Academy Awards: Who is the “Academy” and What’ll They Favor for Best Picture

Oscar awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been around since 1927. This means we are moving towards the 93rd annual Oscars.

I had a question, who is the academy?

Because of recent film snuffs and, of course, the whole #OscarsSoWhite thing, I imagined that the academy was a bunch of monocle-earing, stuffy old white people in coattail suits and evening gowns. In my head, they exist in the secret studies around Los Angeles, London, and New York, doing things that only high-ranking freemasons would understand.

However, the academy is just a bunch of actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, production designers, stylists, artists, musicians, producers, marketing and PR directors, etc.  At this point, there are apparently 9,021 members.

There are 17 branches, but actors make up the most significant chunk of voting members. According to an article from NBC Washington, to be considered for membership, the prospect must be sponsored by two or more active members from the branch of which they will join. For example, a writer must be nominated for entrance by at least two other academy members in the writer’s branch.

So, maybe it is similar to what I thought? A bunch of stuffy old white guys.

That said since 2015 membership has diversified somewhat. Thirty-two percent are now women, and sixteen percent are people of color. Sixteen percent seems low, but it’s a step in the right direction when you realize that since 2015, that number has doubled. There has also been a significant increase in international membership – now estimated at twenty percent of the total membership.

So, which movies will win this year? Which films will be nominated for Best Picture?

The odds for Best Picture at top betting sites show that Nomadland is the current frontrunner to not only be nominated for Best Picture but to win.

After Chloé Zhao and Frances MacDomrond’s finge society piece, Mank is second on the odds boards to win the Oscar. And what we just learned, that the academy is diversifying but is still mostly made up of old white guys, I have to think that this period piece following the dramatic final days leading to the finishing of Citizen Kane and the battle for screenplay credit between Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles will get the final nod.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

However, we could see Da 5 Bloods or The Trial of the Chicago 7 catapulted onto the nomination boards with a great shot at winning due to the fact that the academy is under intense scrutiny. The Trial of the Chicago 7 would make sense, as it’s not only a great film and an important piece of history but it also almost a social commentary, given our current affairs.

I believe the bulk of the academy will have a hard time swallowing a title such as Da 5 Bloods. That said, it’s a Spike Lee flick, with the African Americans as the four main characters. So, it could be the virtue signal the academy needs to save face. On top of that, it’s a war film, or at least, a post-war film. And as we’ve seen time and time again, the academy loves war films.

one night in miami

But what about One Night in Miami? This is another that pushes on civil rights and will resonate with audiences all over the world. Maybe it won’t resonate with the larger chunk of the academy, consisting of old white males, but even old white guys love Cassis Clay and Jim Brown.

The movie that’s on the odds boards to win the Oscar for Best Picture that I 100% do not think will win – in fact, I don’t think it will even end up with an official nomination– is Soul. The storyline is wonderful. It’s about a struggling musician who leaves his body and ends up getting help from a new soul. However, the academy has been notoriously unkind to the award for Best Picture and animated movies.

Which movies do you think have the best chance of winning the award for Best Picture next April at the 2021 Academy Awards?

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