So much discussion around “Get Out” lately has been about how to categorize it. A horror? A thriller? A comedy, as it was classified at the Golden Globes?
“’Get Out’ is a documentary,” writer-director Jordan Peele tweeted. He can now tack on another descriptor: Oscar nominee for best picture.
Peele’s first turn as writer-director also yielded him nominations for best director and best original screenplay. Daniel Kaluuya received a best actor nod for his portrayal of Chris, a young, black photographer meeting his white girlfriend’s family in what becomes a nightmarish hellscape where racism is the central terror.
The Oscar nods make Peele the fifth black director ever to be up for an Oscar and the fourth black writer to be up for original screenplay. Here are some other ways “Get Out” is a remarkable Oscar contender:
Earliest release-date since 1991. “Get Out” premiered in February, way before the autumn-winter Oscars award season. No other movie with a release date that early has been nominated for best picture since 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs.”
It was marketed as a horror. That genre does not tend to fare well at the Oscars. “Silence of the Lambs” won best picture at the 1992 Academy Awards, and also took home the top actor, actress, screenplay and director prizes. “Sixth Sense” was nominated in 1999 and “The Exorcist” in 1973.
Incredibly profitable: Best picture nominees are not always known for being popular at the box office, but “Get Out” made for a paltry $4.5 million went on to gross $176 million domestically ($255 million worldwide). While fellow best-picture nominee “Dunkirk” grossed $188 million domestically ($526 million worldwide), the Christopher Nolan World War II drama cost $100 million to make.
Tied for highest Rotten Tomato score. Both “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” have a 99 percent Rotten Tomatoes critic score — the highest among best picture nominees.
Even before awards season, “Get Out” defied convention and broke records. Peele became the first African American writer-director with a feature that earned more than $100 million at the box office. “Get Out” had unusual staying power at the box office for horror, a genre in which movies tend to make a lot of money during opening weekend then drop off.
The content of the movie itself also breaks norms. Throughout interviews, Peele — a huge horror fan — has noted the scary movie trope of black men relegated to supporting characters and being among the first to die.
“I feel like our perspective and what we want from a horror movie is rarely represented,” Peele told The Washington Post last year. “And I think what we want in a horror movie is somebody not to do some stupid s—, but instead to do the smart thing that any rational person would do once they figure out this heightened situation.”
He has also pointed to the “final girl” convention. When watching a black man in a horror flick, Peele told the New York Times, he knows “It’s just a matter of time until Tyrone walks away to smoke some weed or pee or something and gets macheted. It used to come right at that moment when you know everyone’s going to die. But you definitely know the final girl is not going to be the black dude.”
With “Get Out,” he subverts that narrative: “Daniel [Kaluuya]’s the final girl.”
Before “Get Out,” most people knew of Peele as one-half of the brilliant comedy duo “Key and Peele,” which spent five seasons giving America zany and subversive sketches. The first feature film he wrote was “Keanu,” in which he also starred alongside Keegan-Michael Key. The movie was a comedy about a drugpin’s kitten.
Peele came up with the initial idea for “Get Out” long before his Comedy Central show, during former president Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. The idea persisted during Obama’s presidency, which led to, as Peele describes it, America’s “post-racial lie.”
“There was a sentiment that we had a black president now, so racism is over,” Peele told The Post in February. “It even felt like President Obama couldn’t talk about race in a way that was satisfying.”
Peele added, “As the last couple of years unfolded and the country got woke to a certain extent, the movie became less about identifying the fact that racism exists and much more about giving us a hero.”
He did not choose villains as “the typical red state type who is usually categorized as being racist,” Peele said. “I wanted this film to explore the false sense of security one can have with the, sort of, New York liberal type.”
The “Sunken Place,” in the movie, serves as a method to terrorize. Beyond the movie, the “Sunken Place” has become a metaphor for being systematically silenced and marginalized.
After the Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, Peele tweeted a now-iconic image of Kaluuya from the movie.
In a later tweet, he added: “What is the opposite of the Sunken Place?”