As the dust settled at the end of this crazy week at work, I finally got to sit down and look at the list of nominees for Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.
I’m happy with some of the big nominations. Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant were two of my favorite films of the year (of the Best Picture nominees, I hope Mad Max wins). I also enjoyed Bridge of Spies, Creed, and The Big Short.
I hope Amy wins for Best Documentary Feature.
I wish that Ex Machina got nominated for something more than a small award.
Moving on to OUTRIGHT SNUBS, Straight Outta Compton, another of my favorite films of 2015, deserved a Best Picture nomination, in my opinion. I also believe that Straight Outta Compton is worthy of a Best Director nomination, and why Jason Mitchell didn’t get nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Eazy-E is beyond me.
But the main questions in my head as I read the list of Oscar nominees were:
1). Why wasn’t Idris Elba nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Beasts of No Nation?
2). Why wasn’t Abraham Attah nominated for Best Actor for Beasts of No Nation?
3). Why wasn’t Beasts of No Nation nominated for Best Picture?
4). Why wasn’t Cary Joji Fukunaga nominated for Best Director for Beasts of No Nation?
5). Why wasn’t Beasts of No Nation nominated for Best Costume Design?
6). Why wasn’t Beasts of No Nation nominated for Best Cinematography?
7). Why wasn’t Beasts of No Nation nominated for Best Original Score?
(“A Song for Strika”)
At least Straight Outta Compton received a nomination for Best Writing – Original Screenplay. Beasts of No Nation received ZERO Oscar nominations. It was completely left out of the competition, and I’m incredulous. Who, exactly, is responsible for deciding what constitutes art in cinema?
Idris Elba’s searing performance as Commandant should be recognized. And young Abraham Attah? His performance as Agu hurt my heart so profoundly, I’m unable to shake the memory of it, or the pain I felt when I witnessed it.
That’s how Beasts of No Nation made me feel: Like a witness. Not a movie-goer, an audience member, an entertainment seeker. A witness. That is what good art can do. It can put us in the picture, in the moment, make us see and feel things we don’t necessarily want to see or feel; it can unflinchingly cast light on the abominable, because we need to see it. We need to acknowledge it.
A part of the brilliance of Beasts of No Nation is that somehow, overall, it manages to be poetic. Maybe at the end I was too emotionally spent to see it, but thinking back on it now that I’ve processed the film as a whole, the imagery in that last scene was poetry… and it was beautiful.
My personal feelings aside, Beasts of No Nation is next-level outstanding in every respect of film-making, and for it to have been excluded from the Academy Awards is a gross oversight. A colossal oversight. I would go so far as to say that it seems like a deliberate oversight, because anyone with eyes and a heart can see that it’s a masterpiece, and the movie-nominating people have eyes and hearts, do they not?
Idris Elba’s and Abraham Attah’s performances are performances that deserve Academy Award recognition.
Beasts of No Nation is difficult to watch, for sure, as I’ve said before. But art’s intention isn’t solely to entertain us. Good art in all of its genres makes us feel things, including real despair for real-life realities.
How is it that The Martian received a nomination for Best Picture, while Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton did not?
Two of my favorite movies of the year – both of which I thought were objectively stellar – were snubbed, and I can’t fathom why. I could go on and on about Beasts of No Nation, but there’s no need. I wrote a lot more about it after I saw it, so click here if you’re interested in reading that.
I’m actually so disappointed about the omissions on the list of Oscar nominees that I’m not even sure I want to watch the Academy Awards this year.