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Every year, the Oscar nominations are met with celebration and frustration as brilliant work is recognized and snubbed in equal measure. This year, one of the perceived snubs that received the most backlash was the lack of any female nominees in the Best Director category. It made some question whether the Oscar voters had even watched the movies, including 2010 Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan.
So should Oscar voters have to prove they’ve watched the movies? Carey Mulligan certainly thinks so. Addressing the possible female director nominees who didn’t make it in this year, Carey Mulligan said:
I don’t think you can watch those films and not think they deserve recognition. I think they need to be watched. I wonder if the system works in terms of getting sent 100 screeners. Maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to vote unless you can prove you’ve seen every single one. There should be a test. The films that did get left out are indisputably brilliant.
Carey Mulligan seems to have some doubts about the way the system is currently set up given the caliber of the films that go unrecognized. The members of the Academy are sent screeners and it’s on them to watch them. Then they vote based on what they think of the movies. But that process may not necessarily be the best if deserving movies are not nominated.
The actress doesn’t understand how Academy members can watch certain movies and not think they deserve recognition. Carey Mulligan was specifically perplexed by how Hustlers, Little Women and The Farewell, all films directed by women, were not nominated in the Best Director category, and seems to believe that if voters actually watched them, they would have been nominated.
So in her conversation with Variety, Carey Mulligan mused on a possible way to remedy the situation, and that would be to not allow Academy members to vote unless they’ve seen all the movies in question.
The obvious response to that would be, ‘Well, how do you prove it?’ Carey Mulligan suggested that there be a test that Oscar voters would have to take in order to prove they’ve seen all the movies and are taking their experience with each one into account when casting their votes. I assume that such a test would ask questions about the films that only someone who has seen them could answer.
That way, the nominees and eventual Oscar winners are not the product of low information Academy voters who have only seen a few of the films and/or are just voting for people they like or based on some criteria not related to the film itself.
I don’t think you’ll find too many movie fans that would take umbrage with Carey Mulligan’s opinion here. It seems obvious that if you’re voting on something, you should be fully informed about each of your choices. When it comes to Oscar voting, that means seeing all of the movies.
It’s tough though, because busy industry professionals don’t necessarily have time to see every movie that's in contention. But perhaps there is a way to do what Carey Mulligan suggested by having voters prove what they’ve seen and only allow them to vote in the categories where they’ve seen every film, while abstaining from the rest.
It’s not perfect, but it might be an improvement. But even under that system, there would still be snubs. Because while you can say X film or Y person got snubbed, these categories have a limited number of nominees. If you sub someone in, that means you’re inevitably snubbing someone else by taking them out. Art is subjective and the films left out may be brilliant, but so are the ones that made it in, so there are no easy answers that will please everyone.