Why Was First Man Snubbed At The Oscars?

In case you haven’t gone online, the Academy announced its nominations for Oscars 2019. While there were several important nods, including the inclusion of Black Panther in the coveted Best Picture category, the list has left many divided. Netizens have begun debating just how deserved each film in that category was. Personally, I found it most heartbreaking to not see Damiene Chazelle’s highly acclaimed and emotional drama First Man snubbed at the Oscars, which I praised in my review here.

While Chazelle took home plenty of awards in 2016 thanks to his Ryan Gosling Emma Stone starrer La La Land, First Man didn’t receive any nomination in the big categories. No Best Director, no Best Actor, no Best Actress and most of all, no Best Picture. It was nominated for the technical categories of Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Production Design along with, rather strangely, a nod for Visual Effects. The moon landing sequences were undoubtedly impressive, as were the multiple test runs that the crew goes through, sure. What I’m saying is, this is a list of categories you’d expect a movie like Aquaman to get nominated for (which by the way didn’t make the cut for visual effects so that’s another downer).

Why exactly did the Academy leave First Man out? Was it not that great of a film? While film opinions can be subjective, most seemed to agree that it was a knock out great film, especially critics with an 88 percent Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes score rating the movie 8.1 and a Metascore of 84 percent signifying Universal Acclaim. Audiences didn’t lap it up as much, which makes it all the more a stronger candidate to get the Best Picture nod. Certainly the general consensus among reviews and reviewers is that it’s a great movie with a lot of subtlety to it that underplays emotions in a manner true to Neil Armstrong’s life.

Could it be because of the American flag controversy? To fill you all up on this, a small controversy erupted over the moon landing sequences of First Man when director Damiene Chazelle chose not to explicitly show Ryan Gosling plant the American flag on the moon. His reasoning was to project it as a moment that was significant to humanity as a whole rather than just the United States of America and by choosing not to show that scene, it became a shared achievement. The flag itself can be seen over the moon’s surface in multiple shots.

This didn’t sit well with a certain section of the audience though, who chose to chasticize Chazelle on his choice of omitting the crucial moment. It’s really a long stretch to imagine this but is it possible some of those members were voters of the Academy who had a say in deciding which films move ahead for Best Picture? I know, it sounds really ridiculous but we live in a world where The Dark Knight was snubbed for Best Picture and Best Director when it single-handedly elevated the status of comicbook storytelling to a whole new level. I wouldn’t like to believe this is a possible reason for the snub but I had the thought so needed to put it out there.

So what’s the real reason why First Man did not get a Best Picture nomination? To be honest, I don’t know. And my intention with that questionable headline wasn’t to draw you in through clickbait but to start a discussion around this. I’m sure the Academy isn’t going to be transparent about snubbing First Man or come out clean and reveal their reasons for doing what they did. That ain’t happening. What I can only hope is that there are others out there, who rightfully felt First Man deserved to belong up there in the Best Picture category, or at least be acknowledged for one of the big nominations.

Let the discussions begin. The comments are all open. As for the movie, First Man is available on DVD and Blu-Ray to watch in glorious 1080p.

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