The 2022 nods are a step forward for an award show that's long felt backward.
The future has been here for years, yet the Academy Awards have been defiantly backward. But this year’s list of Oscar nominees finally gives Gen-Zers and millennial viewers hope we’ll finally be acknowledged.
Today’s announcement was filled with Gen-Z chart-toppers, millennial titans, and actors older than both age groups who we’ve all been rooting for all our lives. For only the third time in his illustrious 30-plus year career, Will Smith received the Best Actor nomination for his stellar role as Serena and Venus Williams’ complicated father, Ricard Williams Jr., in King Richard. It’s also surprisingly only the second time in 21 years when Smith and Denzel Washington, nominated for his leading role in The Tragedy of Macbeth, have been up for the award in the same year. Of course, any millennial over the age of 30 will tell you 2021 and 2001 weren’t the only two years these men put on two of the best performances of the year, especially when The Preacher’s Wife and Independence Day came out five months apart in 1996. But, it’s nice that the heroes of the millennials are getting their respect.
Beyonce and Billie Eilish's nominations in the Best Original Song category will undoubtedly unify millennials and Gen-Zers in the shared adoration of these queens who are still at the top of their game. Beyonce is nominated for “Be Alive” (King Richard), and Eilish is nominated for “No Time To Die” (No Time To Die). Still, neither are surprising since Best Original Song has become the one category consistently giving the younger generation its just due. Last year, H.E.R. officially entered the running for an E.G.O.T. at 23 years old after winning the award for her stunning Judas and the Black Messiah song “Fight For You,” which is also up for Song of The Year at this year’s Grammy Awards. Whether it was Common and John Legend’s win for Selma’s “Glory” in 2014, Lady Gaga’s triumph in 2018 for A Star Is Born’s “Shallow,” or Kendrick Lamar and SZA receiving their first Oscar nominations the same year for “All The Stars” from Black Panther, the last decade of music from millennials and millennial idols has been too good for even the old Oscar voters to ignore.
Over the next month, until the 94th Academy Awards takes place on March 27, you’ll see swarms of millennials and Gen-Zers voicing their displeasure for Spider-Man: No Way Home’s lack of a Best Picture nomination. While Black Panther became the first Marvel film nominated for Best Picture in 2018, that was a cultural exception to the rule about comic book films not containing the necessary depth to compete in the category. However, this year’s Oscars marks only the second time two films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Spider-Man and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — have been nominated for Best Visual Effects in the same year. This could also finally be the year Marvel breaks its curse of never winning the award, a travesty since Thanos turning half of the world into ashes is cinema’s single most memorable visual feat in a decade. At least Andrew Garfield scored a Best Actor nomination, even if it’s for tick, tick...BOOM!, and not for expanding the spiderverse by reprising his role as Spider-Man in No Way Home.
After the 2021 Oscars were watched by the fewest people in the awards’ history, the millennials and Gen-Z crowd stanning for their favorites again could save the award show that’s fought so hard to live in the past.