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How Politics Could Pick this Year's Best Picture

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, is the oldest entertainment awards ceremony, first held in 1929. Since then it has become the greatest honor an artist in the film industry can receive. It is a celebration of the art of film in all its many facets. Every film is its own story and has its own idea to share. The Academy serves to recognize the ways in which those ideas are presented. The award that truly acknowledges a film’s idea is the award for Best Picture. Of course, a Best Picture–winner cannot lack amazing acting, directing, music, editing, and all the rest, but this award is ultimately for the idea. Because this award has so much power, the voters in the Academy often see it as a moment to choose the idea that is the most meaningful. That choice is very often affected by the year, particularly the political year, in which the Academy is making its selection. This year politics could potentially have a large role.

A revolt against sexual assault and harassment, as well as disresepct for women and the lack of opportunities for them, has rocked the movie industry this past year. Women are taking a stand and refusing to be pushed into the corner any longer. Lady Bird, one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, is only the fifth movie directed by a woman to receive the nomination—out of 442 films that have been nominated for Best Director in the history of the Oscars. The last female-directed film to be nominated was the Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow, which also won Best Picture and Best Director. Lady Bird, which is also centered around two women, shouldn’t and won’t win Best Picture simply because a woman directed it, but the idea alone will factor into many voters’ decisions. It could be the tipping point for the excellent film.

Along with the “Me Too” movement in film this year comes the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The movie presents many controversial issues, such as police brutality, but focuses strongly on a sexual assault victim who was killed by her attacker and her mother’s journey for justice. These ideas are prevalent throughout Hollywood’s “Me Too” movement. Because of that, voters are going to be swayed to make a statement for the movement by awarding the film with Best Picture.

One hot topic in media today is the idea of “fake news” and the importance of the freedom of the press. With social media scandals, big news reveals, and more, the idea of a free press is extremely important today. Such ideas have been tackled in previous Best Picture nominees, most recently Best Picture–winner Spotlight. Because the truth in news and media has been on center-stage lately, giving The Post the Best Picture award is a way in which Hollywood could make its stand for the truth.

Unlike films based on real events, horror and suspense films are not the Academy’s favorite choice. The Exorcist and The Sixth Sense are some of the only nominations from the genre and they lost. But Jordan Peele’s Get Out is nominated this year, and its ideas beneath the jumpscares may be enough to make it a real contender. The film looks at blacks in America and “liberal guilt.” It is a satirical critique of systemic racism in America. Because of movements in politics such as Black Lives Matter, Get Out’s ideas are incredibly relevant and unlikely to be overlooked by the voters.

Most years we can pick out a movie or two that we think deserves and will most likely win Best Picture, but this year is more challenging. Many of the nominees seem worthy of winning, yet there are reasons why we think each one seems equally unlikely to win. This year, politics may be the thing that makes the decision.

- Madei Davis '18, Ava Davis '18, and Grace O'Malley '18