We need to talk about this year’s biggest Oscar snub: Eighth Grade. If you haven’t seen Eighth Grade, it is a coming-of-age comedy written and directed by Bo Burnham. It is a sweet, honest, heartwarming, and funny take on growing up that is masterfully written and directed.
I am not the only one who thinks this. The film received rave reviews, including a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes. A lot of well-reviewed films didn’t get nominated this year, but Eighth Grade’s Oscar snub is especially noteworthy given all the other awards it collected this season.
Eighth Grade took home trophies from both the Writers and Directors Guild Awards and, just last night, Burnham won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. His debut film gained nominations for three other Spirit Awards including Best Feature. The American Film Institute and National Board of Review both named it one of the top 10 films of the year.
Yet not a single Oscar nomination. That may be, in part, because Eighth Grade is a comedy and historically very few comedies have won Oscars. Setting aside the unfairness of the Academy’s reluctance to celebrate comedy, if a comedy was going to be nominated it should have been Eighth Grade because Eighth Grade is the kind of comedy that the Academy nominates.
Why did the Oscars snub Eighth Grade?
The Academy has a soft spot for coming-of-age dramedies. Last year, the Academy nominated Lady Bird for the Best Picture Oscar. Eighth Grade and Lady Bird have similar feels. They both follow a young girl through a transitional time in young adulthood and both have a lot of comedic elements. Other coming-of-age dramedies nominated for Best Picture include Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and American Graffiti. Eighth Grade should be among those films because it really is just as good.
Eighth Grade perfectly captures the feeling of being socially awkward in a uniquely human way. The characters are immediately relatable and transport the viewer back to a moment in time when they were young and insecure. Eighth Grade is also a bit of an anomaly in the genre of coming of age dramas; most focus on childhood or high school and often skip the emotional mind field that is middle school. It’s amazing that the film was written and directed by an adult man since it treats being a tween-age girl with such respect and reverence.
It would have meant a lot to both comedians and young filmmakers to see Burnham and Eighth Grade at the Oscars. A 28-year-old comedian made an Oscar-worthy film this year and that is important whether the Academy agrees or not.