mad men

What Is a White Man Mad About in This Oscar-Nominated Movie?

A helpful guide to the many pissed-off white dudes in this year’s Academy-recognized films. Photo: Niko Tavernise/Universal Pictures

The Oscars are, quite famously, named after Oscar the Grouch, the prototypical angry white man. Viewed through this historical lens, it makes sense that the Academy inordinately rewards films about white men who are very, very furious about something. What they’re mad about doesn’t matter. It could be anything, really — a person, a car, a breakfast, a political uprising, a horse. It’s the sheer fact of manly misanthropy that makes a film compelling, important, and worthy of praise. A good film should force you to stop and wonder: Why is this man mad, and is it my fault? (When a fictional woman is angry, remember: She’s ungrateful. And this is unattractive to the Academy, who just nominated, like, ten women!)

During 2020’s furiously truncated Oscar season, it will be hard to remember: Which white man is pissed about which thing, again? Below, we’ve created a helpful list. Refer back to it early and often until you, too, become incandescent with rage. Maybe someday somebody will make a movie about you!

Ford v Ferrari: Cars

The Irishman: Other, more Irish men

Jojo Rabbit: Jews

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Hippies

1917: Whatever happened in 1916

Joker: “Society,” man

Marriage Story: Female agency

The Lighthouse: Seagulls

Bombshell: Women with blonde bobs

The Two Popes: The slackening grip of the Catholic Church

Avengers: Endgame: That the game must end

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Rian Johnson

Ad Astra: Paternal expectations in a post-Reagan America

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil: Mothers-in-law

Richard Jewell: Bombs, but also people who find bombs before they go off

Harriet: Black people generally

Pain and Glory: Heroin

Rocketman: Heroin

Knives Out: Immigrants

Little Women: Not being an immigrant

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Chilling lack of external rage indicates quiet internal fury

Parasite: N/A

What Is a White Man Mad About in This Oscar Movie?