Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie were left out of the Best Director and Best Actress categories, respectively, and while the slights set social media on fire — "way to justify the literal plot of the movie" — there's now backlash to the backlash. Barbie received eight nominations, Gerwig and Robbie are nominated in other categories (including Best Picture) and America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling were both recognized for their award-worthy performances. Some are calling out how their nominations are overshadowed by outrage.
Here's what's going on, what Gosling and Ferrera are saying and how the situation could affect the Oscars race.
Barbie sits atop Oscar nominations but misses 3 expected categories
Barbie's eight nominations is behind Oppenheimer (13), Poor Things (11) and Killers of the Flower Moon (10). Robbie, a producer of the billion-dollar film, will get an Oscar if Barbie wins Best Picture. Gerwig is nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. (The fact Barbie was in this category to begin with stirred controversy and could have been a sign of things to come.) Barbie raked in more than $1.4 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing movie of the year and the highest-grossing film ever from a female filmmaker. That's why their exclusion is glaring.
It was also surprising that Dua Lipa's hit “Dance the Night Away” wasn't nominated for Best Music (Original Score). However, the film did have two other nominations in the category: “I'm Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?”
How are nominees even chosen?
Each member votes only on their branch's categories at the nomination stage, so actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors, etc. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees. (As for final votes, all categories are on the ballot for members.)
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the directors branch makes up less than 6% of the full Academy. It's also among the organization's oldest and most male, as it's currently 75% men, which could have been a factor in Gerwig's exclusion for Barbie. However, the category did see one woman nominated as Justine Triet (Anatomy of a Fall) was recognized. Ever since the Academy changed the Best Picture category to include 10 contenders, there's usually at least one uproar per year in the acting or directing categories, which recognizes only five nominees.
Anatomy of a Fall star Sandra Hüller was nominated in the Best Actress category this year taking what many believed to be Robbie's spot. As for the Academy's actors branch, it's just over 13% of members. Still, Gergwig's and Robbie's absence is nothing short of shocking, given Barbie's critical praise and box office accomplishments, and Gosling agrees.
Gosling 'disappointed' Robbie and Gerwig were not recognized
Social media went wild on Tuesday pointing out how ironic it is that Ken (Gosling) was nominated while Barbie (Robbie) was not.
You have to be a leading lady but you can’t be nominated for best actress. You have to be a strong female director but you can’t be nominated for best director. You have to have a wildly popular dance song but you can’t be nominated for best original song. pic.twitter.com/yhlpS4AdTv
— Adam (@adamgreattweet) January 23, 2024
In a statement, Gosling acknowledged that "there's no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film."
"To say that I'm disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement," Gosling, while grateful to the Academy for his nomination, said in a statement. "Against all odds with nothing but a couple of soulless, scantily clad, and thankfully crotchless dolls, they made us laugh, they broke our hearts, they pushed the culture and they made history. Their work should be recognized along with the other very deserving nominees."
Simu Liu, who also played Ken, reacted: "Being involved in a small way gave me a window into just how hard Greta and Margot had to fight to get Barbie made, and how flawlessly they executed. Together they started a movement, touched the world and reinvigorated the cinema."
Being involved in a small way gave me a window into just how hard Greta and Margot had to fight to get Barbie made, and how flawlessly they executed. Together they started a movement, touched the world and reinvigorated the cinema.
They deserve everything. They ARE everything.
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) January 24, 2024
Ferrera receives 1st-ever Oscar nomination, which is overshadowed by snub headlines
Ferrera, whose brilliant monologue in Barbie was one of the most talked-about scenes in cinema last year, was rightfully recognized in the Best Supporting Actress category. Although she said on the Today show she was excited about her nomination, she admitted there's "disappointment" about Gerwig and Robbie.
"It's just so undeniable what they created, how unprecedented, how unexpected," Ferrera said. “You know, Greta wrote this brilliant script with her partner and then as a director, created a whole world, and, to me, she is an incredible, masterful filmmaker."
People online are calling out how Barbie backlash is taking away from Ferrera's moment, especially as the Academy has faced criticism for not highlighting enough performances from people of color. (Remember the #OscarsSoWhite controversy?) Triet's nomination in the directing category is progress as well.
It’s so interesting that a lot of the white women complaining about Margot Robbie being “snubbed” aren’t celebrating fellow woman America Ferrera being nominated, but I’m sure you can see why that is…
— Meech (@MediumSizeMeech) January 23, 2024
What's incredible about the discourse surrounding Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig is that it has completely overshadowed the stories of Lily Gladstone, America Ferrera, Justine Triet, and Celine Song.
I love Barbie but it isn't the only story about strong women up for an Oscar.
— Josh Taylor (@ModernMouseJosh) January 24, 2024
this is still only the 8th time in Oscar history that there have been any female nominees in the Best Director category, sorry it’s not the one that made a billion dollars but still seems worth recognizing!
— Lindsay Zoladz (@lindsayzoladz) January 24, 2024
Have Robbie or Gerwig reacted?
How could this shake up the Oscars race?
Many in the entertainment industry are shocked that Robbie and Gerwig weren't individually nominated — so will Academy voters try to make up for it in other ways?
As of now, Oppenheimer has been sweeping up Best Picture awards, while Robert Downey Jr. seemingly has Best Supporting Actor in the bag. The Holdovers' Da’Vine Joy Randolph is considered the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress. When Ben Affleck was snubbed in the directing category for Argo at the 2013 Oscars, it helped the film gain momentum during awards season, and the movie ultimately won Best Picture. Could the same happen for Barbie? We'll find out when the Academy Awards take place on Sunday, March 10.