What’s missing from the Academy Awards?

The Arts and Entertainment Staff pitches four new categories to include in next year’s Oscars

ae-oscars-courtesyofwikimediacommons

The next Academy Awards broadcast could use a revamp in terms of categories.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

It’s true — the telecast of the Oscars is already long enough as is, with the most recent 91st Academy Awards taking over three hours to award all of the statuettes. But despite its exhaustive run-time, the Academy is still not hitting all of the marks when it comes to the categories they reward. Here, the Arts and Entertainment Staff has detailed four new, relevant and interesting honors for the Academy to consider adding into the next Oscars ceremony.

The Formerly Snubbed and Redeemed Award

The mistakes made by the Oscars over the years have caused them to slowly lose their credibility because they have the tendency present an Oscar incorrectly to an actor, actress or film that just didn’t earn it. Take the Academy’s decision this year to name “Green Book” the Best Picture when there were several better choices, such as “Black KkKlansman,” “Roma” or “The Favourite.” Even the overly glitzed and glamorized biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” would have been a better option to the white savior mess that ended up on top this season. 

That’s why the Academy should include a category every year that reverses a clearly problematic or wrong decision made in the past that becomes more obvious with the passage of time. Not only would this provide a redemptive moment for the recognized actor or film that was previously snubbed, but it would also show the public that the Oscars aren’t as stuffy and inaccessible as they seem. The Formerly Snubbed and Redeemed statuette would be awarded to Leonardo Dicaprio for his performance in “Wolf of Wall Street.” Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing” would also be given an award, especially since it didn’t even receive nomination at the 1990 Oscars. Consistent patterns like the erasure of Halle Berry’s achievements as an actress could also be considered. This category would also allow the stain of Harvey Weinstein and his pervasive influence on the Academy to be more clearly broadcasted in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

The new category would also address the general disenfranchisement within the awards — encouraging a sort of competitive spirit among those who have stopped making as many films. But first and foremost, it would force the Academy to admit its previous wrongs. This category would not be seen as a reductive consolation prize, but rather as the highest honor, since the Academy already has such a hard time owning up to their poor decisions. 

-Elliot Van Noy, Senior Associate Editor 

Best Newcomer

The Academy Awards rarely celebrates the accomplishments of actors who are fresh on the scene and even more rarely nominates child actors for the honor. The categories of Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role are particularly notorious for snubbing and robbing younger actors of their chance to grab a golden statuette, and one has to wonder, is it fair to pit 22-year-old Timothée Chalamet against the likes of 60-year-old Gary Oldman and 61-year-old Oscar-winning legend Daniel Day-Lewis? Surely the voters within the Academy are taking into account the potential a younger actor has for other nominations in his or her career, while having to grapple with the fact that some older actors may never get another opportunity. After all, prior to 2018, Oldman had never in his expansive career won the title of Best Actor at the Academy Awards, and Daniel Day-Lewis announced that “The Phantom Thread” would be his final movie. Who wouldn’t want to vote to make history?

The snub of 15-year-old “Eighth Grade” phenom Elsie Fisher is another perfect example of why this category is a necessity. IndieWire wrote that she “gave the most honest performance of 2018,” yet she was left without any nominations from the Academy. Actors don’t exist in a vacuum — being of a young age should serve as an impressive, celebrated context for the Academy and the public to consider. And while there’s no doubt that the aforementioned older nominees and winners deserve their accolades, the addition of a category like this would allow for further appreciation of up and coming artists, and would ensure that Hollywood reputation and age don’t completely overshadow brilliant performances by the under-30 crowd.

-Kate Granruth, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Best Actor Whose Previous Role Makes Their Current Portrayal Unconvincing

As a semi-retroactive award, the Best Actor Whose Previous Role Makes Their Current Portrayal Unconvincing would give the Academy the opportunity to recognize the distinguished acting of certain celebrities whose iconic roles have rendered them completely unmarketable in future endeavors. No longer must Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood endure comments about ineffectual performances without an award in hand to prove that the franchise life was all worth it. Nominees for the 91st Academy Awards include Sterling K. Brown as N’Jobu in “Black Panther” — recognizable only as Randall Pearson in “This is Us” — and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary Queen of Scots” — a role perhaps more similar than different from that of Tonya Harding in “I, Tonya.” 

However, Adam Driver would ultimately take the Oscar for his work in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” as Philip “Flip” Zimmerman, a Jewish detective whose undercover work in the Ku Klux Klan makes audiences question whether Kylo Ren is really on the Dark Side of the Force. Sadly, Driver didn’t outfit the Colorado Springs Police Department with lightsabers as extraordinary as that of his “Star Wars” character — perhaps Kylo Ren could go undercover instead, much like in the Saturday Night Live sketch “Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base”? Future nominations in this category could include any role Lady Gaga takes on after portraying Ally Maine in “A Star is Born” this year. Of course, Helena Bonham Carter must be permanently banned from receiving this commendation, as her work in the “Harry Potter” series, “Les Misérables” and “Ocean’s 8” makes her barely recognizable as her own person.  

-Ananya Suram, Staff Writer

Best Soundtrack

The Academy has handed out awards for Best Original Song since 1934 and Best Score — in some form or another — since 1935. Sound is a priority for the Oscars, as sound engineers are honored in two categories barely anyone — including the people voting — know the difference between. The telecast also depends on performances by the nominees in the Best Original Song category to provide entertaining pockets of art between the shuffle of technical awards, to varying degrees of success. But for years, the Academy Awards have been dipping in ratings and faced criticism for being an excessive slog towards the end of the night. 

The antidote to the sonic troubles the Oscars face is a new award — Best Soundtrack. Unlike Best Original Score, which focuses on new compositions for films, and Best Original Song, which too often consists of a clear winner and four songs no one has ever heard, Best Soundtrack would honor the curation of existing and new tunes to create a musical experience. By nominating soundtracks as a whole, the Academy could be more selective about performances during the show while expanding the types of artistry and expression honored with awards. 

The first thing that comes to mind is the possibility to honor movie musicals, which draw on existing music and thus are generally ineligible in the Best Original Song category. “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” would get the nom here. The award could also honor the curated sound of films elevated by music — past work from directors like Wes Anderson (“Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Royal Tenenbaums”), Amy Heckerling (“Clueless,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) and the Coen Brothers (“O Brother Where Art Thou”) stand out for their full albums of killer tracks. This year, the standouts come from a mixture of popular movies (“Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By”), new Twitter-cult obsessions (“A Star is Born”) and animated features (“Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse”). 

-Robin Schwartzkopf, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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