Deciding which of nine Best Picture nominees should take home this year’s Oscar on March 4 was no easy ask for respondents to the latest Reporter Newspapers survey. And that may be a good sign for the Academy Awards, whose presenters have attempted to make the Oscars more diverse. Respondents still had plenty of suggestions for ways the Oscars could better honor their favorite films and filmmakers.
“Dunkirk,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Get Out” topped the list of Best Picture picks from the 200 respondents to the unscientific cellphone survey, conducted in Reporter and Atlanta INtown communities via 1Q.com.
Some respondents said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did a good job of selecting Best Picture nominees. Others said they should nominate more often in such genres as action films and comedies. Some respondents suggested an element of popular voting.
“I think the Academy has lost touch with what viewers find worthy. [It] would be interesting if they let average Americans weigh in on who should win,” said a 46-year-old Atlanta woman.
If the Academy is anything like the survey respondents, its members will make a close call on Best Picture. For survey respondents, it was essentially a tie between three films: the true-story World War II movie “Dunkirk”; “Three Billboards,” in which a woman challenges local authorities for not solving her daughter’s murder; and “Get Out,” a racially charged horror mystery.
Filling out the field were “Darkest Hour,” “Lady Bird,” “The Post,” “The Shape of Water,” “Call Me by Your Name” and “Phantom Thread,” which acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis has said will be his last film.
The Oscar nominees and winners are selected by a relatively small, elite, invitation-only group whose tastes have been criticized over the years as not representing all movies and audiences. Several years ago, the Academy ended a six-decade practice of nominating only five films for Best Picture and moved to today’s longer, flexible slate to put more types of films in the running. A 2016 controversy over the Academy’s overwhelmingly older, white male membership led to a massive effort to diversify its ranks and the films it recognizes.
Some survey respondents said the Academy has room for improvement on both counts.
“They need to recognize the artistry and production value of sci-fi,” a 48-year-old Sandy Springs woman commented. “Not every movie that wins needs to be about a serious topic.”
“I think breaking down the categories similar to the Golden Globes is a better way to honor multiple movies,” said a 41-year-old DeKalb County man who likes historical dramas and action/adventure films.
“I love movies with strong female leads and true tales of feminist heroism. I also love to see an ethnically diverse talent pool,” said a 28-year-old Atlanta woman. “I would like to see the Academy recognize women and minorities with more regularity.”
Others – especially fans of dramas – said the Oscar nominations are solid.
“The awards shows seem to do a good job of honoring these. In fact I usually find out about good dramas from the ceremony even if the movies aren’t showing near me,” said a 51-year-old Atlanta woman.
Some respondents love movies, but aren’t interested in the political moments that often arise on the Oscars broadcast itself.
“I like movies that cause me to think, both during and after,” said a 51-year-old Atlanta man. But, he added, “I place zero emphasis on awards shows such as the Academy Awards. They exist primarily to generate revenue for the owners and have become platforms for celebrities to espouse their personal opinions about the world, no matter how biased and even hypocritical they may be.”
Many others are ready to sit back, root for a favorite and see who wins.
Here’s what some respondents had to say
I like comedies and drama. I also like films featuring all African American casts. The Academy Awards could be more inclusive of minorities.
– 39-year-old DeKalb County woman
The Academy needs to get with the times and let the viewers choose the winners instead of allowing only the Academy members to choose the winners.
– 50-year-old Buckhead man
I like true stories. Dark [and] sad doesn’t bother me. Comedies are not my thing. I think the Academy Award already honors those. It’s definitely not about silly blockbusters.
– 53-year-old Sandy Springs woman
I like scary movies such as “Annabelle,” “Insidious” and many more. They should give a scary movie awards for those who are fans of it.
– 18-year-o ld woman in north Buckhead/Sandy Springs
I really like original-content movies. I am tired of superheroes and reboots. The Academy could do more to honor them by highlighting more of the crew and writing talent who actually create the films.
– 32-year-old Atlanta man
I love action movies, and often the acting in them is not credited – Heath Ledger’s the Joker in “The Dark Knight” is one of the only superhero acting roles credited with an Oscar. Yes, these movies win special affects awards or soundtrack awards, but I believe the acting should be more focused on as these movies become more and more complex.
– 18-year-old woman in north Buckhead/Sandy Springs
Give a voice to more independent films and documentaries by giving them a prominent position in the awards.
– 51-year-old Atlanta woman
I think movies that people actually saw and had a cultural impact should be honored.
– 29-year-old Atlanta man
1Q is an Atlanta-based start-up that sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text messages. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting “REPORTER” to 86312.