What Oppenheimer’s Oscar Wins Say About The Current State Of The Academy


For starters, we’ll never know what the vote tally for “Oppenheimer” looked like demographically because AMPAS understandably does not reveal who voted for what. I do think they could make the competition more interesting to the general public if they released vote totals, but the leadership has consistently resisted this.

Most of these wins were foregone conclusions when “Oppenheimer” hit theaters in July. There was a glimmer of hope at the time that the Barbenheimer phenomenon would lead to a heated awards competition between the two vastly different movies, but Greta Gerwig’s very funny and beautifully crafted film just couldn’t get significant prestige traction over the last few months. When Gerwig and Margot Robbie failed to make the final five for, respectively, Best Director and Best Actress, that was all she wrote for “Barbie” in the main categories.

Once again, the Academy demonstrated its tiresome preference for seriousness over fun (though “Barbie” had much more on its mind than a good time).

That the big, sobering movie that did big box office won big at the Oscars shouldn’t come as a surprise — particularly at a moment fraught with worry over declining theater attendance in the Covid age. And this, I think, is the big takeaway from Oppie’s big night.

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