Ever since Get Out dropped, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse have been unorthodox in preparation for awards season. Back in March, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg wrote about Universal offering screenings of the film for Los Angeles-based Academy members that were independent of the organization back in March of this year. Referring to it as an “unusually early show of confidence,” Feinberg noted that the move was noteworthy because live-action feature films aren’t usually screened for Academy members so early in the year. Only animated, documentary, foreign-language, and short films are screened by the Academy during a year’s first two months.
“For a movie this outside-the-box that has gone over this well, one cannot rule out a Best Picture nomination (although one usually eludes even more optimally timed genre films, excepting March 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, March 1996’s Fargo and February 1991’s eventual winner The Silence of the Lambs), and a best original screenplay nomination certainly seems attainable,” Feinberg added.
Although it’s understandable why some people would perceive Get Out being submitted as a comedy as offensive and problematic, in a strange way it embodies the core of how interest in the film was gained in the first place — unpredictability. When Peele first announced the film it was hard for people to wrap their head around how a comedian could and would tackle a horror movie. Coming off the success of Key & Peele with Keegan-Michael Key, Peele wanting to make his directorial debut in horror came as a surprise.
And it worked. Get Out has become a commercial and critical success since its release on February 24, 2017, having grossed $253 million worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million. An integral part of that success is Peele’s well-executed use of comedy and horror throughout the film, using the two in such a way that it reminds you of the power of both genres and what they’re capable of when used together.
Of course to blanket Get Out as a comedy dismisses how much of a hybrid it is. But this is something that Universal and Blumhouse are wisely using to their advantage because they can. At face value, Get Out is already challenging to convey, especially when you take into account that white men still make up most of the Academy’s voting demographic. You could argue that classifying Get Out as a comedy is the easy alternative in this scenario. On the other hand, you can see it as a smart and deliberate plan at distorting the idea of what a comedy can be, making sure a seminal film created, directed, and written by a black man is on the path to getting the awards it deserves.
Submitting Get Out as a comedy is a smart and strategic choice on behalf of the production companies and studios behind the film: it’ll hopefully lead to the film receiving the award acknowledgments it deserves (if it becomes an Oscars contender it won’t need to worry about genre restrictions like that from the Golden Globes), especially when we’ve seen time and time again how these ceremonies fail to award deserving black films. And even if that doesn’t pan out, it’s already redefined film moving forward.