And the Nominees for the 91st Annual Academy Awards Are…
At 5:20am PST this morning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 91st Annual Academy Awards, which are set to air February 24, 2019 on ABC. There were some shocking snubs and surprise inclusions, but ultimately it played out as expected. Below I list the key takeaways and the nominees in the major categories, along with their Oscar history.
9 Key Headlines from This Morning’s Oscar Nominations
- Best Picture nominees Roma, The Favourite, BlacKkKslansman, and Vice had an outstanding morning. All four of these films showed up everywhere they were expected to, with some additional surprise nominations. Roma got two acting nominations that were far from assured in addition to its 8 other nominations. Yorgos Lanthimos got included for Best Director despite his snub by the Directors Guilt of America and The Favourite got 9 additional nominations. Vice showed up in important categories like Best Director and Best Film Editing and ended up with 8 total. BlacKkKlansman received 7 total nominations, including somewhat unexpected ones in Best Film Editing and Best Original Score.
- Best Picture nominees A Star is Born, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Black Panther had a good enough morning. All four of these films performed well, but were snubbed in some high profile categories. A Star is Born was nominated in 8 categories but was snubbed in the the two categories that are the best predictors of the Best Picture winner, Best Director and Best Film Editing. Green Book’s 5 nominations similarly did not include a Best Director citation for Peter Farrelly but did include an editing nomination. Bohemian Rhapsody scored 5 nominations but missed out in Best Director and Best Screenplay (as expected). And Black Panther became the first superhero film ever nominated for Best Picture, but nevertheless was nowhere to be found in Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, or any of the acting categories.
- Best Director was the category with the most surprises. The biggest headline of the morning is undoubtedly Bradley Cooper’s snub in Best Director for A Star is Born. However, I am not entirely surprised as it is quite reminiscent of when the director’s branch snubbed handsome A-list actor Ben Affleck for his universally acclaimed directorial fete Argo. Also, Cooper scored 3 other nominations for producing, acting, and screenwriting this year, so he had an okay morning. In addition to Cooper, Peter Farrelly missed out on a nomination meaning that the Directors Guild of America only predicted 3 of the eventual 5 Oscar nominees. In their place was Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite and Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War. The latter marks only the second time since the field of Best Picture nominees expanded beyond 5 in 2009 that a movie scored a nomination for Best Director without scoring a Best Picture nomination.
- Best Documentary Feature continues to its tradition of snubbing the frontrunner. Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the smash hit documentary about Mr. Rogers joins such other films as 1991’s Truth or Dare, 1994’s Hoop Dreams, and last year’s Jane on the list of critically and commercially successful documentaries to get snubbed in this category. Three Identical Strangers — another breakout documentary hit from this year — was also snubbed.
- Spike Lee finally and Paul Schrader finally get their Oscar nominations. Despite the fact that he has 2 previous nominations in other categories, an honorary Oscar, and has helmed classics like Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, Spike Lee has never been nominated in the Best Director category until today. Similarly, despite writing the screenplay for Martin Scorcese’s two most acclaimed films (Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), Paul Schrader has never been nominated prior to today. It’s an exciting and long overdue honor for both veterans.
- A trio of women have a chance to end their historic losing streaks. Having gone 0 for 6 throughout her career, Glenn Close has the chance to break her losing streak this year with her nomination for The Wife. Close currently has the distinction of having the most acting nominations without a win of any living actor. Hot on her heels for that distinction is Amy Adams, who has gone 0 for 5 throughout her career. If Close wins and she loses, Adams will reach six losses and receive that unfortunate distinction. Eclipsing them both in terms of total losses is songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren who has gone 0 for 9 in the Best Original Song category. This year, she is up for “I’ll Fight” from RBG. That song seems destined to lose to Lady Gaga’s “Shallow,” however, suggesting Warren’s streak will not end this year.
- Diverse superheroes are embraced; diverse romantic comedies are not. The expanding of the Best Picture category beyond 5 nominees in 2009 was largely precipitated by the snub of the critically revered and box office record-smashing blockbuster superhero movie The Dark Knight in 2008. Ten years later, a superhero movie finally breaks into the Best Picture lineup for the first time with Black Panther. Although its inclusion here was widely predicted and it missed out in some key categories (see above), its Best Picture nomination is nevertheless historic. In addition to simply being a great film, Black Panther was notable for the quality and quantity of its representation of black people. Unfortunately, another critically acclaimed blockbuster noted for its portrayal of an underrepresented group (Asians and Asian-Americans) failed to earn a single nomination. I thought Crazy Rich Asians had an outside shot of a Best Picture nomination following its better-than-expected performance at the SAG and PGA Awards, but it was not to be. It seems that while the Academy is willing to embrace superheroes, it is still reticent to embrace the contemporary romantic comedy.
- The critics are largely ignored. The critical darlings that won the lion’s share of the critics’ groups awards this season were largely missing from the Oscar nominations. Although First Reformed scored a screenplay nomination, its star Ethan Hawke missed out on Best Actor despite dominating this category among critics’ groups. Hereditary’s Toni Collette faced a similar fate. And then there’s a trio of award-winning female-led films that received a combined total of 0 nominations despite doing terrifically with critics’ groups earlier in the season— Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, Chloe Zhao’s The Rider, and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here.
- Women filmmakers are nowhere to be found. Speaking of that snubbed trio of women directors, the Best Director lineup was all male for the 86th time in the Oscars’ 91-year history. Women have only been nominated in this category 5 times and only 1 woman has won — Katheryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker. Similarly abysmal is the performance of women in other behind-the-scenes categories. Of the 20 nominated screenwriters this year, 2 are women and of the 25 nominated producers this year, 5 are women. There is clearly a long way to go in terms of gender representation.
[Note on my predictions: Of the 43 nominees in the top 8 categories (Best Picture, Best Director, the four acting categories, and the two screenplay categories) I correctly predicted 37 (86%) of them. And of the 6 I missed, all save one were on my list of potential alternatives (I didn’t see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs coming in Adapted Screenplay, which just goes to show that you are foolish to ever count out the Coen Brothers.)]
The Nominees in the Top 8 Categories
Black Panther (7 total nominations)
BlacKkKlansman (6 total nominations)
Bohemian Rhapsody (5 total nominations)
The Favourite (10 total nominations)
Green Book (5 total nominations)
Roma (10 total nominations)
A Star is Born (8 total nominations)
Vice (8 total nominations)
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (Prior Oscar Appearances: He has 1 prior nomination and win in this category for Gravity; he has 5 other prior nominations in other categories and 5 total nominations this year for Roma).
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (Prior Oscar Appearances: He has previously received nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Documentary Feature as well as an Honorary Oscar, but has never before been nominated for Best Director; he is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay this year)
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (Prior Oscar Appearances: He has previously received nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film, but has never before been nominated for Best Director)
Adam McKay, Vice (Prior Oscar Appearances: He was previously nominated in this category for 2015’s The Big Short, for which he won Best Adapted Screenplay; he is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay this year)
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War (Prior Oscar Appearances: He won Best Foreign Language Film for 2014’s Ida, but has never been nominated for Best Director; he is also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film this year)
Best Leading Actress:
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is her film debut)
Glenn Close, The Wife (Prior Oscar Appearances: Glenn Close has never won an Oscar, but has received 6 prior nominations for her roles in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and Albert Nobbs)
Olivia Colman, The Favourite (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is her first nomination)
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born (Prior Oscar Appearances: She has one previous nomination for Best Original Song and one additional nomination this year in the same category; this is her first acting nomination)
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Prior Oscar Appearances: She has one prior nomination for 2011’s Bridesmaids)
Best Leading Actor:
Christian Bale, Vice (Prior Oscar Appearances: He previously won for The Fighter and received additional nominations for American Hustle and The Big Short)
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born (Prior Oscar Appearances: He has three prior acting nominations for Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper, as well as a Best Picture nomination for the latter; he has 3 total nominations this year; he has never won an Oscar)
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (Prior Oscar Appearances: He was previously nominated for Platoon, Shadow of a Vampire, and The Florida Project; he has never won an Oscar)
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is his first nomination)
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (Prior Oscar Appearances: He was previously nominated for Eastern Promises and Captain Fantastic; he has never won an Oscar)
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, Vice (Prior Oscar Appearances: She has never won an Oscar but has 5 prior Oscar nominations for Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, The Master, and American Hustle)
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is her first nomination)
Emma Stone, The Favourite (Prior Oscar Appearances: She won for La La Land and has one additional nomination for Birdman)
Marina de Tavira, Roma (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is her first nomination)
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (Prior Oscar Appearances: She previously won in this category for The Constant Gardener)
Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, Green Book (Prior Oscar Appearances: He won in this category 2 years ago for Moonlight)
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is his first nomination)
Sam Elliott, A Star is Born (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is his first nomination)
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is his first nomination)
Sam Rockwell, Vice (Prior Oscar Appearances: He won this category last year for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Original Screenplay:
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (Prior Oscar Appearances: See above)
Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga, Green Book (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is the first nomination for all 3)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is the first nomination for both of them)
Adam McKay, Vice (Prior Oscar Appearances: See above)
Paul Schrader, First Reformed (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; Remarkably despite writing two of the most acclaimed films in Hollywood history — Taxi Driver and Raging Bull — he has never been nominated)
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Prior Oscar Appearances: Collectively, the filmmaking duo has 16 prior nominations and 4 wins)
Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, and Eric Roth, A Star is Born (Prior Oscar Appearances: See above regarding Cooper; this is the first nomination for Fetters; Roth previously won for writing Forrest Gump and was additionally nominated for writing The Insider, Munich, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Prior Oscar Appearances: None; this is the first nomination for both of them)
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (Prior Oscar Appearances: He previously won this category for Moonlight and was also nominated for directing that film)
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott, BlacKkKlansman (Prior Oscar Appearances: See above regarding Lee; this is the first nomination for the other 3)