This year’s Oscar nominations marked milestones for many. Spike Lee earned his first directing nomination. Black Panther became the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture. And Hannah Beachler became the first Black production designer to be nominated thanks to her involvement with 2018’s most-talked-about Marvel hit.
But one film that didn’t make it to the nominations list was Sorry to Bother You, despite the buzz it made in both news and social media leading up to its major theater debut.
Not at all bothered (see what we did there?), director Boots Riley is weighing in.
“I want to make a few things clear,” he began in a Twitter thread on Tuesday. “I think that most of the film industry want to see something new and that there is a large percentage of the film industry that actually agrees with what I’m saying in STBY. Separate from that-from my conversations and other people reporting their knowledge to me, there are a lot of people in the Academy who liked STBY a lot. Obviously, with any movie that takes chances there are also folks who hated it. That’s to be expected.”
He goes on to explain that the reason the film—which stars Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson—wasn’t nominated is because “we didn’t actually run a campaign that aimed to get a nomination for Screenplay or Song.”
“We didn’t buy For Your Consideration ads in the trade magazines and we didn’t service the whole academy with screener,” he continued. “Without that, its perceived that you don’t have a chance, or enough buzz. Academy members dont just vote for a thing they like if they think it doesn’t have a chance. It’s like that with most voting.”
Despite not landing an Oscar nom, STBY did earn a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won an award as one of the Top Ten Independent Films as listed by the National Board of Review.
CASSIUS spoke to Riley about the filmmaking process back in July.
“There were times while we were actually filming and I was like, ‘Wait a minute… This is a weird movie. I don’t know if I led people down the wrong path right here,'” he shared. “But then sitting in the edit room and realizing that the reason that I thought that it was weird or that anyone would think it’s weird is because it’s different, and that always feels weird, for something to be different than the regular conventions of art that we have.”
He added that he hoped the film sparked much-needed change and organization in the present social climate.
“There’s things discussed in the movie that have to do with tactics forcing the hand of power, and maybe this will be part of that discussion that’s happening,” he said. “Hopefully people can organize and organizers can use this as a means of discussion about their campaigns that they’re involved in.”
As for not being nominated, Riley’s just here for the ride.
“I just enjoy the parties, free drinks, & hanging out with really talented filmmakers that inspire me,” he concluded in his recent Twitter thread. Read what else he had to say here.