Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Our list of 8 Best Picture nominees includes 5 films directed by women, and features a lot of the films that you may have noticed have already appeared a number of times in other categories, the former illustrating the strength that women-fronted films have offered in 2019 (even despite how the Official Oscars have chosen to largely ignore that) and the latter being proof of each picture’s own remarkable quality across the board.
These alternative Best Picture nominees aren’t sympathy picks, they’re phenomenal films. Would all of them make it into the list of Official Oscars nominees were we to combine the two Best Picture lists? No. But, would some? Absolutely.
There are films in our Best Picture list that didn’t even qualify for nomination – Portrait of a Lady on Fire being ineligible for selection due to the Academy’s rules of only allowing one International Feature to represent any one country (France choosing to enter Les Miserables instead) – and 7 of our 8 weren’t nominated at the Oscars for anything… not one single category.
This doesn’t devalue our selection, more it indicates The Academy’s preference for selecting safe choices from reliable names across the board, whether they’ve seen the movies or not – and we know that a lot of them haven’t.
In the likes of The Farewell, Midsommar, The Lighthouse and The Souvenir, we’ve had some of the most remarkable and challenging cinema for years, and some of the very best work of their respective genres arguably of all time, and our Alternative Oscars was created to emphasise how The Oscars don’t get to erase that fact by simply ignoring the progress being made in certain aspects of the industry.
Recommended for you: 2020 Oscars Best Picture Nominees Ranked
In 2020, the Oscars remain the go-to awards show on the calendar for the English speaking world and their value is therefore inherent to their popularity – praising a film makes it a feature people know about, dismissing another film can be seen as drowning out important voices – but the reality is that every year anonymous Academy voters are outed by film publications for having not seen most of the films, for holding gross prejudices in their selections of nominees, and for largely failing to grasp the very nature of cinema, all of which should be considered embarrassing for the Academy and Hollywood overall.
The Oscars, perhaps moreso than any other award, are bought. They’re campaigned for, sometimes to fees upwards of $30million, and this brings into focus the lack of true artistic integrity at the core of the organisation.
This piece started as a lighthearted parody of the entire process, but its intention was always to explore more deeply the cinema that is put aside by the “powers that be” because it didn’t have the funding to put on a ball, a party or a private screening, because it didn’t have the foresight to send out information packs or simply kiss ass.
Each year truly spectacular cinematic achievements are put to screen without the recognition they deserve because of this process, and while the Oscars will always hold value to those interested in the art form, the reality is that their word should not be taken as gospel and that cinema exists as a large feast outside of the Academy’s exceptionally small plate of rather expensive offerings.