Watch a video essay about why this snub is so disheartening.
Every year when award season arrives, most film fans know better than to get their hopes up. Even so, every year, we all love to complain about snubs. One movie that the academy unfortunately ignored for the best picture nomination this year was Sean Baker’s The Florida Project. The film wasn’t a huge box office draw, nor did it hit theaters in a wide release. However, you’ve still likely heard of The Florida Project. Even though the film was underseen, all those who saw the movie fell head over heels for the touching story.
Fortunately, the Academy still recognized the film for Willem Dafoe’s supporting role. However, his performance is just one of the many things that make this movie so special.
The Florida Project is about a six-year-old girl named Moonee (Prince) and her young mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite). The two live in the Magic Castle Motel in Kissimmee, Florida, which is right by Disney World. The Florida Project is so memorable because of the way the movie tackles many serious issues without overwhelming the viewer. The film achieves this effect by telling the story from Moonee’s unique childlike perspective. Throughout the film, Moonee and her friends who live in the nearby motels spend every day together. Countless scenes of unbridled childhood joy fill the movie. Meanwhile, Halley struggles each day with financial instability, unemployment and her and Monee’s living situation. Through this juxtaposition, the film is able to highlight the under-told story of a low-income family like Moonee and Halley’s in an extremely original and cinematic way.
Director and co-writer of the film, Sean Baker, is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. He became widely known in 2015 for his film Tangerine, which he shot entirely on iPhones. The Florida Project was a return to shooting on film, but the final sequence of the movie was also filmed with an iPhone. Baker also frequently uses non-professional actors in his films. In fact, he found Vinaite on Instagram. When he got in touch with her for the role, she had never acted before. Stylistic choices like these give Baker’s films a distinct realist quality. His filmography is full of incredibly genuine and human storytelling, and there is no better example than The Florida Project. Baker is actively keeping the spirit of indie filmmaking alive, which is why it would have been so rewarding to see his film nominated for best picture.
The video essay below by Nerdwriter1 goes into detail about why a best picture nomination for The Florida Project would have been so meaningful.