Home Movie fans unhappy 96th Academy Awards nominations are not all about ‘Barbie’

Movie fans unhappy 96th Academy Awards nominations are not all about ‘Barbie’

Rebecca Barnabi
“Barbie” was the highest grossing movie of 2023 after its release to theaters on July 21. Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

Last year may have been the year of Barbie, but the 2024 Academy Awards are not necessarily reflecting the milestone.

The film received eight Oscar nominations, including best picture and director Greta Gerwig was nominated for best screenplay. However, fans and media are in an uproar because the highest grossing film did not receive an Oscar nomination for Gerwig as best director and for Margot Robbie as best actress.

“It’s a movie that really hit the sweet spot,” said UVA professor of Media Studies Jack Hamilton, who teaches film classes and is a pop music scholar.

“Barbie” not only did well at the box office. “It really, really resonated with a huge audience,” Hamilton said. Moviegoers returned several times to see the film, in which Robbie brought Mattel’s blonde doll to life, and they formed an emotional attachment with the film.

“I think fans of the movie were angry,” Hamilton said of the film not receiving best actress and best director nominations.

However, what fans and the media may not understand is that if the film wins for best picture, Gerwig and Robbie will also be recognized as producers.

Hamilton said he was surprised “Barbie” did not receive a best director nomination, because the combination of the film’s content and Gerwig’s role as director made the movie unique. The Academy, however, has a bias against comedies. While Gerwig received a nomination for the movie’s screenplay, Hamilton said her not being nominated for best director is more significant than Robbie not being nominated for best actress.

“Margot Robbie was so central to getting the movie made,” Hamilton said of why fans are so upset about Robbie’s Oscar snub.

According to Hamilton, only directors in the Academy vote to nominate individuals for best director.

“I think the people who did get nominated are pretty deserving,” he said.

Ten films are nominated for best picture, but only five directors for best director.

“It was a great year for movies,” Hamilton said, but he doubts that “Barbie” will win best picture. Comedies rarely win best picture. The favorite for best picture will be “Oppenheimer.”

All in all, Hamilton said what would have been egregious of the Academy is if “Barbie” had not been nominated for best picture. And he thinks the fact the movie was snubbed for best director and best actress will help its chances for best picture because “it’s been disrespected.”

In the years to come, how the film will be regarded, Hamilton said, depends on whether it creates a new movie trend. While Robbie and Gerwig have adamantly stated a sequel will not happen, Hamilton thinks a sequel focused on “Ken” is possible.

“Mattel is really interested in making more movies based on its toys,” he said. The toy company’s vision is to move its intellectual property into Hollywood movie history. The idea of making a movie about a doll seemed silly at first, so its popularity among audiences was a surprise. Hamilton said he thinks audiences are burned out on sequels, superheroes and remakes, and “Barbie” was a novel concept.

“I think that ‘Barbie’ will be remembered very fondly by people years from now.”

Robbie was silent about the nominations until People magazine shared today what the actress said at a special Screen Actors Guild screening in Los Angeles yesterday.

“There’s no way to feel sad when you know you’re this blessed.” She added that she is “beyond ecstatic that we’ve got eight Academy Award nominations — it’s so wild.”

Robbie said she thinks Gerwig should have been nominated for best director “because what she did is a once-in-a-career, once-in-a-lifetime thing, what she pulled off, it really is. But it’s been an incredible year for all the films.”

“Barbie” the movie made more than $1 billion at the box office in 2023 and is “bigger than our industry,” Robbie said. The movie has done “way more than we ever dreamed it would, and that is truly the biggest reward that could come out of all of this.”
The 96th Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at 8 p.m. EST.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.