The Spirit Awards gave us our first look at the dystopian madness that is “gender neutral acting categories.” In the lead category, 8 out of 10 acting nominees are women. Only 2 are men. I think this ensures both Cate Blanchett for TAR AND Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere will win.
Here is how they describe the end result:
This year the Spirit Awards Film Nominating Committees selected nominees from over 25 different countries, applying the following guidelines in determining nominees: uniqueness of vision, original and provocative subject matter, economy of means.
They are missing one thing. Identity. Identity clearly matters more than anything else with these projects and nominees. Look, there isn’t anything wrong with that. That is the new religion of the new utopia on the Left. Everyone gets a seat at the table. Everything is equitable across all platforms. We get it. We’re living it. But why pretend it isn’t happening?
They spell it out here without spelling it out:
The Spirit Awards Nominating Committees are comprised of writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, actors, critics, casting directors, film festival programmers and other working film professionals. Of all nominated writers and directors, 61% are women and 34% are BIPOC. Of all nominated actors, 70% are women and 27% are BIPOC. And of all 2023 nominees, 51% are women and 33% are BIPOC. This year, the Spirit Awards nominating committees are 50% female, 6% Nonbinary, 3% Transgender, and 61% BIPOC; 32% identify as LGBTQ+ and 8% identify as people with disabilities (PWD).
Everyone covered, right? This is a dream realized. A new way of seeing film awards. There is nothing competitive about them. They are equitable. They are fair. Everyone can attend them, participate in them and watch them and feel the glory of fairness. After all, isn’t this what we’ve all been fighting for in Hollywood since 2020? YES, it is.
A24 has 24 nominations, dwarfing every other studio. I don’t know why that is since I have asked for, but not yet received, the list of the nominating committee. It seems a little odd, given how the awards came down. But it is what it is.
Best Lead Performance
Cate Blanchett – “Tár” (Focus Features)
Dale Dickey – “A Love Song” (Bleecker Street)
Mia Goth – “Pearl” (A24)
Regina Hall – “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” (Focus Features)
Paul Mescal – “Aftersun” (A24)
Aubrey Plaza – “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeremy Pope – “The Inspection” (A24)
Taylor Russell – “Bones and All” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Andrea Riseborough – “To Leslie” (Momentum Pictures)
Michelle Yeoh – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Best Supporting Performance
Jamie Lee Curtis – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Brian Tyree Henry – “Causeway” (A24/Apple Original Films)
Nina Hoss – “Tár” (Focus Features)
Brian D’Arcy James – “The Cathedral” (Mubi)
Ke Huy Quan – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Trevante Rhodes – “Bruiser” (Onyx Collective)
Theo Rossi – “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions)
Mark Rylance – “Bones and All” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Jonathan Tucker – “Palm Trees and Power Lines” (Momentum Pictures)
Gabrielle Union – “The Inspection” (A24)
There’s just one problem. It is all artificial. There is nothing authentic about it.
For instance, they’ve left off the Best Actor frontrunner Brendan Fraser for The Whale. Now, granted, was he in that category, either Blanchett or Yeoh would have to lose and that would be a bad look if either of them were sitting there, having lost to a man. Not just any man, mind you. A WHITE CIS-GENDERED HETERO-NORMATIVE NORMIE WHITE GUY.
But what if Brendan Fraser gave not just the best MALE performance of the year but the best performance overall? TOO BAD, suckers. Meet the new utopia, the same as the old utopia. Deserves got nothing to do with it.
Not to mention, if you’re going to nominate Taylor Russell for Bones and All, which was something to celebrate, why not nominate TImothee Chalamet, who is not only good in the movie but has an entire fan army to make this thing go viral? Why not?
So no Brendan Fraser here, no Brendan Fraser at the Golden Globes (he has said he won’t show up). That leaves him just the SAG awards, maybe the Critics Choice to win.
They’ve aimed for “authenticity,” no doubt. They want everything to be good and fair and for them to be good Puritans who did exactly the right thing out of goodness and purity of heart. Okay, fine. I get it. I really do. It comes from a good and decent place. They believe they are correcting the wrongs from the past. But does anyone see anything other than that artificial attempt to balance things out?
Then again, you aren’t really allowed to object. If you do, you’ll be met with an avalanche of rage just for noticing how dramatically things changed. I know we are in a “Fourth Turning,” which is a generational shift. Out with the Boomers, in with the Zoomers, but for Gen-Xers like me, the skeptical ones in the middle, it’s a hard swallow. We’re used to having competitions based on quality of performance. Or at least striving for that.
It basically says competition has been deemed bad because it bolsters the “White Male Patriarchy,” making the game rigged since the outset. Now it’s time, they believe, to unrig the game. Bu in so doing, they are still rigging the game. They’re just rigging it differently. Everyone is now defined by the category they belong to and if you aren’t in one of those categories, you better find a way to be in one or be left behind. Like Laura Dern says in Jurassic Park, “it’s still the flea circuis.”
Awards are meant to honor the best. No matter what. But that doesn’t seem to be the new rules of the new game. You are now to be representative of a group – BIPOC, non-binary, etc. Yet, that erases who you really are in the end. If you are defined by the category that’s all you’ve ever be. A stamp to ensure equity has been realized.
The Academy should never go down this path or they will be dunzo in the eyes of the public. I promise you, most people in this country and world aren’t utopians. They still want to know people who accept awards, or are nominated for them, got there because they gave the best performance — the best performance.
Yes, all of the categories at the Oscars are gender-neutral by default. I have always believed this made it much harder for women to compete, especially in the Best Director category. At least with the acting categories, they knew they would always have ten slots no matter what. The same goes for men.
Ultimately, maybe this awards race, this Oscar game I once helped launch online in 1999 is, by now, No Country for Old (Wo)Men.
“You can’t stop what’s coming. It is all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”