Ah, yes, awards season—one of those excessive American cultural extravagances that people love to hate. For some of us, however, at the very end of this season comes the Sunday night show that we’ve been anticipating all year—the Academy Awards. For those of us who have followed the previous year’s films with intense scrutiny, have set aside predictions based on our knowledge of the Academy’s tastes and our own intuition, and who have become invested in the dozens of players that find their way into the mix, the nominations are perhaps the most compelling aspect of this grandiose operation. The Oscars announced their 2019 nominations this Tuesday, and Street is here to go over the biggest surprises and snubs.
Picture, Director, and Screenplay Categories
When reflecting on what awards season has amounted to thus far, the nominees for best picture are not at all surprising. That being said, the inclusion of Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, Vice, A Star is Born, and even BlacKkKlansman are notable for various reasons. While the pool of nominees last year were critically adored, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice have both received mixed reviews. Black Panther makes history as the first–ever superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture. Another (smaller) blockbuster, A Star is Born, gets a Best Picture nomination as well, but has possibly lost momentum as a frontrunner due to the lack of a directorial nomination for Bradley Cooper. BlacKkKlansman sneaks in as a release from earlier in the year, much like last year’s Get Out. With only eight films in the running (the Academy can technically nominate up to ten films for Best Picture), the most glaring snub is Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. Other long shots that weren’t included are First Reformed and Eighth Grade, which were both included in the American Film Institute's top ten list for 2018.
The Best Original Screenplay category is just as strong this year as it was last year, featuring four Best Picture nominees including Roma and three comedies: Vice, The Favourite, and Green Book. Comedies tend to do quite well in the screenplay categories, but, sadly, Bo Burnham’s middle school cringe–fest, Eighth Grade, was shut out completely. Thankfully, Paul Schrader’s haunting masterpiece First Reformed gets some much–deserved attention from the Academy.
The Best Adapted Screenplay category gives love to Netflix with a nomination for comedy–western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Unsurprisingly, Best Picture noms BlacKkKlansman and A Star is Born get nods in this category as well. If Beale Street Can Talk and Can You Ever Forgive Me? are deserving additions, bumping blockbusters Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody out of the race.
The Best Director category is often one of the most frustrating and mystifying races for Oscars glory. It is nice to see such an influential director like Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) nominated in this category for the first time. It is no surprise that Alfonso Cuarón, a previous winner for Gravity, makes the cut once again, this time for Roma. Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Adam McKay (Vice) are nice additions to the mix, with Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War a left–field choice, but a great step for the acknowledgement of foreign–language films with Academy voters.
The Best Actor category saw a race for the fifth slot as Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen and possible favorite Rami Malek entered the morning of nominations as all but done deals. Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) makes a surprising appearance here despite the film not being nominated for any other categories. A notable snub is Ethan Hawke for his performance in First Reformed.
Olivia Colman, Melissa McCarthy, Glenn Close, and Lady Gaga were expected nominees in the Best Actress category. The key race is between Close and Gaga thanks to the tie at the Critics' Choice Awards. The happy surprise in this category was the nomination for Yalitza Aparicio of Roma, a non–professional actress whose performance is paramount to the emotional power of the film.
The Best Supporting Actor category was quite competitive this awards season. Mahershala Ali of Green Book and Richard E. Grant of Can You Ever Forgive Me? were no surprise. The unexpected nomination of Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman knocked newbie favorite Timothée Chalamet out of the running this year, much to the dismay of his large, vocal fanbase.
Four of the actresses in The Best Supporting Actress category were locks this season, including both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone for The Favourite, the ever nominate–able Amy Adams for Vice, and Regina King for an excellent performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. The inclusion of Marina de Tavira’s dynamic, sentimental, and somewhat unhinged performance in Roma was an unexpected turn, as Claire Foy (First Man), a Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nominee, seemed the most likely fifth slot.
In the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories, musically driven films like Bohemian Rhapsody (mixing and editing) and A Star is Born (mixing) made the cut, as well as Black Panther, as a shoo–in comic book action flick. Unsurprising to those who have seen the film, but nevertheless a somewhat unusual addition to the sound categories is Roma, a lyrical drama with innovative use of lifelike sound design. Instead of the typical splattering of epic action films that dominate the sound categories, this year boasts greater genre diversity.
The five entries in the Film Editing category (The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, and Green Book) are all Best Picture nominees. A notable snub is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which was nominated for the Critics' Choice Award in editing.
The cinematography category includes several films outside the Best Picture race, including the Polish film Cold War and German drama Never Look Away. Across categories, foreign–language films (with Roma leading the way) have performed remarkably well this season. James Laxton, who was nominated for his cinematography in 2017’s Moonlight, missed out on Oscars love for his work on If Beale Street Could Talk.
Even without a Best Popular Film category, blockbusters made an impressive showing, and Roma and The Favourite racked up the most nominations with ten each. Stay tuned throughout the month for Street's Oscars predictions and start catching up on some of these amazing movies!