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I’d like to thank the academy for… not much?


By Maya Shah, Co-T/E Life Editor

Scheduled for March 10, the 96th Academy Awards marks four years until the Oscars will have been celebrating the film industry for a century. Yet, with the academy’s declining views, aversion to light-hearted films and struggles with representation, the prestigious award show often feels stuck in the ways of its 1929 founding.

It is no secret the Oscars have faced its fair share of criticism — requests for a more diverse set of nominees are as old as the show itself. To this day, actresses Halle Berry and Michelle Yeoh are the only women of color to ever win best actress.

More than a decade after winning her award in 2002, Berry stated in an interview with Teen Vogue that her historic win “meant nothing” for Hollywood diversity as no Black women have since shared the honor. Presently, film fans have criticized the academy’s most recent nominees list for missing Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, two major female names from 2023’s most commercially successful movie: “Barbie.”

Despite collecting a whopping $1.4 billion in the box office according to statistics from CBS, “Barbie” failed to crack the top three most nominated films at the 2024 Oscars. Ranked solidly in fourth place with eight nominations, the comedy missed two major awards for best actress and best director. This year, “Barbie” joins “Past Lives” as female-directed movies that did not earn best director nominations despite being candidates for best picture.

The disconnect between fan-favorite films and those the academy recognized may be responsible for the Oscars’ decline. In response to steep viewership reductions from 43 million in 2000 to 10.3 million in 2021, The New York Times found that viewership of the Oscars increases when the academy nominates popular films. While viewership changes drastically year to year, the trend indicates that more heavily recognizing

films like “Barbie” may be the academy’s key to restoring its former popularity. It is, however, important to recognize the academy’s recent efforts to empower a more representative group of nominees. This year sees Lily Gladstone as the first Native best actress nominee for her work in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

2024 also marks the implementation of new standards that movies must meet for nomination regarding the diversity of their casts. According to the Oscars’ website, requirements include 30% of each film’s cast identifying as part of a predetermined set of underrepresented groups. While we have yet to see the long term results of these new standards, it is clearly a well-intentioned step in the right direction.

At the end of the day, the numbers should be a wake up call to the academy — no one is watching. While the Oscars are making slow and steady progress toward nominating a more diverse group of candidates, box office hits still remain underrecognized.Whether by creating new categories or increasing the number of nominees, the Oscars need serious change to bring back the crowd.

Maya Shah can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Maya Shah
Maya Shah, Co-T/E Life Editor
Maya Shah is a senior and the Co-T/E Life Editor of The Spoke. She covers community-oriented topics and specializes in both editorial writing and photography. As Co-T/E Life Editor, she works closely with staff reporters to develop their writing and designs pages 4-7 of all print issues. Outside of the newsroom, she is a captain of the girls' tennis team and leads Conestoga's Speech and Debate and Mock Trial clubs.