When it comes to Academy Award nominations, if there is one thing you can count on each year it's that there will be snubs with some films and performances being overlooked. And when it comes to Sorry to Bother You not receiving a single coveted Oscar nomination, star Armie Hammer is speaking out about how he may be disappointed, but he's certainly not surprised.
Speaking with IndieWire at the Sundance Film Festival, Hammer said that from his perspective the Academy snubbed Sorry to Bother You simply because the Academy fails to acknowledge the kind of achievement put in by first-time directors such as Boots Riley.
"How much trouble do I get myself in here?" Hammer said. "If you really look at the kind of films and people that the Oscars really celebrate, I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't terribly surprised. I think that Boots, as a first-time director, came out of the gates swinging so hard -- swinging for the fences and knocking it over the fence. I think that that is the kind of thing that should be celebrated, what Boots was able to do."
"That being said, we didn't make that movie thinking we were gonna win Academy Awards," Hammer continued. "We made it because we believed in Boots and we believed in the mission and we believed in what the movie said. So we did our jobs, and this is just another example of the Academy keeping it in the Academy."
While Hammer isn't wrong in his commentary about the Academy not exactly celebrating first-time directors -- Bradley Cooper also failed to receive a Best Director nod for his directorial debut A Star Is Born, though that film garnered five other Academy Award nominations -- there's also a bit of subtext here. Riley is a black director and, not only is the list of black directors who have received the Best Director nomination incredibly short with a mere six total since John Singleton became the first for Boyz n the Hood in 1991, no black director has ever won. (The Academy has the chance to change that this year with Spike Lee who was nominated for BlacKkKlansman.)
There's also the idea that Sorry to Bother You takes on issues of race. For those unfamiliar, the film, which in addition to Hammer also stars Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermain Fowler, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, Danny Glover, and others, follows a young African-American telemarketer who, in order to succeed in his profession must adopt a "white voice", ultimately rising in the ranks as a result to become a "Power Seller" who cold-calls corporate and political leaders to sell things like weapons of mass destruction.
However, while Riley and Sorry to Bother You didn't get any Academy recognition, the film hasn't been ignored in the larger awards season. The film and director have both been nominated for several other awards -- including an Outstanding Directing -- First-Time Feature Film nomination from the Directors Guild of America for Riley. It also made National Board of Review's list of Top Ten Independent Films.
Sorry to Bother You is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.
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