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‘Barbie’ Wasn’t Snubbed at the Oscars

Complaining about the film’s missing nominations minimizes what women in film have accomplished this year
Former+Secretary+of+State+Hillary+Clinton%E2%80%99s+tweet+in+support+of+%E2%80%9CBarbie%E2%80%9D+illustrates+the+corporate+feminism+which+underpins+the+%E2%80%9Csnub%E2%80%9D+discourse.
TARA LENTELL
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tweet in support of “Barbie” illustrates the corporate feminism which underpins the “snub” discourse.

The Academy of Motion Pictures released its official list of nominees for the 2024 Academy Awards on Jan. 23. Fifty-three different films were nominated for awards, most notably Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which racked up thirteen nominations. It is “Oppenheimer’s” summer blockbuster competitor, “Barbie,” however, that has consumed much of the online Oscars discourse following the nominations announcement. 

“Barbie” received eight nominations, including best picture and best supporting actor for Ryan Gosling, who played Ken in the film. Despite this recognition, most of the online commentary regarding “Barbie’s” nominations revolve around Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig’s “snubs” for best leading actress and best director respectively. People should stop complaining about them not being nominated because the outrage online takes attention away from the accomplishments of women in film in 2023.

According to Charles Curtis of USA Today, Robbie’s omission proves the point of “Barbie’s” plotline: that women face extra struggles compared to men in a contemporary patriarchal society. In the article, he cited his opinion in agreement with many fans of “Barbie” on X, formerly known as Twitter. Many of the posts linked in the article are about how the film’s themes regarding sexism and misogyny’s presence in modern society are validated by the Academy dismissing Robbie.

While sexism and misogyny are real, contemporary issues in modern society, placing Gosling’s nomination side-by-side with Robbie’s “snub” as “proving the film’s point” is completely asinine. Although I did not consider Gosling’s performance to be worthy of nomination either, his selection doesn’t come at the expense of Robbie’s, as they were never up for the same category. Pinning the two against each other doesn’t make sense.

Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times shared Curtis’ sentiment. In an article published on Jan. 23, McNamara explained her stance by attacking the performances of this year’s favorites in the best actress category instead of providing any thoughtful reasons for her viewpoint. 

McNamara opened her article with crude and demeaning synopses of the performances of Emma Stone in “Poor Things,” Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Sandra Hüller in “Anatomy of a Fall.” Reducing their performances to plastered skeletons of their films’ plotlines as McNamara did is incredibly ignorant, especially when their respective films also tackle feminism, as Gerwig’s “Barbie” is lauded for doing. 

While sexism and misogyny are real, contemporary issues in modern society, placing Gosling’s nomination side-by-side with Robbie’s “snub” as “proving the film’s point” is completely asinine.

Stone, Gladstone and Hüller all portray interesting and complex characters who face incredible challenges that deal with the patriarchy in a much more subtle and imaginative manner. 

In “Poor Things,” Stone portrays Bella Baxter, a woman with an infant’s brain who constantly and unapologetically rejects the societal norms set for women. As Molly Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Gladstone encapsulates the pain and suffering of a people who were the victims of a genocide. Hüller’s character, Sandra Voyter, is tried for the murder of her husband as her mistakes as a partner, parent and professional are aired out during trial. 

McNamara’s attack on the three best lead actress performances of 2023 is not the way to make an argument for Robbie to receive a nomination. 

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton also voiced her outrage regarding the omissions of Gerwig and Robbie on X. In her post, she said, “Greta and Margot, while it can sting to win the box office but not take home the gold, your millions of fans love you.” Clinton alluded to the similarities between the Academy’s supposed neglect of Gerwig and Robbie despite the film’s popularity to her loss in the 2016 presidential election despite winning the popular vote.

Pointing out “Barbie’s” “snubs” while completely disregarding those of “Past Lives” reeks of the ignorance tied to the virtue signaling of corporate feminism present in much of the discussion surrounding these nominations.

Being 2023’s top movie at the box office, “Barbie” was bound to be at the center of Oscars discussions. This, combined with the more overt feminist message from the film, gave Clinton a layup to publicly call out the Academy for being anti-feminist. 

Clinton did not, however, reprimand the Academy for disregarding both “Past Lives” director Celine Song and lead actress Greta Lee. Similar to Gerwig and Robbie, Song and Lee were not nominated for best director and lead actress, although “Past Lives” was nominated for best picture. 

It is unsurprising that other critically-acclaimed films with feminist themes that didn’t pack the same box office punch — films such as “Past Lives” — are not given the same treatment. Pointing out “Barbie’s”  “snubs” while completely disregarding those of “Past Lives” reeks of the ignorance tied to the virtue signaling of corporate feminism present in much of the discussion surrounding these nominations.

Instead of putting other actresses down, we should uplift and spotlight the accomplishments of women in film this past year. Gladstone became the fourth Indigenous actress nominated for best actress and the first ever Native American to receive the nomination. Justine Triet and “Anatomy of a Fall” received five nominations despite the fact that France did not submit the film for the best international feature category due to Triet’s outspoken criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron. Additionally, Song’s debut film “Past Lives” received nominations for best picture and best original screenplay. Song became the first Asian American woman ever to receive a nomination for best original screenplay.

Despite their omissions in the actress and director categories, both Robbie and Gerwig did in fact receive nominations for their work on “Barbie.” Robbie’s role as a producer of the film landed her a nomination in the best picture category, while Gerwig received a nomination for her screenwriting in the best adapted screenplay category. They each received nominations for their hard work, which deserves to be celebrated.

The discourse surrounding “Barbie” nominations is wrong and disrespectful to other films in addition to other actresses in the industry. Awards ceremonies are supposed to be celebrations of people’s achievements in their respective fields, and the Oscars is no exception. In a year with as many great films as 2023, it’s important that we applaud more than just 2023’s most popular film.



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About the Contributor
TARA LENTELL, Creative Director
Tara Lentell (she/her), FCLC ’25, is the creative director for The Observer. She is originally from Kansas City and is majoring in international political economy on the pre-law track. When not making graphics or working on The Observer, she can be found watching television, reading a book or exploring a new museum in New York City.

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