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Boots Riley Explains ‘Sorry to Bother You’ Oscars Shut Out, and Why He’s Not Mad at the Academy

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" and "Christopher Robin" each have more Oscar nominations than "Sorry to Bother You."

"Sorry to Bother You"

“Sorry to Bother You”

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While major contenders such as “Roma” and “The Favourite” dominated the 2019 Oscar nominations as expected, one movie that failed to make the cut in any category is Boots Riley’s beloved “Sorry to Bother You.” The Sundance hit made the shortlist for Best Original Song and had its advocates for Best Original Screenplay. While the film was never seen as a contender in major categories, it has been in the awards season conversation nonetheless, with nominations from the Gotham Awards, the Indie Spirit Awards, and the DGA Awards, where Riley is nominated for first-time feature.

Shortly after it was revealed “Sorry to Bother You” was completely shut out at the Oscars, Riley took to social media to express no hard feelings against the Academy. Riley noticed some “Sorry to Bother You” fans attributing the film’s lack of Oscar nominations to a larger issue within the Academy, mainly how it continues to be hard for smaller inclusive independent films to break into the race, but the writer-director said that wasn’t the case here. In fact, Riley estimates “Sorry to Bother You” didn’t land any Oscar nominations because there just wasn’t a campaign in the first place.

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“The largest factor as to why we didn’t get nominated is that we didn’t actually run a campaign that aimed to get a nomination for Screenplay or Song,” Riley wrote. “We didn’t buy For Your Consideration ads in the trade magazines and we didn’t service the whole academy with screeners. Without that, its perceived that you don’t have a chance, or enough buzz.”

While there were some campaign events held for “Sorry to Bother You,” it was hardly the push needed to really fight for actual nominations for Best Original Song and Best Original Screenplay. Fortunately, Riley views Oscar season as a win for “Sorry to Bother You” even without Oscar nominations.

“I just enjoy the parties, free drinks, and hanging out with really talented filmmakers that inspire me, many of them who got nominated,” Riley wrote. ‘The campaign that we did do – press runs, red carpet stuff – got a lot more people to see the movie. That’s, for me, the big attraction to any film award.”

“Sorry to Bother You” is now available to stream on Hulu. Read Riley’s thoughts in the thread below.

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