Was ‘Barbie’ snubbed? BYU students weigh in

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The Academy announced nominations for the Oscars’ 96th year, and the results of “Barbie” have gotten BYU students talking.

Ryan Gosling, who played the fan-favorite “beach Ken,” was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. America Ferrera, who played Mattel employee Gloria, was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie were not nominated for Best Director or Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Shelby Luke, a theatre arts student with an emphasis in costuming from Nebraska, shared her thoughts of disappointment on why Gerwig and Robbie were excluded.

“Because of patriarchy … ‘Oppenheimer’ is a drama about a man and ‘Barbie’ is a drama about a woman who wears pink,” Luke said.

Greta Gerwig (director) and cast members of “Barbie” on the set behind-the-scenes. Margot Robbie portrays stereotypical Barbie, Alexandra Shipp portrays writer Barbie, Michael Cera portrays Alan, America Ferrera portrays human Gloria, and Ariana Greenblatt portrays Gloria’s daughter Sasha. (Jaap Buitendijk)

Gosling expressed his frustration and support for his costars in a public statement: “There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film,” he wrote. 

BYU student Claire Houston echoed this sentiment. Houston is a civil engineering student from South Jordan.

“The movie would be nothing if not for (them),” Houston said.

In addition to Best Supporting Actor and Actress, “Barbie” was nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Original Song (“I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?”), Best Picture, Best Production Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The rest of the nominees are listed here.

Houston pointed out that the Academy frequently chooses nominees partially because of their legacy of work. She used this point to argue in favor of a nomination for Margot Robbie.

“She should have been nominated, in my opinion, off of legacy and off all the work she did for ‘Barbie,’” Houston said.

Gabriel Almeida, a data science student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, agreed with this sentiment. He also said he felt Greta Gerwig wasn’t one of the top five directors of the year, agreeing with her exclusion.

“Margot Robbie is the face of the movie, she gave complexity to a character we didn’t think had one … it seems like the voters knew they made a mistake,” Almeida said.

While this controversy has brought some students’ attention to the Academy, others, like Almeida, follow the Oscars closely; he and his friends make a game out of the event, awarding the winner with a free dinner.

“I love the Oscars. It’s like my biggest event of the year … they made me fall in love with movies,” Almeida said.

Houston, however, said the awards ceremony does not always reflect how the public feels.

“The entire thing is basically a self-congratulatory award from Hollywood to Hollywood,” she said.

Greta Gerwig, director/screenwriter, and Margot Robbie, actress/producer, on the Barbie press tour. Gerwig also directed and wrote the screenplays for critically acclaimed films “Lady Bird” and “Little Women.” (Hanna Lassen, Getty Images).

Greta Gerwig, along with husband Noah Baumbach, was credited in the movie’s nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Margot Robbie’s role as a producer of the film puts her in the nomination for Best Picture alongside David Heyman, Tom Ackerly and Robbie Brenner.

According to the 96th Academy Awards of Merit rulebook, each award category can only have five nominees; Best Picture is the only exception with ten nominees. Acting nominations are voted on from a list of ten eligible performers in each category, and voting is done in secret by invited members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

While students were generally united on the opinion that Gerwig should have been nominated, they were divided when it came down to acting nominations.

I really don’t understand why America Ferrera was nominated … she just did the basics for her role,” Almeida said. He also suggested that Margot Robbie in “Barbie” should have taken the place of Annette Bening in “Nyad” for Best Actress.

America Ferrera, Margot Robbie, and Greta Gerwig on the press tour for “Barbie.” This year marks Ferrera’s first Academy Award nomination. (Han Myung-Gun, WIREIMAGE).   

Luke said Gosling should make an even bigger statement.

“I think Ryan Gosling did an amazing job… (he’s) a great guy, and I think he should reject the nomination,” she said.

Almeida encouraged students who wouldn’t typically be interested in the Oscars to get involved and seek something “different” to watch. He recommended students watch the movies nominated for Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplays to find a new favorite movie.

“Take this Oscars season and enjoy (it). Seek new movies, challenge your friends or just talk about it, because watching a movie is only the beginning of a whole new world of possibilities,” Almeida said.

The 2024 Oscars ceremony will take place on March 10.

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