New Orleans

Oscar Omissions: Crowd-Pleasers Shafted Again

Academy voters show little love for popular flicks like “Girls Trip,” “Wonder Woman” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

At the end of last year’s Academy Awards, “Bonnie and Clyde” legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway nearly stole the show by mistakenly giving the Best Picture trophy to “La La Land,” instead of to the true winner, “Moonlight.”

On Tuesday, “Girls Trip” standout Tiffany Haddish and “Planet of the Apes” star Andy Serkis read the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards without incident – but they were the ones who got robbed.

The slate of contenders arrived with omissions bound to spur new cries of Oscar snobbery from fans of popular, quality movies.

Take the snubbing of Haddish, a scene stealer – with and without assistance from a grapefruit – in “Girls Trip.” The flick about four longtime pals’ jaunt to New Orleans earned big laughs and bigger box office, becoming the first movie written by a black woman (Tracy Oliver) to surpass the $100 million mark.

The exclusion of Haddish from the list of nominees hit a 2018 Hollywood-public-divide trifecta: a funny moneymaker fueled by women.

The top three box office hits of 2017 – “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Women” – all featured prominent female characters. But none, even amid the Time’s Up/#MeToo movement, notched any major nominations. (“Lady Bird,” which scored five, including a Best Director nod for Greta Gerwig, is a great movie that’s yet to takeoff at the box office.)

The Academy also doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. Melissa McCarthy snared a Best Supporting Actress nomination in 2012 for her wild turn in “Bridesmaids,” sparking similar hope for Haddish fans.

But only two Best Picture winners of the last two decades even approached the comedy genre – "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and "The Artist" (2011) are marginal laughers at best.

Sure, deserving Best Picture nominee “Get Out,” a racial drama clothed in an old-school horror movie, spurred some uneasy chuckles. But the film’s writer and director Jordan Peele led the mockery when the Golden Globes miscategorized the box office hit as a comedy.

Meanwhile, Academy Award voters gave only a screenplay nomination to "The Big Sick," Kumail Nanjiani's romantic comedy, which recalls past Best Picture winners "Annie Hall" and "Terms of Endearment." But "The Big Sick," which managed to mine laughs out of illness and cultural pressures, emerged above all as an original comedy. 

There are few more original – and underappreciated – performers than Serkis, who completed his three-film run as simian leader Caesar with the chilling “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which grossed more than $145 million.  The actor, who transformed the art of CGI-aided performance beginning with his stint as Golem in "The Lord of the Rings" films, has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the industry – he gets no respect, at least not from Oscar voters.

His latest absence from the nominees slate marks another sign of the Academy being out of touch with the average moviegoer – and a sign of the disrespect that stings fans most at Oscars time.  

Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us