Inside A24’s Oscars snubs: Why they don’t matter

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It is seemingly impossible to avoid the plethora of Hydro Flasks and MacBooks that display the A24 logo, their owners proudly professing their love for Timothée Chalamet and their hatred of the awards show politics. There is no doubt that in the past decade, A24 has emerged as one of the primary forces guiding creativity and originality in the film industry, connecting to audiences with appealing aesthetics, relatable characters and undeniably iconic merchandising. But though the distributor’s style and compelling stories have sparked attention from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the past, its most recent contributions to film have sadly fallen short in garnering these forms of attention during this year’s awards season. 

Founded in 2012, A24 first appeared on the scene with films such as “The Bling Ring” and “The Spectacular Now,” producing coming-of-age stories that resonated with audiences. What began as pure fanfare around A24 quickly turned into massive critical acclaim in 2015 with the debut of films such as “Room” — which garnered Brie Larson an Academy Award for Best Actress — and “Amy.” From this point forward, A24 has quickly produced films that have not only circulated widespread popularity in the media but have also brought along immense critical success. Most notably, films such as “The Lobster,” “Moonlight” and “Lady Bird” generated massive amounts of attention from viewers and the academy. This success peaked in 2017, when “Moonlight” infamously won the award for best picture. With more than 50 films and 25 Academy Award nominations under its belt, A24 has solidified its position as a powerful distributor within the industry, creating some of the most beautiful and sincere films of the last decade. 

The past two years have brought this relatively constant stream of nominations to a halt, however. Specifically, this year’s Academy Awards gave only one nod to A24, with a cinematography nomination for “The Lighthouse.” Despite the major releases and overwhelmingly positive reception for 2019 films such as “Uncut Gems,” “Midsommar” and “The Farewell,” the academy has failed to acknowledge these projects from the distributor. 

So, why is it that the academy has recently shut out A24 films that audiences and critics thoroughly connect with? Perhaps it has something to with the academy snubbing all female directors as well as genre films that seemingly do not fit the status quo of what is considered “best picture-worthy.” 

A24 is a company that, if anything, is not afraid to go against the stereotype of what a successful film “should” be, and this is likely why its films were virtually ignored at this year’s Oscars. A24 remained true to its values, not just producing “Oscars bait” but producing films with stories that represent certain unspoken issues and experimenting with the emotional connection the company can make with its audience through playing with genre, storytelling and cinematography.  

“The Farewell” highlighted Lulu Wang’s direction, conveying a heartfelt look into a Chinese American family struggling with loss. Arguably one of the most conventional of A24’s films this year, its complete snub from the academy came as a surprise to many. There seemed to be a lot of hope for Wang, given the academy’s previous attention toward A24 with nominations for Greta Gerwig for 2017’s “Lady Bird.” Yet, given the Oscars’ history of excluding female-directed films from its nominations, especially this year, it isn’t that surprising that this film went without any nominations as a result. 

Snubs for “Midsommar” and “Uncut Gems” also inspired exasperation from fans, given each film’s unique exploration of genre.“Midsommar” especially took a unique approach to the horror genre, tying aesthetic visuals to a spooky and emotional narrative. The academy’s seeming bias against horror films has long been a major hindrance for a variety of production companies, and especially for A24. As exemplified in 2018 with A24’s “Hereditary,” the Oscars has regularly turned a blind eye to the genre, seemingly discouraging filmmakers who wish to be taken seriously when incorporating elements of horror into their work. Although nominations for thriller films such as “Parasite” help ease frustration at the ignorance about horror and thriller films shown by many awards bodies, they still present a major discredit to the brilliance of certain films in the genre. 

The academy’s apparent dismissal of A24’s most recent films, however, does not make the company’s work any less appreciated or beloved. A24 seemingly refuses to back down from fortifying a creative vision; the company strives for connection with audiences through its distinctive ability to capture extremely personal feelings in its work. Without trying to please specific groups or pump out the same generic narrative that tends to reign supreme at awards shows, A24 has dignified itself as a company that pushes limits and brings a fresh creative lens to the world of film and television. 

If anything, the nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards have proven the strength of A24 as a company. A24 follows its own model for what a compelling film entails. Without nominations, it has still maintained a dedicated following that continuously supports its projects. As current academy voters continue to exclude diverse filmmakers and seemingly rave over mediocrity, it is refreshing and inspiring to watch A24 create innovative and emotionally striking films. A24’s films leave audiences pondering their significance even after they’ve left the cinema — and that’s something that Oscars nominations can never change. 

Contact Sarah Runyan at [email protected].