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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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‘Barbie’ receives shocking snubs in annual Oscar nominations

Key women behind the film’s success weren’t nominated despite “Barbie” being a huge box office success. Why?


This is a word many would use to describe “Barbie,” Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s 2023 existential pink sensation. 

“Barbie” was the highest-grossing film of 2023, making over $1.4 billion at the box office. It also became Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing worldwide release of all time. Those staggering numbers are a landmark victory for a film about feminism in a movie industry built for men. 

However, after the 96th Oscar nominations were released, it’s clear the Academy doesn’t value the women who made the film great.

Although Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera of “Barbie” were both nominated for their supporting roles, two shocking omissions were notable: Margot Robbie, who starred as the iconic doll, and Gerwig, the film’s director, did not receive nominations. 

Robbie has already been recognized by the Academy for her performances in “I, Tonya” and “Bombshell.” Her shocking snub left many wondering: What made this role different?

In an interview with Variety, Ferrera reflected on Robbie’s acting ability. 

“One of the things about Margot as an actress is how easy she makes everything look,” Ferrera said. “And perhaps people got fooled into thinking that the work seems easy.”

Perhaps the Academy takes Robbie’s effortless acting style for granted. 

Despite what some may think, playing a character like Barbie is no easy task. Robbie has expressed how difficult it was to prepare for the performance. Her former methods didn’t work for a doll; there were no accents nor childhood memories to cling to as she had for her past work. 

“She just was invented out of a vacuum,” Robbie said during a Variety interview. 

Cillian Murphy, who was nominated for “Oppenheimer,” portrayed a real person with thoughts and actions. Arguably, Robbie achieved a much greater feat due to the very little source material to draw from. Maybe you count “Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper” as inspiration, but I gather Robbie didn’t. 

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Perhaps Barbie is too notorious of a figure and the film is hindered by this. But does a performance need to seem indie or high-brow for the Academy to view it as worthy of praise? This is the problem with film snobs, the type of people that scare away casual viewers. Loving cinema doesn’t need to be pretentious. Mastering the subtlety Robbie achieves in her depiction of Barbie should be applauded. 

What really kept Gerwig from her rightfully deserved nomination?

Female directors are historically underrepresented at the Academy Awards. Only three have won Oscar gold in 95 years. This makes Gerwig’s omission unsurprising yet still disappointing. 

Perhaps it is the fact that many think the “Barbie” movie isn’t for them. Male viewers particularly have refused to understand the point of Baumbach and Gerwig’s writing, arguing it’s “man-hating” or part of the “evil feminist agenda.”

Golden Globes host Jo Koy perfectly exemplified this ignorance in his monologue, saying, “‘Barbie’ is about a plastic doll with big boobies.”

Koy’s crude humor ignored the film’s massive impact: it connected many of its viewers with heartwarming nostalgia while also addressing mature frustrations regarding patriarchal gender roles. The film was both entertaining and dignifying — two things Koy was not when he opened his mouth at the Golden Globes. 

To successfully combine serious themes with comedy is an incredible achievement worth recognizing. Baumbach and Gerwig also managed to create massive cultural movements through the movie’s various viral-worthy moments. The fact that they even got away with making this movie is a triumph in itself — many brands would never allow this kind of publicity. 

Gerwig, a master of world-building, puts intricate detail into all of her work. For 2019’s “Little Women,” Gerwig did extensive research on Civil War-era costume design, learned about 19th-century dye techniques and gave each character a specific color scheme. 

In 2017’s “Lady Bird,” star Saoirse Ronan wore no makeup, even after having an acne breakout, in order for her character to seem like a real teenager. 

This diligence was obvious in “Barbie.” Barbie doesn’t walk down stairs, she just floats off the top floor! 

Putting dutiful care into small details is what makes a filmmaker truly spectacular, and Gerwig is a perfect example of this directorial quality. 

Gerwig received a nomination for the screenplay she wrote with Baumbach and Robbie, and she was nominated in the Best Picture category for her work in producing “Barbie.” These are still honorable awards to win, but they are nominated amongst others, and it would be great to see recognition for their individual — and arguably bigger — contributions to the movie. 

With only five slots available in most categories, highly talented individuals are left off the Oscar ballot every year. But the director and star of the most popular film of the year deserve recognition, particularly from such a prestigious institution as the Academy. 

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