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You Probably Won’t Win an Oscar and Wonder Woman Won’t Either

By now, many discussions about the Oscar nominations have happened and the nominations have been discussed both in and out of their political contexts. As a Wonder Woman fan, I was surprised (as many fans were) to hear that the 2017 film Wonder Woman didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination. The film’s director, Patty Jenkins, didn’t earn a nod. Lead actress Gal Gadot wasn’t acknowledged. Screenplay writer Allan Heinberg, director of photographer Matthew Jensen, and costumer designer Lindy Hemming also were not nominated. Other Wonder Woman fans and I grumbled about this, and we could have lived with it except…

Boss Baby was nominated.

Yes, a movie about a baby dressed in a suit with Alec Baldwin’s voice was nominated for Best Animated Film.

You might point out, superhero movies are never nominated…

Except Logan (a movie about Wolverine) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 2017, a movie from the DC family was acknowledge when Suicide Squad was nominated for best make-up.

And neither of those movies had the social impact that we saw from the Wonder Woman film.

A Zeitgeist

Wonder Woman commanded the cultural zeitgeist in a way that no other movie managed to do in 2017. Upon its heroic debut in theaters, it achieved the highest-grossing opening weekend for a female director on record, raking in $223 million globally. Screenings of the film exclusively for women-identifying folks caught headlines as ladies flocked to see the film in droves, and some men lamented to being left out. The drama didn’t really make a dent; by November, Wonder Woman had become the highest rated superhero movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes. (Scott)

Recall the stories of women crying as they watched Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman ascend to cross No Man’s Land?

Let’s ask ourselves: How can a movie with that kind of cultural impact be overlooked?

Maybe the film wasn’t overlooked. Maybe it was ignored.

Maybe it was…shunned?

Overlooked, Under-promoted, Shunned?

“In a year where championing female visibility across virtually every platform gained major traction, Wonder Woman’s absence from the Oscars was noted by fans and critics alike” (Scott). Many of those notes read like this:

We know why Wonder Woman was ignored. It’s backlash from the shifting power seen in Hollywood.

But before that seems paranoid, let’s look at some of the facts:

  1. The film grossed “[…]$821.74 million, topping the cume of 2002’s Spider-Man and giving Gal Godot’s Amazon warrior-princess the crown as the highest-grossing superhero origin film of all time” (Hughes).
  2. […] the film has managed to become the only tentpole film to reach parity between male and female audiences, outshining even The Force Awakens. With the average superhero film featuring an audience that’s 62 percent male, the even split between men and women is further proof that audiences will flock to films that represent them. (Erao)
  3. Along with the increase in female audience members, the data also shows an above average amount of viewers over 50. As word of mouth spread for Wonder Woman, more and more older audience members came out. Likewise, there was an increase in families seeing the film and infrequent moviegoers (described as those who only see 1–4 films a year). (Erao)
  4. All told, this data not only highlights Wonder Woman‘s appeal to a variety of audiences, but the film’s rare ability to gain new viewers over time. While each new week of the film’s release naturally saw a drop off, the numbers show it was far less than a typical tentpole. Even then, it was mostly a decrease of young male viewers, while other demos began seeing the film more and more. (Erao)

A Resounding Cultural and Social Success

For a movie as culturally and visually powerful as Wonder Woman, it is impossible to imagine how it failed to score in any Oscar category. The Oscar voters are not required to support, explain, or justify their choices, so we have to chalk this up to personal choice. We can have our ideas, our guesses, our theories, and our assumptions, but we won’t ever know. This is a reminder that the Oscars shouldn’t be treated as an objective marker of achievement or success.

As Sally Field told us in the 1980s, winning an Academy Award is a reminder that they “like you, they really like you.” They didn’t like Wonder Woman. However, that isn’t the quote that we should keep in the forefront of our minds now though. Instead, we should remember Queen Hippolyte’s words to a young and hopeful Diana: “Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

We have learned that they don’t deserve her, and likely never will.

To Discuss

Were you surprised at the lack of Oscar nominations for Wonder Woman? Was another movie you thought deserved recognition overlooked? Leave your perspective in the comments.

Works Cited

Erao, Matthew. “Wonder Woman Box Office Success Driven by Older & Female Moviegoers.” https://screenrant.com/wonder-woman-box-office-older-female-moviegoers/. Accessed 30 January 2018.

Hughes, Mark. ‘Wonder Woman’ is Officially the Highest-Grossing Superhero Origin Film. Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2017/11/02/wonder-woman-is-officially-the-highest-grossing-superhero-origin-film/#2e89e3b9ebd9. Accessed 30 January 2018.

Scott, Grace Lisa. ‘Wonder Woman’ Fans React to Oscars Snub in Pain and Memes: People are Bummed. Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/40478-wonder-woman-oscars-snub. Accessed 30 January 2018.

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