The 96th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best films of 2023, was held on Sunday night. However, the Academy largely ignored one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Barbie, receiving only two nominations and no wins.
Barbie: A groundbreaking film
Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, was a biographical drama that chronicled the life and career of the iconic doll, from her creation in 1959 to her global impact and controversies. Critics and audiences praised the film’s witty script, stunning visuals, and nuanced performances. Robbie, who also produced the film, was hailed as the perfect choice to play Barbie, capturing her charm, intelligence, and resilience.
The film was a box office success, grossing over $500 million worldwide, and received several accolades from various film festivals and critics associations. It was widely expected to be a major contender at the Oscars, especially in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Oscars snub
However, when the Oscar nominations were announced in January, Barbie was only nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Original Song while being snubbed in all the other major categories. Many fans and industry insiders expressed shock and disappointment at the Academy’s decision, accusing them of being biased, sexist, and out of touch.
Some reasons cited for the snub were the Academy’s preference for more severe and conventional dramas, the lack of diversity and representation among the voters, and the backlash against Barbie as a feminist icon and a cultural phenomenon. Some also speculated that the film’s release date in December, which coincided with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, might have hurt its chances of being seen and appreciated by the voters.
The Bias Against Dolls
Among the animated films that have been nominated for the Best Picture award, none of them feature dolls as the main characters. Dolls are rarely seen as protagonists or supporting characters in animated films unless they are part of a larger ensemble of toys, such as in the Toy Story franchise. Why is that? Is it because dolls are seen as childish, feminine, or superficial? Is it because they are associated with consumerism, commodification, or conformity? Or is it because they are not considered artistic or cinematic subjects?
The Case for Barbie
One of the most iconic and influential dolls in history is Barbie, created by Ruth Handler in 1959. Barbie has been a cultural phenomenon for over six decades, inspiring generations of girls and women to pursue their dreams and express their individuality. Barbie has also been a prolific star of the screen, appearing in more than 40 animated films since 1987, as well as several live-action adaptations and TV shows. However, none of these films have ever been nominated for an Oscar or any other major award, for that matter.