The Oscars are upon us! While the Golden Globes kicked off the year honoring some of the best in film from 2018 it’s the Academy Awards that serves as the true display of the greatest cinematic products of the last twelve months. While the show has earned its fair share on controversy over the years and has been touted by naysayers as pretentious, overly long and a “popularity contest” not to mention the well-known controversy of campaigning that often influences award winners, it’s still THE go-to American award show to honor the best in Hollywood and beyond and has helped establish the legacy of countless legendary films for over 90s years. This morning the nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced setting up what is, in my opinion, the most competitive show of maybe the entire decade with numerous films in position to make history. So let’s take a look at the honored, the snubbed, the undeserving, the favorites and the fillers of this year’s crop. I will not be examining documentary or short films in this post as these are products I do not examine or review for this blog. With that said, this is Cinema Spotlight’s breakdown of the 2019 Oscar nominees.
Let’s start with a film that could make history in more ways than one. “Roma”, a Mexican film that earned Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director for Alfonzo Cuaron, tied for the most nominations of any picture from 2018 with a total of ten, matching “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’s” record for most nominations for a foreign language movie. In addition to earning nods for Best Director and Best Foreign-Language Film the actors are getting credit where they were snubbed by the Golden Globes. Yalitza Aparicio earned a Best Actress nomination while Marina de Tavira earned a Best Supporting Actress nod. The film also earned nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design. Finally it’s also in the running for Best Picture which is where is has the potential to make the most history. “Roma” could become the first foreign language picture to win the honor and it’s one of several potential favorites with a legitimate shot at earning the award. “Roma” could also end the controversial “Netflix Curse” once and become the first non-documentary film released by the streaming service to win an Oscar. It’s also the first time a Netflix original has earned nominations in several categories including Best Picture and Best Director. Finally, Yalitza Aparicio looks to become the first Mexican-born woman to win for Best Actress.
Tying “Roma” for the most nominations is “The Favourite” which received numerous nominations at the Golden Globes as well but only took home one award from that ceremony. That honor went to Olivia Coleman as the lead actress and she looks to earn the Oscar equivalent with a nomination for Best Actress. “The Favourite” scored additional expected nominations for Best Picture and for Best Director for Vorgos Lanthimos. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz earned Best Supporting Actress nominations as well. “The Favourite” also earned numerous writing and technical nominations including for its original screenplay, costume design, cinematography, production design, and editing. “The Favourite” may not be at the top of a lot of people’s lists of expected winners, but hey one can dream can’t I?
“A Star is Born” tied for the second most nominations with eight, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay as the fourth iteration of the classic Hollywood story. As expected, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are both nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor while the musical got much deserved nomination for sound mixing and, of course, a Best Original Song nod for the Golden Globe winning “Shallow”. It also earned a nod for its cinematography, but it’s the eighth nomination that has many critics delighted as Sam Elliott earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination while Golden Globe nominee Timothée Chalamet, who earned a nod for “Beautiful Boy”, was left out. Elliott’s inclusion in the category could show that “A Star is Born” is getting ready to shine at the Oscars where it failed at the Globes, and I would believe that if it weren’t for a notable missing nomination. Bradley Cooper did not receive a nod for Best Director after receiving one at the Globes. In his place is Pawel Pawlikowski, director of the Polish foreign language entry “Cold War” which also earned a foreign language film nomination and a cinematography nomination after a heavy campaign in the wake of its shutout from the Golden Globes. The absence of Cooper in the category is a bit disturbing, but it’s also important to remember the category is a small one with plenty of talent to choose from. It should be noted that only four times since 2010 has the Best Director winner directed the eventually Best Picture winner and “Argo” won Best Picture while director Ben Affleck was snubbed despite winning a Golden Globe. So there’s still plenty of hope for “A Star is Born” all the same.
“Vice”, followed up earning the most Golden Globe nominations by earning eight nominations for the Academy Awards where it promises to be a strong contender. Along with Best Picture, it has also earned a Best Director nomination for Adam McKay, a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Amy Adams, a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Sam Rockwell, and a Best Actor nomination for Christian Bale, an award he will most likely win. “Vice” also received a Best Original Screenplay nod and is represented in one of the night’s least competitive categories Best Makeup & Hairstyling where it is joined by “Border” and “Mary Queen of Scots”. “Queen of Scots” by the way also earned a nomination for costume design. Finally, “Vice” completes a Best Picture nominee sweep of the Best Film Editing nominations.
Fans wanted it and they got it. “Black Panther” earned the third most nominations with seven and is poised to be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to earn an Oscar. While the actors (specifically Michael B. Jordan) and director Ryan Coogler were criminally snubbed “Black Panther” did earn a Best Picture nomination, already cementing itself in history as the first ever superhero film to earn a nod in the category. It also earned nominations for costume design, the original song “All the Stars”, its musical score and sound mixing and editing as well as its production design. It’s not the only MCU movie represented, however. Marvel’s arguably much bigger project from 2018, “Avengers: Infinity War”, also earned a nomination for visual effects where it will take on a slew of other one-off nominees including “Christopher Robin”, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, “Ready Player One”, and “First Man” although “First Man” also nabbed nominations for its production, sound mixing and editing alongside “Black Panther”. If “Black Panther” can win it would be historic for not only being the first superhero film to win Best Picture, but it would give the MCU its long overdue award season credit that has haunted it since “Suicide Squad” gave the DCEU a for makeup & hairstyle and Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his work as the Joker in the pre-DCEU Batman film “The Dark Knight”.
“BlacKkKlansman is next in line earning six nominations. Its most prominent nods are for Best Picture and Best Director, both a first for director Spike Lee who has long been snubbed by the Oscars. While John David Washington was snubbed for Best Actor his co-star Adam Driver earned his first Academy Award nod for Best Supporting Actor. “BlacKkKlansman” also earned a nod for its adapted screenplay, musical score and editing. Next up with five nominations each were Golden Globe winners for Best Picture “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book”. Both earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Film Editing and Best Actor for Rami Malek and Viggo Mortensen respectively. Mahershala Ali represents “Green Book” in the Best Supporting Actor category looking to match his Golden Globe win. “Green Book” earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination while “Bohemian Rhapsody” earned sound mixing and sound editing nominations.
Looking at other nominations I have yet to touch on, Glenn Close earned “The Wife” it’s only nomination of the ceremony for Best Actress after winning a Golden Globe. Close is one of the most famous actresses to have yet to win an Oscar after being overlooked during six prior ceremonies where she was nominated. Many believe this will be her year the way it was with the Golden Globes where she had yet to win a film award until this month. Joining Close for Best Actress is Melissa McCarthy for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, an overlooked gem from 2018 even I failed to appreciate before the new year that also earned Richard E. Grant a Best Supporting Actor nomination and will compete for Best Adapted Screenplay. Other acting nominations of note are Willem Dafoe in the Best Actor category as the sole nomination for the Van Gogh biopick “At Eternity’s Gate” and Golden Globe winner Regina King representing “If Beale Street Could Talk” in the Best Supporting Actress category where she is considered a favorite. “If Beale Street Could Talk”, while originally considered a heavy award season favorite, didn’t garner as much love as expected from the Academy but still earned additional nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.
While it didn’t receive any acting nominations “Mary Poppins Returns” will be a heavy competitor in technical and sound-based categories. The Disney sequel earned nominations for production design, original score and costume design. It also earned a nod for the original song “The Place Where Lost Things Go” in a category where it is joined by previously mentioned “Shallow” and “All the Stars” as well as “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary “RBG”. The final nominee in the original song category is “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” which is featured in the Netflix original “The Balled of Buster Scruggs”, a western anthology pictured that earned a few other nominations for costume design and its adapted screenplay. “Never Look Away” earned a nod for its cinematography while “First Reformed” earned only one nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Joining “Roma” and “Cold War” in the Best Foreign-Language Film Category are “Capernaum”, “Never Look Away” and Shoplifters”. Finally “A Quiet Place” earned only a single nomination and, ironically enough for a movie about remaining quiet, it was for sound editing.
Finally looking at the animated film nominees it’s the same exact diverse group we saw at the Golden Globes. “Incredibles 2”, “Mirai”, “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, “Isle of Dogs” and Golden Globe winner “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” will all compete for the honor in the most competitive Best Animated Feature lineup in years. “Isle of Dogs” will also compete for Best Original Score. If Sony Pictures Animation can win it would be historic as it would be, yet, another milestone for Marvel properties as well as the first animated feature win for Sony. It would also be only the second time in a decade that a non-Disney property earned the award although one could argue that because the rights of Spider-Man are technically shared with Disney this would be somewhat misleading. It’s also worth noting that when Disney didn’t win the award in 2011, they also had no films nominated in the category. This could also be the first time since 2006 that Pixar doesn’t win when it’s nominated. In fact 2006 with “Cars” was the last time a Disney property in general was nominated and did not win and with TWO pure Disney product represented, which happen to be sequels to two of the company’s biggest original properties of the past two decades, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” could usher in a new era of competitiveness for animation if it gets it’s much deserved victory.
Now to close things out let’s look at the snubs. I’ve already mentioned a few big ones including Ryan Coogler and Bradley Cooper’s exclusions from the Best Director category and John David Washington being left out of the Best Actor category. However, there are a few other films or performances that were surprisingly overlooked. For one “First Reformed” didn’t earn more honors when Ethan Hawke very much deserved a Best Actor nod. I know that’s a tight category but “First Reformed”, as divisive and slightly pretentious as it can be, is an excellent film and Hawke turns in one of his career best performances to make it work. Charlize Theron should have been represented in the Best Actress category for her work in “Tully” and I can even say who I’d trade out. While Melissa McCarthy is a worthy nominee, I feel that Theron deserved the nomination more and I’ll take it one step further by calling the exclusion of “Tully” from the Best Original Screenplay also a bit disappointing. That same category could have and should have included “Eighth Grade”, a film written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham that is arguably the most important film released to date for the youth of Generation Z. I’ll go back to a snub I did mention with “Black Panther”, Michael B. Jordan, who certainly deserved to be recognized as one of the MCU’s greatest villains to date. To have him ignored in favor of Richard Grant, again very deserving but not as deserving, was unacceptable for me especially since the nominations for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” feel like token mentions more than sincere attempts to recognize the movie in my book. I think “Beautiful Boy” was criminally overlooked as well and should have at least been in the running for its adapted screenplay. Finally I was shocked to see Peter Farrelly not included in the Best Director category for “Green Book”. I know quite a few people got snubbed there but this feels really out of left field especially since, in the eyes of many, “Green Book” is a heavy favorite to walk away with Best Picture and it would be the second time this decade the Best Picture winner’s director wasn’t nominated if that happens.
So, I want to hear from you? What nominations excite you? What snubs have you furious? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to join me and others in seeing who takes home the statutes when the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24.
2019 Oscar nominations
“A Star Is Born”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”
“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay
“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique
Best Foreign Language Film:
“Cold War” (Poland)
“Never Look Away” (Germany)
“BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman
“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Vice,” Hank Corwin
“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay
“A Star Is Born”
“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez
“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
Makeup and Hair:
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”