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How long will it take for Greta Gerwig to be approved to direct ‘Barbie’?

Last year was an unusually strong year for cinema, and Academy Award nominations It reflects much of this powerful and vital work announced Tuesday. It happens from time to time, and it happened last movie year: Two of the three biggest popular hits were actually good and deserved the many nominations they received. I’m talking about “Oppenheimer” (13 nods) and “Barbie” (8 nods). Meanwhile, the terrific “Poor Things” came in at 11; “Killers of the Flower Moon” 10. Look to win the “Oppenheimer” first prize at the ceremony on March 10.

Unfortunately, the Oscar nomination list also has a faint, fishy smell.

No Greta Gerwig for the best director award? No Margot Robbie for best actress in a leading role? For “Barbie”? Really?

Yes, this year’s list of best director nominees is incredibly competitive. And yes, there is a female director on this list of five: France’s Justine Triet, who has been widely and deservedly praised since her triumph at the Cannes Film Festival last May with “Anatomy of a Fall,” a mix of clever and insidious murder. director. mystery, courtroom drama and secrets inside any marriage.

But I wonder. I wonder if the Academy directors who chose the five directorial nominees engaged in some questionable, old-school bargaining with themselves and their decisions.

I wonder if we have collectively decided, by chance or conscious choice, that the only thing God has allowed this year, because we have Martin Scorsese (“The Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Christopher Nolan (who will win for “Oppenheimer”), is a woman? did they give? ), Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”) and Jonathan Glazer (the most tense movie nominated in the director and best picture categories, “The Zone of Interest”) are already set to make the five-person list.

Of course, Gerwig won’t be invisible on Oscar night. He and his partner and “Barbie” co-writer, Noah Baumbach, picked the nomination for adapted screenplay. Which was the wrong category. “Barbie” may have been inspired by a line of Mattel products, but when you create a story and world entirely out of fabric, plastic and vivid imagination, it really becomes a more original scenario.

As for Robbie: Yes, he’s one of the nominated producers behind Best Picture nominee “Barbie.” But if I were running the zoo, I’d certainly make room for Robbie’s accurate and unexpectedly nuanced portrayal, replacing Annette Bening, who did a fine job in the not-so-nice movie “Nyad,” I think.

On Tuesday morning, ABC-TV pundits and other awards season commentators recently talked about how “Barbie” is big enough not to cause industry resentment or at least lead to the award being snubbed, especially since there’s so much other good work to be recognized. A recurring phrase in ABC’s pre- and post-nomination coverage was “genre bias”; this meant that “Barbie” was a comedy and therefore lesser. That’s right, it’s a comedy. It’s a thoughtful, surprisingly moving film that tackles, scene by scene, the commercialized, routinized gender biases of Hollywood and the world more broadly.

And now the Oscars have made sure that “Barbie” still lives with and within that prejudice.

Despite all this? This year, the nominations from the 93 different countries of origin of the Academy’s voting members spanned a very nice range of quality. Lily Gladstone made history as the first Native American to be nominated for best actress (“Flower Moon”). In an infinite mixed blessing for the future lifespan of the theatrical showcase, Netflix got a better showing than it deserved, with nominations for “Nyad” and the arguably over-nominated “Maestro” (though worth seeing). In other news: Colman Domingo’s first nomination in the best actor category for his role in “Rustin”? Open. The. Money.

Domingo’s friends, nominated for acting debuts, represent the talents and versatility of a killer. I wanted to say! Jeffrey Wright (best actor, “American Fiction”). Sandra Hüller (best actress, “Anatomy of a Fall”). Da’Vine Joy Randolph (supporting actress, “The Holdovers”). Randolph will definitely win; she has won almost everything she can with her performance so far.

Other first-time Oscar nominees include Emily Blunt (supporting actress, “Oppenheimer”). Cillian Murphy (best actor, “Oppenheimer”). Sterling K. Brown (supporting actor, “American Fiction”). America Ferrara (supporting actress, “Barbie”). And Danielle Brooks (co-star, “The Color Purple”).

“Are you there, God?” Would I lose a supporting actress nominee to make room for Rachel McAdams in the movie? Is it me, Margaret?” Yes. But it’s like this in almost every category every year. The Oscars are there to disappoint, aggravate and confirm our doubts. And confirming our excellent taste when we agree with the results.

However, there are a few nagging traditions that should be left in the rearview mirror. Genre bias is one. The old axiom “dying is easy; The saying “comedy is hard” also applies to Oscar recognition.

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Gender bias is another thing. “Barbie” is the third consecutive film Gerwig directed, wrote or co-wrote to be nominated for best picture without a best director nomination. Her first three films: “Lady Bird,” “Little Women” and “Barbie.”

We’re past the point where it seems…wrong to overlook this volatile talent come Oscar time. It smells. It is one of Hollywood’s most enduring and long-lasting scents. And as Will Ferrell said of Paul Rudd’s cologne in “Anchorman”: It stings his nostrils.

The 96th Academy Awards will be held March 10 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, broadcast on ABC-TV.

Read Tribune reviews of Oscar-nominated films:

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.

mjphillips@chicagotribune.com

excitement @phillipstribune



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