Every single year it is bound to come up. The topic of the Academy having some form of agenda against those who make comedies. Sure, the Golden Globes may get it somewhat right by having the Comedy/Musical branch of the awards. But time and time again, people say the Oscars just aren’t a fan of comedies or those who traditionally make them.
And typically, it may seem like an easy thing to write off. But this year, it feels a bit different.
This year, when seemingly every publication touts out their lists of Oscar snubs, three people stand out that have stepped out of their comfort zones and brought ya performances that are well nuanced, critically acclaimed, and yet now somehow overlooked.
Eddie Murphy is in the midst of a massive career resurgence. He kicked it off back in the fall with the praised Dolemite is my Name, giving a performance that both reminded us just how funny the man still is but also his range as an actor. You feel for this seemingly-talentless, hapless individual. You want Rudy Ray Moore to succeed, and Eddie successfully brings him back to life. In connection with the film, he also returned back to host SNL for the first time in 35 years. So while the timing seems perfect for Eddie Murphy to garner his second Oscar nomination, alas it was not meant to be.
No doubt one of the most surprising performances of the year, however, goes to Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. While he has done a few films in the past that have garnered Oscar buzz, we have never seemed a complete transformation quite like this one where you can actually forget you’re watchinf Sandler. The man least likely to be praised was finally having his moment, with many signaling this as both a career best and one of the year’s top performances. He even won Best Actor from the National Board of Review, which all-but guarantees you an Oscar nom at least, if not a win. And still… Here we are.
This last one is even more surprising, as the relative newcomer Awkwafina not only made heads turn with her quick rise after her role in Crazy Rich Asians, but she also took home the Best Actress in a comedy/musical category at the Globes last week for her work in The Farewell, and seemed like a shoe-in. The rapper turned actress, who has an upcoming Comedy Central show that premieres next month, seemed all ready for her big night, and this slight feels the most shocking of them all.
There have been instances where some films have snuck through, such as films like Bridesmaids and The Big Sick for Best Screenplay (the former also brought Melissa McCarthy a nomination for Best Supporting Actress), as well as funny men and women getting nominations for turning serious (Jamie Foxx, Robin Williams, Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder come immediately to mind). But those are increasingly rare instances.
Are we saying that there’s a rule that no comedies can be nominated? Of course not. That all seems silly. But it is curious why the Academy is seemingly so against embracing the hard work put into making a comedy film. We would love to see comedy get its own category, but that is probably all a pipe dream at this point. Still, we can dream, no??