Life in Gurgaon

Well done Black Panther and Roma, but here’s why you shouldn’t take the Oscar nominations seriously

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The comedian Ricky Gervais has an unflappable logic that he applies to writing material. He says that there is no scenario in which the comedian doesn’t end up offending someone or the other. So the best option, always, is to go with your gut. The Academy seems to operate under the same beliefs. It’s no wonder then that the nominations for the 2019 Oscars were a joke.

Announced early evening Tuesday (India time) by actors Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross, the Oscar nominations instead of celebrating the greatest cinematic ‘achievements’ of the year, did a bang up job – as always – of putting everyone in a bad mood.

It’s foolish to expect an organisation that applies such questionable voting methodology to do right by the underdogs, and although Roma’s acting nominations were unexpected, they rightly recognised the fine performances of its two lead stars.

But by the time the nominations were announced, Roma was no longer the tiny black and white foreign language upstart that it started its campaign as. It was the film to beat. The New York Times reported that Netflix spent approximately $20 million on Roma’s awards campaign – a staggering amount, considering the film’s $15 million production budget. It shows just how badly the streaming giant wants that Oscars validation, especially since its main rival, Amazon, beat Netflix to the punch in 2017.

Unlike, say, Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody – easily the most controversial of the eight Best Picture nominees – Roma thoroughly deserves the praise it is getting. And even though Netflix put all its eggs in the Roma basket, it was rewarded for its brave creative model with the surprise love shown to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen Brothers’ oddball Western anthology movie that ended up with three nods, each of them unexpected.