I Want To Believe ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Has the Power To Change the Oscars Moving Forward
It's time for the Academy to open themselves up to the possibilities.
Everything Everywhere All At Once winning in multiple major Oscar categories is a powerful moment in cinema and awards history. However, will this create lasting change for the Oscars?
We’ve already explored the many ways EEAAO has broken ground, including that unless a “genre” film (a phrase meant to denote speculative fiction) was an adaptation of the books that literally invented modern high fantasy or were a Dark Fairytale created by Guillermo Del Toro, it had basically no shot at the Best Picture Award.
The Academy is notoriously secretive in who they invite to become members but every cast and crew member from EEAAO who was nominated for an Oscar is reportedly up for consideration for future Academy Awards voting privileges. That—along with a recent push to expand and diversify the pool of voters—may serve to help close the gap in representation. But it’s also only the start.
I don’t want to get my hopes up that the overwhelming celebration of this one film will change the awards industry moving forward, but I also don’t want to be defeatist; EEAAO was a life-changing movie for me and so many others, and seeing it get all the awards and accolades it deserves is truly something special.
But I feel like we need to fight to keep up this momentum and maintain the energy of telling important speculative stories that speak to a wide range of experiences.
How could we open up the minds of Academy members to give genre films the respect they deserve? Here are a few ideas.
1. Allow for more nominations in all categories
The simple fact of the matter is that the Oscars are only a fraction of the most incredible performances and/or works of the year. If the Academy is going to represent the cream of the crop, then they shouldn’t try to fit the number of nominations into an easy number. It doesn’t matter if there were 5 great films or 15 great films, if they are being called the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ by a large group of people, then they should at least be nominated.
When the 2010 Oscars changed the number of Best Picture Nominations from 5 to 10, we got way more diversity in the movies that were up for the award, from District 9 to Avatar to UP in the first year alone.
Adding more nominations could also allow more POC and WOC could be nominated. It was only on Sunday that the first woman of color to earn an Oscar in a leading role (Halle Berry) awarded the second woman of color to earn an Oscar in a leading role (Michelle Yeoh). That moment was magical, but it also showed how incremental the Academy’s change has been.
2. Require all voters to watch all the movies!
There’s also the issue that some voters will just skip certain movies if they don’t want to spend the time watching them. To which I say: you are a member of one of the most exclusive and privileged groups in entertainment. The least you could do is wield that power responsibly and give everyone who has earned a nomination your time.
3. Create new categories
Film is an artform that is constantly evolving and the awards should reflect that. I know the idea of the best “popular” movie genre was seen as a cop out by many, but also consider what the category of Best Animated Feature Film has done for animation. Where before, animated movies were usually only honored for their music, the creation of the Best Animated Feature Film category likely contributed to some movies receiving nominations for Best Adapted and Best Original Screenplay.
It was also a “genre” horror film—An American Werewolf in London—that was largely responsible for the creation of the Best Makeup category.
4. Relax some categories’ restrictions
The Foreign Film Award has been a major source of Oscars controversy for decades with the implication that foreign films are by some virtue not as good or should be considered separate from American films. Even changing the category to foreign language films has excluded some foreign films that were produced in English.
Imagine a world where the Academy had chosen not to nominate Parasite for Best Picture because it was already nominated for Best International Feature Film.
5. Create more competition for the Oscars
If we’re going to claim to make art in the free market, then there should be more competition when it comes to awards shows too. Obviously, I doubt anyone’s ever going to be able to beat the name-brand Oscars. They’ve been around since the first movies with dialogue. However, I’ve seen excellent arguments for award shows that are based more on specific genres and specialties.
The YouTube channel Dead Meat specifically created their horror awards to honor the horror movies they feel often get overlooked by major award shows. As an enjoyer of horror, I appreciate this as I’m not sure I would trust the Academy and its members to open their minds to the taboo explorations of horror.
What changes would you make to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts to make the Oscars more diverse and well-rounded? Comment below!
(featured image: A24)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]