Emancipation denied: Apple TV+ Oscar bait flops (but Mole gets a nom)

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News 'Emancipation' on Apple TV+ stars will Smith "Emancipation" will not be the second Apple TV+ film to win a Best Picture Oscar.
Graphic: Apple TV+

The Apple TV+ Christmas special The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse earned an Oscar nomination in the Animated Short Film category. And so did Brian Tyree Henry for his role in Causeway.

But Apple’s streaming service will not be earning back-to-back Best Picture Oscars, as Emancipation was completely shut out by the Academy.

Apple TV+ scores pair of 2023 Oscar nominations

The Oscar nomination for The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse is probably the most high-profile non earned by Apple TV+ this year.

The 34-minute animated film tells of the unlikely bond between four friends as they explore the meaning of kindness, courage and hope. The Cult of Mac review calls it, “one of the best animated films the streaming service has yet produced.”

The Apple TV+ film Causeway was also recognized, but not the star, Jennifer Lawrence. Instead, Brian Tyree Henry was nominated in the Actor in a Supporting Role category.

Lawrence plays an injured vet trapped in her home town in the movie. But the Cult of Mac review calls out the supporting actors. “Henry is a consistent joy, a force of nature, and the part of James allows him to show how much he can say without coming out and saying it. Those sad eyes deliver monologues in this movie. He’s incredible.”

But Will Smith’s Emancipation gets shut out

Although Apple TV+ clearly set up Emancipation as “Oscar bait,” the film starring Will Smith about a man escaping slavery didn’t get a single nomination. And it’s probably not for the reason many people think.

At the 2022 Oscar ceremony, Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage in front of millions of viewers. He later called it “a horrific decision,” but many people still wondered if the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would punish the film for Smith’s mistake.

Perhaps we’ll never know because Emancipation doesn’t seem like it would have earned any nominations no matter what happened at the 2022 Oscar ceremony. It has a 42% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As The Atlantic put it, “the mediocre film offers plenty of its own reasons for people to not watch.”

The full list of 2023 Oscar nominations is available on the Academy’s website.

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