Opinion: “Don’t Look Up” doesn’t deserve an Oscar

On February 8, the nominees for the 94th Academy Awards were announced, and, as usual, I have mixed feelings. There were great films that didn’t receive any nominations due to their lack of exposure, and there were also some very bizarre snubs for films that did receive nominations. For example, “Dune” was nominated for Best Picture, as well as most of the other technical awards (including Original Score, Sound, Production Design, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Editing, and Visual Effects), but it didn’t get a Best Director nomination for Denis Villeneuve. All of these technical aspects were fantastic and very deserving of their nominations, but they were all in service of Villeneuve’s artistic vision. However, this wasn’t my biggest gripe this year. Instead, it was the Best Picture nomination for the film “Don’t Look Up.”

This film is an apocalyptic dark comedy that follows two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will wipe out every living creature on Earth. It was meant to serve as an allegory for climate change and how indifferent we are to it. “Don’t Look Up” is directed by Adam McKay and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett and Timothée Chalamet.

All in all, I did not like the film. It had some solid performances (specifically from DiCaprio, Lawrence and Rylance), a good score from Nicholas Britell and some genuinely funny moments. However, the film just felt really smug. The film feels like a pretentious kid who says nothing of merit while acting like they’ve said the most profound thing anybody has ever heard. Adam McKay is clearly talking about climate change, but the argument just stops at “our planet is dying, and Republicans aren’t doing anything about it.” As if that weren’t enough, Meryl Streep’s character is essentially nothing more than a Trump allusion; for example, later in the film she implores her supporters to just ignore the comet by donning a MAGA-Esque cap that reads “Don’t Look Up.”

The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Film Editing. Out of all of these, the only one that I personally understand is the nomination for Best Original Score, as I really enjoyed Britell’s music for the film. Part of that could have been because it sounded unique to me in comparison to other film scores, or maybe it’s just because I really like Britell (he also scored the film “Moonlight” and the HBO series “Succession”). I do not think it deserved the nomination for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and I find it to be very funny that the film was nominated for Best Film Editing. There are many scenes that contain random freeze frames and cut to other shots with no rhyme or reason, and it makes for an irritating experience.

In short, I strongly believe that “Don’t Look Up” does not deserve its Best Picture nomination, but that’s also because there are some other films from the year that should have been nominated in its place.

One I’d like to mention is Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” which, surprisingly, didn’t get a single nomination. Anderson’s work has received numerous accolades, and his four previous films have all been nominated in at least one category, with his 2014 film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” receiving nine nominations, including Best Picture. While “The French Dispatch” is the weakest film I’ve seen from Wes Anderson, I still believe that it should have been nominated in a few categories. As per usual with Anderson, the directing, cinematography, editing, score, production design, and costume design were fantastic; he is considered to be a perfectionist, and his attention to detail proves this. I would even be perfectly happy with nominations for just Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Another film that deserved more recognition is Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer.” I’m very happy that Kristen Stewart was nominated for her fantastic performance as Princess Diana, but the film should have also been nominated for the film’s directing, cinematography, production design, costume design, score, screenplay, sound design and editing. The film looked beautiful due to its use of color, smooth camera movements and lavish sets and costumes. Jonny Greenwood’s musical score mixes this sense of beauty with a sense of dread and suspense, as the film deals with Princess Diana’s internal struggles in contrast to her royal standing.

These are just two examples of films that should have been recognized instead of “Don’t Look Up,” and I guarantee that other people can think of even more examples. But ultimately, the Academy didn’t see it that way, and we’ll just have to see if this will continue. Also, it is up to you guys to watch these films yourselves and form your own opinions … which the Academy will ignore.

“Don’t Look Up” → 3/10
“The French Dispatch” → 8/10
“Spencer” → 10/10