The director Greta Gerwig, too, missed out on the big prize, failing to get a best director nomination.
The patriarchy strikes again.
“Barbie,” of course, is the annoying, occasionally entertaining, $1.4 billion feminist parable that was made into an unstoppable cultural juggernaut last year. In certain circles, if you didn’t like it, you had to make yourself like it.
According to the movie’s devotees, Ken getting all the glory is something straight out of the film’s male-dominated dystopia that the Barbie dolls must muster the courage to resist.
Gosling struck a decidedly apologetic note. “There is no Ken without Barbie,” he said, “and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally celebrated film.”
If he wins the Oscar, he will have to give it back, or promise to melt down the statue.
It’s not as though the academy neglected “Barbie.” The movie got eight Oscar nominations, including for best picture. That it didn’t get two more doesn’t exactly constitute a cosmic injustice.
As cinephile Giancarlo Sopo points out, it’s not that unusual for a film to get nominated for best picture, yet not get a best director or best actress or actor nomination. It happened, for instance, to “Jaws,” “Towering Inferno” and “Field of Dreams.”
It’s become an even more common occurrence since the academy moved to 10 best picture nominations, up from the five in the other categories. That means five people necessarily direct a best-picture-nominated film and don’t get a best-director nomination every year — it’s a matter of math.
This fate befell Gerwig, but we shouldn’t feel too sorry for her.
First, she was nominated for best adapted screenplay for “Barbie.” Her first two forays as a solo filmmaker were “Lady Bird” and “Little Women,” and she got nominated for best director and best original screenplays for the former and best adapted screenplay for the latter.
Suffice it to say that the academy likes Greta Gerwig.
As for Robbie, she is without a doubt a very talented actress and already has a couple of prior Oscar nominations of her own.
It’s true that it’s hard to see how they could have found anyone better suited to play Barbie. But for the impossibly gorgeous Robbie to play a perfect-looking plastic doll was not the most challenging role.
Why did Gosling get nominated instead? Well, he’s competing in an entirely different category. And the academy might have thought he managed to make more of a limited — indeed, supporting — role.
Still, no one is going to mistake his performance as a supporting actor for, say, Robert De Niro in “Godfather II” or Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter.”
If “Barbie” and its makers and performers are supposed to be privileged over other possible nominees and winners, it’d lead to perverse results even by politically correct standards.
It’s important to remember that all the other nominees who beat out Robbie in the best actress category are … women.
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Robbie was probably bumped for a nomination by Annette Benning, a 65-year-old actress who plays the marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, a lesbian, in the movie “Nyad.” Who’s more deserving on feminist grounds?
Meanwhile, if the academy feels guilted into giving Gerwig the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, it will have to skip over Cord Jefferson, an African American, nominated for “American Fiction.”
The Oscar nominations — inadvertently, to be sure — show that life doesn’t have to be as simplistic and monochromatic as depicted in “Barbie.”