Jordan Peele's Get Out is a crowd-pleasing genre film that blends humor and horror, but it's also a provocative and compelling critique of racism in 21st-century America. The originality and social relevance of Get Out are both why it deserves to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and the reason why it won't win.
Get Out is innovative in its storytelling; however, Get Out also defies all of the traits of a typical "Oscar-worthy" film. As a result, it may be at a disadvantage against more conventional "Oscar bait" films like the star-studded historical dramas Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, or The Post.
Related: Full List of Oscar Nominations
Likewise, Get Out's unflinching examination of racism reflects the tense political climate of 2017: it's a film that focuses in on the racism, complicity, and hypocrisy of white liberals. However, given the make-up of Academy voters (who were 91% white in 2016), the film might hit too close to home and make voters uncomfortable.
Why Get Out Should Win
Get Out is both a critical and commercial success. On Rotten Tomatoes, Get Out has a 99% Fresh certification, tied with Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird for the highest rated film of 2017, including all other Best Picture nominees. Get Out has also been named the most profitable of any film nominated for an Oscar this year - with a budget of only $4.5 million, the film made $175.4 million domestically and $252.4 million globally with an approximate rate of return of 5000%.
Despite this, Get Out is far from a front-runner and is seen as an unusual Oscar film: it's a genre film and directorial debut, it has a relatively low budget, and it was released in February (rather than later in the year to generate award season buzz). The film was not designed with the Academy in mind.
Instead, Get Out is fresh, forward-thinking, and genre-defying. Jordan Peele experimented with his concept of the "social thriller", blending the popular and the high-brow to create a film that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. Get Out is shocking and funny, and while it incorporates elements of the supernatural, it's most chilling in its moments of grim realism.
Why Get Out Won't Win
It's true that Get Out is already defying the odds with its Oscar nomination. Before the film's release, no one considered it a contender for the industry's top award. However, while the film's originality and political relevance helped win its nomination, they are also the reason why it's unlikely Get Out will win.
Get Out's originality has made it difficult to categorize and compare to other films. For instance, many fans felt that the film was being trivialized when it was categorized as a Comedy/Musical by the Golden Globes (director Jordan Peele responded to the nomination by tweeting, "Get Out is a documentary."). Recently in a Vulture interview, one of the Academy's new voters told a story about an older Academy member who dismissed Get Out as "not an Oscar film" even though they had not seen it. If Academy voters are constrained by their own narrow definitions of what an "Oscar film" is supposed to be, then Get Out may not be seen as a serious contender.
Get Out also satirizes white liberals, and ironically, it seems that Academy voters may not be too dissimilar from the villains of the film. As one Twitter fan observes:
Get Out wins best picture. An academy member walks up to Jordan Peele and says "I would have voted for it twice if I could!"
Get Out 2— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) January 23, 2018
The Academy member is, of course, paraphrasing Bradley Whitford's character from Get Out, who, in an attempt to signify that he isn't racist, forcefully jokes that he would have voted for Obama three times if he could have. Get Out forces its white viewers to consider how their own behavior could be complicit with racism, if not overtly racist. It's supposed to make white people uncomfortable, but as a result, Academy voters may be deterred from voting for the film instead of actually grappling with its complex themes.
Get Out probably won't win the Oscar for Best Picture, but it's clear that it's the film from 2017 that moviegoers will remember and go back to in the years to come.