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(Credit: Netflix)

Film

Listen Up...It would be a crime if ‘Don’t Look Up’ won an Oscar

@Russellisation

Included as an annual wildcard every year of the Academy Awards is a Best Picture nominee that no one wanted or thought deserved its place in the category. In 2018 it was Bohemian Rhapsody, in 2020 it was The Trial of the Chicago 7 and in 2022 it’s Don’t Look Up Netflix and Adam McKay’s ‘critical social comment’ on the trouble with modern society that fails to hit the mark entirely. 

Stuffed with Hollywood fodder including Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Kid Cudi and Timothée Chalamet, Don’t Look Up becomes a flipbook of trivial celebrities that isn’t as important as its bloated ego thinks it is. Telling a limp story about the collapse of society following the announcement of an apocalyptic meteorite heading straight for earth, Adam McKay falls short at reaching the greatness of his previous films. 

Nominated for four Academy Awards to the film’s detriment, including Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay, each of these awards works not to celebrate the ‘greatness’ of the film, but to simply highlight its multiple shortcomings. 

Looking into each nomination, let’s discover why it would be a crime if Don’t Look Up won any of the four Oscar categories it’s included in. 

Why it would be a crime if ‘Don’t Look Up’ won an Oscar:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Celebrating the finest film of the past year, recently the Academy Awards have bucked their own trend by awarding the Oscar for Best Motion Picture to the greatest recipient possible, recognising Nomadland and Parasite in the past two years. Elevating diverse voices such as Chloé Zhao and Bong Joon-ho, the awards show has done well to change its ways. 

Awarding Don’t Look Up with the award for Best Picture would undo all this hard work, celebrating a film that is far from the greatest movie of 2021, whilst ignoring genuine modern pioneers such as Teruhisa Yamamoto, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jane Campion. 

Unassertive in properly addressing the subtext that lies at the core of the film, Don’t Look Up comes across as an ill-thought high-school exercise that can barely stand on its own two feet in cinematic practicality. 

Best Achievement in Film Editing

The inclusion of Don’t Look Up in the Best Picture, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay categories is absurd, but its nomination in the award for Best Achievement in Film Editing may be the biggest joke of all. The editing of Adam McKay’s disaster movie is far from excellent, in fact, it’s exceedingly poor. 

Clocking in at just under two and half hours, the film has a serious pacing problem, often feeling unbearably slow throughout its runtime that strains as it packs in a truckload of excess baggage into the second act. In need of a trip back to the editing room, Don’t Look Up is in need of several more edits to cut it down and get rid of several needless celebrity cameos and extraneous scenes and subplots. 

Worried that the audience won’t understand its painfully laboured message, the film is stuffed with so much metaphorical imagery it bloats the film and turns it into an obscure lecture rather than an enjoyable ride. It’s also hard to ignore the ‘intentional’ error in the film that wasn’t caught in the edit, with several people noticing a masked-up film crew being clearly visible in the corner of one specific shot. 

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

If Adam McKay’s overhyped Oscar-nominated film was a careful, intense drama spiked with ingenious social messaging, then maybe it might be worthy of a win for Best Original Score. Though, as it is, whilst the score is good, it’s not worthy of the film’s barren imagery

With music from Nicholas Britell, featuring Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi and Bon Iver, the soundtrack is modern and lively, providing some much-needed electricity to the lifeless movie and on its own provides a solid amount of enjoyment. 

Of all its nominated awards, this is the one that feels somewhat justified, though even still, it would certainly be a crime if the likes of the Dune score by Hans Zimmer, or the soundtrack for Encanto by Germaine Franco were to lose out to Nicholas Britell’s middling work. 

Best Original Screenplay

An apocalyptic threat, social ambivalence and mocking contemporary satire, the basic concept for Don’t Look Up isn’t particularly original, and neither is it, by any standards, ‘great’. 

Failing as a result of its own nonsensical comparison of a fictional meteor strike and the real-life crisis of climate change, it is the fault of the Don’t Look Up screenplay that makes it such a monumental failure. Lacking clear focus, the film seems constantly distracted by moments of irrelevant satire that are neither enlightening nor funny as it drags out its runtime to accommodate for an increasing amount of eye-rolling celebrity cameos. 

Overwritten in its tedious length and laboured message, and underwritten in its narrative coherence, just like the edit of the film itself, the screenplay is in need of several more rewrites until it’s in a place of true quality.