As I write this column, Jordan Peele’s Get Out rolls on HBO — since seeing it in theaters, I’ve only screened the whole movie once, more often sleepily viewing it in premium channel chunks. Yet, I’ve probably seen it a total of eight times all told. Truthfully, it gets better each time. Hyperboles aside, I’m willing to call the film a modern masterpiece. Already, it has transcended mere 2018 Oscar contender and become one of those movies I watch every time I randomly see it on, joining the illustrious ranks of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Dark Knight, basically any Coen Bros. movie, and many others that don’t come to mind right now.
Okay, so it’s evident that I dig this movie. In fact, I wrote a review of this flick when I saw it upon its release over a year ago. Even then, however, I couldn’t — or didn’t — contemplate it being up for FOUR of the POWER FIVE Oscars. Not that I didn’t think it was worthy, just that “it wasn’t the kind of movie the Academy usually celebrates” — whatever the hell that means. To be fair, I typically disagree with some of the Academy’s selections. Many folks complain that those movies are “boring” or “artsy fartsy.” And you know what, even as a movie guy, I hear those criticisms loud and clear, man. Rarely are the films that captivate a wide audience and dominate the box office the ones featured on film’s biggest stage, especially those in the horror/suspense/drama/whatever the hell genre Get Out is in.
Undeniably, this nomination in particular is proof that we’re finally starting to feel the effects of the Chris Nolan-sized hole in the Best Picture category exactly 10 years ago. For those that don’t remember, the Academy broadened Best Picture to ten instead of its previous five in 2008 after backlash when Nolan’s cape-and-cowled crime drama was “snubbed” from all Academy contention — outside of Heath Ledger taking home the gold for his Joker, of course. Unfortunately, what started as the best plans ended up laid to waste as the subsequent nominations now generally consist of TEN “artsy fartsy” movies instead of the previous FIVE (albeit with a few exceptions). Star Wars sure ain’t walking through that door, even though The Last Jedi had more balls and gravitas than half the noms this year. But I digress…
Being a black person in a room of white people would, frankly, be some scary shit. A book can be written — and indeed, a class is already taught — about Get Out‘s themes. Fear. Modern racism. The depiction and perception of “blackness.” White privilege. And, most importantly, survival. But this piece isn’t about the themes of the movie — much better articles that I dare not touch have already been written about that. This piece is about whether the Academy can stomach forking over the well-deserved rewards to Jordan Peele come ceremony time. “Would you say being African American in America is advantage… or disadvantage,” an Asian businessman asks Get Out‘s main character, Chris. The scariest part of this flick is that question likely being asked in real life. Even scarier, is Jordan Peele being black himself an advantage or disadvantage to his likelihood of winning these Oscars? How’s that for topical?
Alright, let’s break it down. As it stands, Get Out is currently nominated for the following awards:
- Best Picture — Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Sean McKittrick, etc.
- Best Actor — Daniel Kaluuya
- Best Director — Jordan Peele
- Best Original Screenplay — Jordan Peele
Best Picture — Of the four nominations, this would clearly be the coup de gras. It’s not the favorite so far — that belongs to Three Billboards — but it would certainly be a bold choice for an Academy struggling to prove it’s capable of making bold choices.
Best Actor — Probably the least likely. Kaluuya turns in a brilliant performance (did y’all know he’s actually British), especially during the now-infamous “Sunken Place” scene. Kaluuya channels a child’s fear caught in man’s body, and the way he’s able to present those emotions through a blank face is nothing short of stunning. Kaluuya does a lot with fairly minimal dialogue, but I’m not sure it’s enough to overpower the loaded category including Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman. It seems Oldman is destined to win, as these “career legacy” awards seem to be the recent trend.
Best Director — Preposterously, this is Jordan Peele’s — of Key & Peele fame — directorial debut. Talk about coming up aces? This is like a rookie hitting a walk-off in his first game in the Majors. Or LeBron James actually winning a title with the 2003-2010 Cavs. In other words, this is damn impressive. It’s clear from his years in sketch comedy that Peele has the natural talent and ability to work with actors and assemble compelling scenes. Further — and something I particularly love — is that Peele evidently has a propensity for horror movies. Get Out is riddled with Kubrickian homage, with a little Hitchcock, Carpenter, and David Lynch mixed in for good measure. If ever the horror genre was dying on the vine, it’s now back and healthy in the vineyard, y’all!
Best Original Screenplay — A dark horse candidate with Three Billboard‘s witty-ass and deeply emotional script being the obvious frontrunner. But I would posit that Get Out‘s script is screenplay writing 101. With the masterful set-ups and payoffs, concise dialogue, and non-bloated story, what else can you ask for? Yeah, there aren’t any long “Oscar” speeches or epic paragraphs of prose, but this script is tight AF. Enough typing, y’all can read it HERE — if you’re so inclined.
Come March 4th, I just hope the Academy voters aren’t too busy beholding the COAGULA to get their heads out of their asses and send some recognition where it’s appropriately and desperately well-deserved. I know one thing: if The Post or Call Me By Your Name win, I’ll descend right into The Sunken Place on the spot.
[banner image from HypeBeast]