Jordan Peele’s brilliant racial satire Get Out could be getting ready to make an Oscar run. For months now, the film has been in the conversation for geeks like me, but as Martin Lawrence put it in Bad Boys II, “s**t just got real.”
Get Out took a major step in the marathon that is the awards race Thursday by racking up a leading four nominations from the Gotham Awards, where it will compete for Best Feature, Best Screenplay (Peele), Breatkthrough Director (Peele again), and Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya, as a photographer who uncovers a deeply sinister plot while visiting the rural suburban home of his white girlfriend’s affluent parents).
The Gotham Awards are doled out by the Independent Film Project, and Get Out stands out among the nominees for its major studio distributor (Universal) in a pool filled with indie companies like A24 (The Florida Project, Lady Bird), Sony Pictures Classics (Call Me By Your Name), and Neon (I, Tonya), and streaming giants Amazon (The Big Sick) and Netflix (Mudbound). Given the studio brawn behind its release, and massive $175 million box-office haul, it’s easy to forget Get Out was produced by horror hitmaker Jason Blum, et al. for a “mere” $4.8 million — or $200,000 less than the Sundance comedy The Big Sick.
But Get Out will ultimately differentiate itself in the awards derby because of the type of film it is. Namely, a genre movie; and namelier, a horror movie.
The Academy is famous for its aversion to scary movies. Psycho (1960), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Halloween (1978), The Shining (1980), The Thing (1982): These are all classic films that had their hopes of a Best Picture nomination ultimately bludgeoned.
You can count the “true” horror films that have competed for Best Picture over the past 50 years on one hand: They are The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), and The Sixth Sense (1999). Even if you add quasi-horror films like The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Black Swan (2010), you’re still on one hand.
So the historical odds are not in Get Out’s favor, but there are plenty factors that are: The film was not only a critical and commercial hit, but it dominated the zeitgeist for months after its release as audiences debated its deeper syntaxes, discovered its heaping assortment of Easter eggs, and sprinted all over the damn place as part of the #GetOutChallenge meme.
Get Out Is the type of mass-consumed entertainment meant to benefit from the Academy’s decision to expand the Best Picture pool from five nominees to its current confusing, algorithmically dictated number (between five and 10) — an adjustment that finally paid dividends for a mainstream favorite with Mad Max: Fury Road’s nod in 2015. And Get Out is definitely a film that stands to benefit from the Academy’s efforts to make its voting body younger and more diverse in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite.
A Best Picture nomination, at this point, looks promising: Of the 24 awards experts on the awards-tracking site Gold Derby, 20 currently predict it will make the cut (including yours truly). Peele stands a much smaller chance of competing for Best Director, though he should land in the Best Original Screenplay category. After those races, it may not register elsewhere on the ballot, though I would love to see Catherine Keener in the mix for Best Supporting Actress for that haunting hypnosis sequence alone.
As for the film’s Gotham Award nominations, don’t dismiss them. The Gothams predicted Oscar’s Best Picture winner the past three years (Moonlight, Spotlight, and Birdman). There also tends to be a cumulative effect to awards season, once a film or person scores a string of early accolades, it just keeps going. The Gotham haul, then, may have just helped legitimize Get Out’s long-term chances.
Watch the hilarious impressions that Jordan Peele busted out while directing Get Out:
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