
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