As the Oscar nominations were announced this week, one movie seemed to have been left out of the Best Picture categories, that is according to comic-book fans, which also happens to be the highest-grossing movie of the year and the first film to reach over $1 billion at the box-office in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more impressively during the Omicron surge.
Spider-Man: No Way Home may have been nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar, but film director/actor Kevin Smith isn’t happy about the fact that the film got snubbed of a Best Picture Academy Award.
On his FatMan Beyond podcast, the Clerks director did not mince words: “What the fuck? They got 10 slots, they can’t give one to the biggest fucking movie of like the last three years? Man, and they’re like, ‘Why won’t anyone watch this show?’ Like fucking make a populist choice, fuck, man. You got how many slots? Throw in Spider-Man for god’s sakes. Let him swing in there. Fucking poor kid’s always getting crapped on and shit, show Peter Parker some fucking love. I’m not even being facetious, with as many movies as they have nominated for best picture…”
Oscar ratings have dwindled over the past few years, and the 2021 Academy Awards had its ratings at an all-time low. In a bid to lure viewership back in, the Academy wanted to create the “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” category, in 2018, to nominate more mainstream movies versus the selection of ten films that a general crowd may not be interested in. However, its introduction was then shelved to “examine and seek additional input regarding the new category.”
With many “popular films” usually nominated for Best Visual Effects and/or sound, while more independent and arthouse fare nominated for other awards, Smith’s comment on the Oscar’s declining ratings due to a lack of interesting nominees has been echoed a few times by film fans and critics alike. If viewers aren’t interested in the films being nominated for Best Picture, it doesn’t matter if you have a host or not, they just won’t tune in.
This isn’t even a matter of interpretation or opinion; Kevin Smith is just flat-out wrong, as he usually is when he pontificates on where the film industry is going.
Joker made over a billion dollars at the box office and was nominated for eleven Oscars, and won two, and that ceremony was the second-least watched Oscar broadcast of all time. The year before that, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and did the whole “Spider-Men from other dimensions team up” premise before we were even sure Disney would still be able to use the Spider-Man I.P. after 2019. Going over the last ten years, you’ve got popular smash hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, Dunkirk, La La Land, The Martian, American Sniper, and Gravity nominated for Best Picture.
Oh yeah, and also Dune, which was a big-budget sci-fi spectacle that did so well in its opening weekend, a sequel was greenlit less than a week later. Was that not a “populist choice?” If dudes like Kevin Smith want to pretend the Academy Awards don’t nominate enough mainstream hits for Best Picture, fine, but can we at least not act like Marvel Studios is the be-all-end-all of populist cinema?