At this point, I’m only interested in watching the Oscars to see whether or not Get Out will win. Yes, I’m rooting for all 12 of the Black people that were nominated for an Academy Award this year, but Get Out is special. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut surpassed everyone’s expectations when a funny horror movie became a pivotal cultural moment. It was a condemnation of culture vulturing and an allegory on just how dangerous liberal racism — and its theoretical wife, white feminism — can be. Despite the fact that an entire year has passed since we yelled for Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) to literally get out, the message and sentiment of the film is still enduring, and probably will for a while to come. Get Out has been a strong contender during this awards season, and it’s in the running for four more awards come this Sunday’s Oscars. But will the film that introduced the rest of the world to the “sunken place” actually take home any wins?
I’m not the only one wondering. Gold Derby, the site dedicated to predicting winners for Hollywood award shows, has Get Out as a third place contender for Best Picture. However, one of their writers has made the film his pick to win, for a pretty good reason. In order to understand, you have to know how Academy voting works. For nearly all categories, voters simply cast their ballots, and the one with the most votes wins. The exception to this rule is Best Picture, in which voters rank the — in this year’s case nine — nominees. The film with the most consensus wins. In this case, outlets like Gold Derby are suggesting that even though the chances are slim for Get Out and Peele in the other categories — Guillermo Del Toro is expected to win Best Director for Shape of Water; it’s not likely that Daniel Kaluuya will win Best Actor against Denzel Washington or Gary Oldman; and many think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will take Best Original Screenplay — it could very well win in the Best Picture category. The logic is sound, but I don’t know if I’m convinced.
In response to repeated callouts about the Oscars being too damn white, the Academy has diversified the list of people they invite to become voting members over the last two years. But for now, the majority of voting members are still male and white. And while I’m not ruling out the fact that white dudes appreciated Get Out, too, I don’t know if they’ll find it superior to The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, or Lady Bird. Furthermore, I think that the surplus of second and third place rankings that many expect will help Get Out secure the win aren’t so set in stone. The Academy has been working on increasing its membership of both people of colour and women, and has seen an uptick in both. And while this is great overall, it could mean that those second and third place votes could easily go to the movie with the feminist message, making it harder for Get Out to snag the win. In other words, it's possible that the Oscars' diversity could make it even more difficult to choose between the movie that uplifts women's issues or the issues of people of colour.
Obviously, I’m rooting for Get Out. It was a groundbreaking film that offered something completely new to the horror genre and made white people uncomfortable in a necessary way. But I don’t know many instances where people of colour or their projects are rewarded for calling out the ways in which white supremacy works. And despite the Academy's changes in membership, the Oscars are still woefully white. To take Get Out seriously is to also acknowledge why it worked to cause a paradigm shift in our culture. To tap Get Out for the win is to also tap into the real deal of racism. Forgive me if I don’t think we’ve made it there yet.