The Oscar nominations were met with excitement. Black Panther got a Best Picture nomination, Alfonso Cuarón was nominated for Best Director, and both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were nominated for The Favourite. Perennial industry greats were nominated, including Glenn Close for The Wife and the Coen Brothers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. However, while the public celebrated these successes, there was a glaring omission in the list of Oscar nominations: Director Paul King’s artistic masterpiece, Paddington 2.
Twitter was aghast. The film itself has become an internet phenomenon, leading to countless jokes about how Paddington 2 is the best film ever made. The posts about it are endless.
However, how much was this praise based in humor and how much in actual disappointment? Did Paddington 2 actually deserve an Oscar nomination? It's a children’s film about a talking bear who wanders around London and gets himself into increasingly comedic peril. Paddington teaches the family he lives with about love and passion, touching the lives of both the characters and the audience through his innocence and concern for everyone around him. Could this stand up against the weighty dramas that populate the nominations list?
The truth is, Paddington 2 was robbed of an Oscar. Paddington 2’s appeal is not just seen by a loving fanbase, but by the numbers and the critics: it earned an impressive $226.8 million at the box office—more than Best Picture nominees Green Book or Vice. Most importantly, is the best reviewed film ever. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has received a whopping 222 positive reviews and a perfect 100% “fresh” score. It surpasses the critically acclaimed 2017 Best Picture nominee Lady Bird, which used to hold the score of best reviewed. Why, then, is Paddington 2 not being taken seriously?
Of course, Paddington 2 isn’t of the likes of the other dramatic Best Picture nominees, being a children's movie, but that does not mean it is not deserving of Academy recognition. Why not Best Visual Effects? The special effects designers managed to create a live bear who is sweet and reminiscent of a teddy bear while not landing in the area of the uncanny valley. Simply looking at Paddington’s face sparks a feeling of joy, of sweetness, of humanity in this little animated creature voiced by Ben Whishaw. He is neither too real to be frightening or too fake to be cartoonish. His fur blows softly in the wind, becomes heavy with water, and poofs up when dried. Something about Paddington is so alive that when he stands besides Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins), he fits right in.
Comparing it to other nominees in the category, it is clear that Paddington 2 has its place among them. Solo: A Star Wars Story and First Man have the generic beauty of space and ships flying in them. Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War are in the style of overdone action films with CGI battle sequences with few defining characteristics. Perhaps the only equivalent to the creation of Paddington is Winnie the Pooh in Christopher Robin—another classic bear getting the chance to shine on the silver screen. What makes Pooh more worthy of the nomination than Paddington?
What makes Paddington 2 so special is that the visual effects impress even beyond the creation of the titular character. Much of the film centers around Paddington’s search to acquire a pop–up story book for his Aunt Lucy, leading to sequences within the book of Paddington’s imagination. The world created around him and his aunt has a childlike, fairytale quality in every aspect.
Paddington 2 not only uses CGI beautifully, but does so with a crisp, perfected style that matches the genre and the themes of the film. It deserves at least a Best Special Effects nomination, but many aspects of the film are also artful—the cinematography, the score, the production design. The lack of any nominations is an obvious snub.
Even though it did not win Academy recognition, it has love from the critics, the masses, and the fans. No matter what, Paddington 2 has stolen our hearts.