Celebrating the ones left behind at the Oscars: 5 movies you must watch

A huge shoutout to these splendid movies that were ignored in the nominations

By Yasser Usman

Published: Thu 2 Feb 2023, 9:38 PM

The Academy Award nominations tilted the entire focus to the nominated movies and performances and discussion is only about prospective winners. Yes, it’s thrilling to see the multiverse action epic Everything Everywhere All at Once dominating with 11 nominations, All Quiet on the Western Front and even brilliant arthouse movies like Tár as well as The Banshees of Inisherin reaching the coveted shortlist. But today I feel like giving a huge shoutout to these splendid movies that were ignored in the nominations. I loved these movies (in no particular order) and despite their absence at the Oscar night on March 12, they need to be celebrated. Watch these!

Decision To Leave

This one is an absolute favourite. On the surface, it’s a Hitchcock-inspired romantic murder mystery about a detective falling for his beautiful suspect but what dazzles you is its emotional imagery, the feeling of regret, longing and memories. Legendary Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook’s film won the Best Director trophy at Cannes as well as a nomination at BAFTA. It was a critics favourite from 2022 but criminally neglected.


While blockbusters Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick got ample representation in many categories, this crowd-pleasing science-fiction blockbuster of 2022 failed to secure a nomination despite great reviews. Director Jordan Peele’s visually superlative Nope is a sci-fi horror movie with deep layers. It centres on a Black family who struggles to maintain their legacy in the film industry, training horses for movies and TV. And there is a UFO hovering over their remote horse farm. I feel the reason for its zero nomination is Academy’s long running bias against horror movies. Say a big ‘Yes’ to Nope!

Armageddon Time

Writer-director James Gray’s quasi-biographical Armageddon Time is a story of a young Jewish-American boy who gets an African-American friend and begins to struggle with expectations from his family and growing up in a world of capitalism, inequality and prejudice. It’s a warm, personal film with memorable performances from Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong but none thought to be worthy of a single nomination. While you celebrate Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical story The Fabelmans at the awards night, don’t forget this one too.

The Woman King

I can’t figure out why this remarkable spectacle by director Gina Prince Bythewood was so blatantly ignored. The real-life historical epic of an elite group of female soldiers in 19th-century Africa ticked all columns to be nominated in more than one categories. The fiery performance by Viola Davis should have got a best actor nomination. This one hurts. Watch it, show it to friends so that it doesn’t get lost in the noise of the nominated.

She Said

Truly a shame it was snubbed. A hugely relevant and solid thriller about the aftermath of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood. It tells the story of The New York Times’ journalists Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) who investigate the horrific crimes of Harvey Weinstein and ultimately succeed in bringing him down. Though it bombed at the box office, I also believe that the Oscars didn’t want to get embroiled in any discussion about #MeToo as the Weinstein trials are still ongoing.

It is sad that these brilliant films will not be talked about as ferociously as the ones nominated. While it’s true that such hits and misses are a part of any competitive award function, some omissions don’t feel justified.

Particularly, the latter two (The Woman King and She Said) also point out an upsetting drift I want to rant about. The academy’s cold shoulder to the women directors this year. Remember, women directors won the category past two years in a row — Chloé Zhao for Nomadland (2020) and Jane Campion winning last year for Power of the Dog. It gave hope that finally things are changing in the American Film industry and at the Oscars. So it is even more disappointing to see all-male-nominees in the Best Director category despite so many phenomenal films by female filmmakers this year.

Women directors like Maria Schrader (She Said), Sarah Polley (Women Talking), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King), and Charlotte Wells (Aftersun) were rudely ignored. In the Academy Awards history, only seven women have been nominated for director, producing only three winners. This also reflects the inequality meted out to the women directors while they keep on making great films year after year.

Not just women directors, even terrific acting performances were ignored. Particularly, no black women received a Best Actress nomination this year. Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King) were shockingly overlooked. Both were frontrunners in many award functions before the Academy nominations. Viola Davis had already been nominated by BAFTA, SAG, Critics Choice, and Golden Globes. Infact, no black women has received a Best Actress nomination this year. This is the second year in a row in which no black woman got a nomination for the best actress. No black man was nominated for best actor either. To give you context, the only time a black woman won the Oscar for best actress was 20 years ago — Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball.

Fans protested by floating #OscarsSoWhite on social media. Till director Chinonye Chukka has slammed Oscars for this ‘unabashed misogyny towards black women’. The biases are not just about the Oscars nominations. They still have deeper roots. So these problematic exclusions must be criticised and debated.

I believe the best protest is to binge watch these movies and cheer for them. A lack of Oscar nomination doesn’t make them any less brilliant.

As an endnote, something does make me feel a little better after these disappointments. The notable snub to the most influential names in Hollywood — James Cameron didn’t receive a Best Director nomination for Avatar: The Way of Water while the superstar Tom Cruise was overlooked in the Best Actor category for the blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick. Cheap thrills!

Usman is a film commentator and author


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