The Academy Awards aren’t until February 24, but Oscar got his friends together this morning to announce the nominations.
No year goes without some surprises and snubs, and perhaps in a year where it’s been hard to settle on too many major favorites we shouldn’t be too surprised by the fact that this year had some real doozies. But even with some craziness going on, hits like “Black Panther” and “BlacKkKlansman” found a lot of success in the nomination process.
First an overview of what transpired.
“Roma” and “The Favourite” lead the way with 10 nominations each. Both could have actually had more. Across-the-board love for the Netflix film is obvious here, but the love for the bitingly hilarious period piece was a touch surprising. One of these is your likely favorite for Best Picture at this point…except that “Roma” missed out on an Editing nomination, and three of the nominations for “The Favourite” came in two acting categories. That makes things tricky.
“BlacKkKlansman” had a fantastic showing, and Spike Lee has finally landed a spot in a surprising director field. Bradley Cooper missed the mark in the Director category, but the rest of his work on the fourth version of “A Star is Born” clearly had voters feeling, uh, Gaga over it. And “Black Panther” got a Best Picture nomination! The first superhero film to ever pull that off.
On the other side of things, voters clearly felt little love for “First Man” and the work done to create an intimate portrait of Neil Armstrong and our trip to the moon.
Let’s take a category-by-category look at what transpired.
A Star Is Born
REACTION: “Black Panther” becomes the first superhero movie to get a Best Picture nomination. Netflix finally gets to play with the big kids, as “Roma” lands here at the top. This is probably a three-dog race right now, as “Green Book”, “Roma”, and “A Star is Born” have had most of the precursor award love. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is probably the eye roll here, but there doesn’t seem to be much standing in its way. For me personally, the biggest shock here is that “A Quiet Place” is missing.
Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
REACTION: Emily Blunt not being on this list is more than a little shocking. She had a realistic shot with “Mary Poppins Returns”. But it’s also hard to argue any of the performances placed above her here. Colman is likely your favorite (no pun intended), but there’s a realistic shot that any of these great performances could win this year.
Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
REACTION: From a shock standpoint, Willem Dafoe showing up here is among the highest of the morning. Not entirely undeserved, but Ethan Hawke missing for “First Reformed” is stunning. I long ago resigned that Rami Malek would show up on this list, despite putting together the most wooden lip-sync performance to grace a major blockbuster in a while. Bale is probably your front-runner given how things transpired, but Cooper and Malek have strong chances.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)
REACTION: First…I love Sam Rockwell. He’s a great actor who does terrific things in every film he’s in. But this slapstick SNL-type performance of George W. Bush in Vice was ridiculous. He does not belong here. Michael B. Jordan in “Black Panther” or Timothee Chalamet in “Beautiful Boy” would have been far more inspired choices. But wonderful to see Sam Elliott FINALLY appear on an Oscars list. What a career he’s had.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams (Vice)
Marina de Tavira (Roma)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
REACTION: Another missed opportunity for Emily Blunt, as her performance in “A Quiet Place” didn’t make the cut. Regina King’s brilliant “Beale Street” performance did though, and that’s really what matters here. But could Amy Adams FINALLY end her streak this year?
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
REACTION: If you ever wanted proof that the stature of The Oscars is changing, just look at the difference here in Best Director. Directors from Mexico, Greece and Poland join an African-American and…well, Adam McKay this year. A remarkable difference from the days of “old white American guy times five” every year. That change comes at a cost however, as we have probably the biggest snub of the entire group. Somehow the brilliant “A Star is Born” must have directed itself, and Bradley Cooper is left to wonder “what if?”. Also notably missing, any of the fine directing work done by women this year, including the truly sublime “Leave No Trace”. Regardless, nobody is beating Cuaron for his passion-project this year.
Best Adapted Screenplay
A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)
REACTION: A strong list of adaptations here, so very little to complain about. “Leave No Trace” missing is a personal hit for me, but overall this list feels right. Spike Lee belongs on this list, as does the remarkable Barry Jenkins.
Best Original Screenplay
The Favourite (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
Vice (Adam McKay)
REACTION: Landing “First Reformed” on this list is a home run. But leaving “Eighth Grade” off is a strikeout. Otherwise this list clearly just was a check-off list of films the voters also pushed forward to Best Picture.
Best Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther, written by Kendrick Lamar, Al Shux, Sounwave, SZA and Anthony Tiffith)
Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA
“I’ll Fight” (RBG, written by Diane Warren)
Performed by Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns, written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)
Performed by Emily Blunt
“Shallow” (A Star Is Born, written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt)
Performed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch)
Performed by Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson
REACTION: Aside from the fact that the “A Star is Born” crew campaigned the wrong song here, we really can’t argue with these five choices. It will be a fun performance night on the Oscar stage. The only real “snub” of any sort was that Dolly Parton didn’t make the cut for her cutesy track from “Dumplin'”. Kendrick Lamar continues his march on every award possible, with his SZA duet landing a well-deserved nomination from “Black Panther”.
Best Original Score
Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)
BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)
REACTION: That the BRILLIANT score from “First Man” is not on this list is an absolute joke. I understand the film didn’t resonate with voters all that much this year, but put aside your biases against it as a voter and you’ll see that this score was about as perfect as it gets. That being said, the five scores that did make the cut are all perfectly great and fine nominees in their own right. But ignoring “First Man” just seems like a major oversight.
Foreign Language Film
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
REACTION: “Never Look Away” is probably the only real surprise here, as it came at the expense of the beautiful “Burning”. Otherwise, this list is nearly flawless. Plus, THREE of these nominees showed up in other categories. That’s virtually unheard of in Oscarland.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
REACTION: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Mister Rogers. Mister Rogers who? Exactly. … A stunning omission to have “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” missing from this list. But…at the same time, this final list is TERRIFIC. Just shocking to not have the strong fruntrunner even making the cut.
Documentary Short Subject
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.
REACTION: These were the likely five to come through the shortlist. No surprises here. But a lot of terrific work.
Animated Feature Film
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
REACTION: Exactly the list everyone expected to come through. Nothing comes close to the level of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” though.
Animated Short Film
One Small Step
REACTION: Hard category to really have any fault in.
Live Action Short Film
REACTION: A bit surprised to see “Caroline” off the list, but again, this is a hard category to have any fault in.
The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)
Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
A Star Is Born (Matty Libatique)
Cold War (Lukasz Zal)
REACTION: Now you want to talk surprises? How about seeing THREE of the foreign film nominees showing up in this category as well?! “Cold War” and “Roma” were likely, but “Never Look Away” is a shocker. “First Man” being left off here is another absolute dagger. It truly belonged. Nobody is beating Cuaron for this one though.
Black Panther (Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart)
The Favourite (Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton)
First Man (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas)
Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre and Gordon Sim)
Roma (Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez)
REACTION: The “Roma” train runs hard on Oscars tracks this year. Probably the least likely place it would have landed. But here it is. All strong nominees here. Only really surprising omission might have been the beautiful production design for “Crazy Rich Asians”, but that wasn’t going to overtake “Roma” with this sort of lovefest going on. A nice nod to the fantastic world created in Wakanda in “Black Panther” here.
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)
REACTION: Sandy Powell is a goddess in the costume world, and it’s not even surprising anymore when she has to compete with herself for these awards. “Buster Scruggs” was a bit of a surprise, as it hasn’t gotten much love anywhere. And “Crazy Rich Asians” could be considered a mild snub. Look for Sandy’s work in “The Favourite” to be the, uh, favorite this year.
BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)
Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)
The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)
Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito)
Vice (Hank Corwin)
REACTION: Well, there’s always one category. You just don’t typically expect it to be this one. First off, if you’re going to love up on “Roma” everywhere else, it’s absolutely mind-boggling that you’d ignore Cuaron here. It kept him from setting the record for most individual nominations in one year, in fact. And another shocker for “First Man”, as the editing was the second best part behind the score. “Bohemian Rhapsody” just doesn’t belong here. “Green Book” just doesn’t belong here.
Avengers: Infinity War
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
REACTION: The only real surprise here is probably “Black Panther” being off the grid on this one. But part of that could be that in the Visual Effects bake-off, “Infinity War” largely presented the effects of creating…Wakanda. Voters may have been a bit confused there. Otherwise, this list about nails it. “First Man” and “Solo” both used really, really cool LED displays to help guide many of their visual effects, and it paid off this year. And who doesn’t love when Winnie the Pooh shows up at Oscar? “Christopher Robin” seemlessly blended real and animated worlds and the work paid off.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots
REACTION: A surprise showing for “Mary Queen of Scots” here, but no surprise at all that “Border” and “Vice” made the cut. Both had transformative work that was tough to compare to. A blessing that heavily predicted “Bohemian Rhapsody” did not make the cut here.
A Quiet Place
A Star Is Born
REACTION: The two categories are distinctly different, but clearly voters don’t recognize much of that, as the nominees are nearly identical. We swap out “A Quiet Place” and “A Star is Born” and that’s it. What’s stunning here is the lack of love for “Mary Poppins Returns” or “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”. “Black Panther” getting well-deserved nods in both sound categories is a huge win for superhero movies in general.
Brandon Plotnick is a self-proclaimed Oscars dork, obsessed with all things cinema and occasionally a little music on the side.