And the Nominees for the 95th Academy Awards Are…
[Note: The following article features my analysis of the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards. Click here to see my preview of the ceremony and predictions in all 23 categories.]
At 5:30am Pacific Time this morning, Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams announced the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, which are set to air on ABC on March 12th. There were shocking snubs, surprise inclusions, and new records abound. Below I list the key takeaways and the nominees in the major categories, along with their Oscar history.
11 Key Headlines from This Morning’s Oscar Nominations
1.) It Was a Great Morning for Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Fabelmans, Triangle of Sadness, and Women Talking. The 2 films that I expected to dominate the race did just that. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s absurdist, genre-defying spectacle Everything Everywhere All At Once scored a field-leading 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and 4 acting nominations. Close behind was Martin McDonagh’s darkly comic Irish period piece The Banshees of Inisherin, which scored 9 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and 4 acting nominations. (Fun Fact: You would have to go back decades to find a year when 2 films accounted for 8 of the 20 acting nominations.) But they weren’t the only ones that had a good morning. Two films that seemed to have their fates sealed in very different ways by last week’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards nominations had terrific mornings. Edward Berger’s adaptation of the World War I novel All Quiet on the Western Front scored a jaw-dropping 14 BAFTA nominations after a tepid run at the other precursor awards and today received 9 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best International Feature. In contrast, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming of age drama The Fabelmans rebounded from its dismal BAFTA showing (where it received a sole nomination) to receive 7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and 2 acting nominations. Then there is Ruben Östlund’s satirical comedy Triangle of Sadness and Sarah Polley’s searing drama Women Talking, which overcame an inconsistent showing in the precursors to score the hotly debated final 2 spots in Best Picture. (Prior to this morning, pundits were generally in agreement about 8 spots while speculation about what films would get the last 2 varied wildly.)
2.) It Was a Bad Morning for Babylon, The Woman King, Till, and RRR. No film that was expected to make a major showing failed to, but there were several films that pundits were holding out hope for that disappointed. Chief among them was Damien Chazelle’s debaucherous Old Hollywood epic Babylon, which scored Best Picture nominations (or equivalent) from Critics’ Choice, the Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild only scored 3 nominations, all in craft categories. Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler’s acclaimed performances in The Woman King and Till, respectively, were nominated virtually everywhere but both failed to make the cut this morning (and their films failed to score a single nomination this morning). And then there’s the Indian epic RRR, which broke out in the U.S. in a big way. Many thought it could sneak into Best Picture, but, alas, its sole nomination was in Best Original Song (for the show-stopping number “Naatu Naatu”).
3.) It Was a Mixed Morning for Elvis, The Whale, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. With 8 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor, it is hard to call Elvis’s showing a disappointment. However, its failure to score a nod for Baz Lurhmann in Best Director or Best Original Screenplay may signal weaker Academy support than many anticipated. Similarly, Top Gun: Maverick scored 6 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, but its failure to score a nod for Joseph Kosinski in Best Director or Tom Cruise in Best Actor made it fall a bit short. Many (including me) suspected that the acclaim for its performances and surprisingly strong box office would elevate The Whale into the Picture and Adapted Screenplay race. However, it only showed up in Actor, Supporting Actress, and Makeup and Hairstyling. And then there’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Its 5 nominations included the 1st ever acting nomination for a Marvel film (Angela Bassett as Queen Ramona), but its failure to land in Best Picture despite its Producers Guild nomination in the equivalent category and its predecessor’s history-making nomination there, mean that it was a mixed showing for the film.
4.) It Was a Complicated Morning for Diversity and Inclusion. Of the 20 acting nominees, 13 are non-Hispanic White and the remaining 7 are Asian (Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau), Black (Angela Bassett and Brian Tyree Henry), and Latina (Ana de Armas). Another fascinating statistic is that after they have gone virtually un-rewarded for 9 decades, we are now in a 4-year streak of major nominations for films centering on Asians (2019’s Parasite, 2020’s Minari, 2021’s Drive My Car, and now 2022’s Everything Everywhere All At Once). This is some strong representation and certainly not a year when the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is earned. However, 2 high-profile Black women were omitted from Best Actress despite an excellent showing in the precursors (Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler), thus extending the Academy’s atrocious representation of black women in the lead actress category; women were nowhere to be found in Best Director following the historic back-to-back wins of Chloe Zhao and Jane Campion (only the 2nd and 3rd women to win in the category in 94 years); and the 14 screenwriters nominated across the 10 nominated screenplays only included one woman (Sarah Polley) and one non-White person (Daniel Kwan).
5.) Steven Spielberg Scores a Record-Breaking 14th Best Picture Nomination. The legendary director has now directed 14 Best Picture nominees, breaking his tie with William Wyler to make him the director with the most films nominated for Best Picture. His Best Picture-nominated films prior to The Fabelmans were Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Letters from Iwo Jima, War Horse, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, The Post, and West Side Story. He has received Best Picture nominations spanning 47 years and 6 decades. He also receives. His nomination for Best Director marks his 9th nomination in the category, tying him with Martin Scorcese for the 2nd most nominations in the category behind William Wyler’s 13. His nomination in Best Original Screenplay (shared with Tony Kushner) mark 1st ever nomination for screenwriting. He now has a mightily impressive 22 Oscar nominations. (He has won 3 times — Best Picture and Best Director for Schindler’s List and Best Director for Saving Private Ryan).
6.) Cate Blanchett and Tom Hanks Join Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, and Leonardo DiCaprio in a Very Elite Group. When Tár and Elvis received Best Picture nominations, it brought a special distinction for Cate Blanchett and Tom Hanks, respectively. It marked the 10th time they appeared in a Best Picture nominee. They join Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in a 4-way tie for 2nd place behind Robert DeNiro, who has appeared in 11 Best Picture nominees. Although any actors active since the expansion of the Best Picture category in 2009 had an easier shot at this record due to the additional slots, it is nevertheless an impressive feat. For reference, Cate Blanchett’s previous 9 Best Picture nominees were Elizabeth, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Aviator, Babel, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Don’t Look Up, and Nightmare Alley. Elvis adds to Tom Hanks’s previous 9 nominees Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Toy Story 3, Captain Phillips, Bridge of Spies, and The Post.
7.) Two Music Legends Extend Their Nomination Records. Legendary composer John Williams received his 53rd Oscar nomination for composing the score to The Fabelmans, which extends his record as the most-nominated living person. (He is 2nd to Walt Disney, who has 59 nominations.) John Williams also sets a record for the oldest Oscar nominee ever at age 90. Meanwhile, legendary songwriter Diane Warren received her 14th Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, a little-seen anthology film. She now ties late sound engineer Loren L. Ryder with the 5th most nominations without a win. (The all-time most nominated person without a win is sound engineer Greg P. Russell with 16 nominations.) Warren can take some solace, however, in the fact that she is one of the three recipients of the Academy Honorary Award this year. (Australian filmmaker Peter Weir and Martinican filmmaker Euzhan Palcy are the other two recipients.)
8.) It Was a Record Year for First-Time Acting Nominees. 16 of the 20 acting nominees were 1st-time nominees, marking the best showing for for 1st-time nominees in several decades. And of the 4 returning nominees, only Cate Blanchett and Michelle Williams had multiple nominations. Of particular interest is the Best Actor category where it was the 1st lineup of 1st-time nominees in 88 years, since the 7th Academy Awards in 1934.
9.) Andrea Riseborough’s Celebrity-Backed Grassroots Campaign Was a Success. As Oscar voting kicked off, a spate of A-list Hollywood royalty began loudly singing the praises of Andrea Riseborough’s performance in the little-seen indie To Leslie. Riseborough received an Independent Spirit Award nomination and a win from the Chicago Film Critics Association, but was omitted from every single precursor — Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA. Her inclusion in Best Actress this year was unthinkable a few weeks ago and marks one of the biggest surprises in recent Oscar history. (Click here for more information about the rise of Riseborough.)
10.) An Astonishing Morning for Sequels. In the 95-year history of the Academy Awards only a handful of sequels have made major appearances in the top categories. The Godfather Part II and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Best Picture and three additional sequels have been nominated for Best Picture — The Godfather Part III, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Toy Story 3. This year, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water are both nominated in Best Picture, marking the first time two sequels have ever been nominated in one year. Add to that Angela Bassett’s history-making nomination for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Rian Johnson’s nomination for writing Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and you have a banner year for sequels at the Oscars.
11.) The Races Remain Competitive in All Top 8 Categories. The closet thing we have to a “sure thing” in any of the 8 categories is Ke Huy Quan in Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All At Once. He has picked up the Globe and Critics’ Choice and received nominations from SAG and BAFTA. It’s possible that industry veteran Brendan Gleeson could take him down for his turn in The Banshees of Inisherin, but that is feeling increasingly unlikely. In an equally good position is Angela Bassett, who also received the Globe and Critics’ Choice and received nominations from SAG and BAFTA. However, she is in a slightly weaker position due to genre bias against fantasy/superhero/science fiction films in the acting categories. Best Actor continues to be a 3-way race between The Whale’s Brendan Fraser, The Banshees of Inisherin’s Colin Farrell, and Elvis’s Austin Butler, although Fraser appears to be out in the lead. Best Actress is a dead-heat race between Tár’s Cate Blanchett and Everything Everywhere All At Once’s Michelle Yeoh. (And only time will tell if the groundswell of support for Andrea Riseborough can lift her to a win.) Best Picture and Best Director remain up in the air, although Everything, Banshees, and The Fabelmans are certainly in the strongest positions after this morning’s showing. As for the screenplay categories, I have been predicting Martin McDonagh and Sarah Polley from the start and have no reason to change that now. However, those categories are ripe for an upset.
Bonus Fun Facts:
- With her 8th acting nomination this year, Cate Blanchett joins Judi Dench, Glenn Close, and Geraldine Page in a 4-way tie for 4th place among the most nominated actresses in history behind Bette Davis (10 nominations), Katharine Hepburn (12 nominations), and Meryl Streep (11 nominations).
- Frances McDormand has now received 8 Oscar nominations — 3 for Best Actress (Fargo, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Nomadland), 3 for Best Supporting Actress (Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country), and 2 for Best Picture (Nomadland and Women Talking).
- Roger Deakins received his astounding 15th Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for his work on Empire of Light.
- Lady Gaga received her 4th Oscar nomination this morning for writing the song “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick.
- Stephanie Hsu becomes only the second openly queer performer in history to receive an acting nomination for playing a queer character and the first since Ian McKellen for Gods and Monsters in 1998.
- Michelle Yeoh became the second Asian woman to be nominated in the Best Actress category and first since Merle Oberon for Dark Angel in 1935 (!!).
- Angela Bassett becomes only the 4th Black actress in history to score multiple Oscar nominations after Viola Davis (4), Octavia Spencer (3), and Whoopi Goldberg (2).
- Judd Hirsch now has the distinction of having the longest time period between acting nominations, with this year’s nomination for The Fabelmans coming 42 years after his nomination in the same category for Ordinary People (1980). At 87, he’s the second oldest acting nominee ever behind Christopher Plummer.
- We are now living amidst the longest Oscar dry spell in Meryl Streep’s illustrious career. Her last nomination was in 2017 for The Post, meaning that there have now been 5 years without seeing her name among the nominees. That beats out her 4-year dry spell covering 1991 to 1994 to mark the longest period she has gone without an Oscar nomination since she received her 1st for 1978’s The Deer Hunter. (As mentioned above, Streep is far out front as the most nominated actor in history, with her 21 acting nominations dwarfing her 12-time nominated closest competitors Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson.
Note on my predictions: Of the 45 nominees in the top 8 categories (Best Picture, Best Director, the 4 acting categories, and the 2 screenplay categories) I correctly predicted 35 (78%). Of the 10 I missed, all were on my list of potential alternatives. This is a slight uptick from last year’s 76% but remains lower than my performance the prior three years when I got 81%, 82% and 86% correct. But it’s really a win either way. If my predictions are accurate, I get bragging rights. If they are inaccurate, I get the benefit of a fresh and exciting race.
The Nominees in the Top 8 Categories
- All Quiet on the Western Front (9 nominations)
- Avatar: The Way of Water (4 nominations)
- The Banshees of Inisherin (9 nominations)
- Elvis (8 nominations)
- Everything Everywhere All At Once (11 nominations)
- The Fabelmans (7 nominations)
- Tár (6 nominations)
- Top Gun: Maverick (6 nominations)
- Triangle of Sadness (3 nominations)
- Women Talking (2 nominations)
- Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once (Received their first 3 nominations this year for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay)
- Todd Field, Tár (Now has 6 nominations across 4 categories — Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay this year; Adapted Screenplay for Little Children; Picture and Adapted Screenplay for In the Bedroom)
- Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (Now has 7 nominations across 4 categories — Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay this year; Live Action Short Film for Six Shooter, Original Screenplay for In Bruges; Picture and Original Screenplay for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; he has 1 Oscar for the Live Action Short Film Six Shooter)
- Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness (Received his first 2 nominations this year for Director and Original Screenplay)
- Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (Now has 22 nominations — Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay for The Fabelmans this year; Picture and Director for ET, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Lincoln, and West Side Story; Picture only for The Color Purple, Letters from Iwo Jima, War Horse, Bridge of Spies, and The Post; Director only for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Raiders of the Lost Ark; he has 3 Oscar wins — Picture and Director for Schindler’s List and Director for Saving Private Ryan)
Best Leading Actress
- Cate Blanchett, Tár (7 prior nominations — Actress for Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Blue Jasmine, and Carol; Supporting Actress for The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal, and I’m Not There; she won Actress for Blue Jasmine and Supporting Actress for The Aviator).
- Ana de Armas, Blonde (1st nomination)
- Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie (1st nomination)
- Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (4 prior nominations — Actress for Blue Valentine and My Week with Marilyn; Supporting Actress for Brokeback Mountain and Manchester by the Sea; she has never won)
- Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once (1st nomination)
Best Leading Actor
- Austin Butler, Elvis (1st nomination)
- Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (1st nomination)
- Brendan Fraser, The Whale (1st nomination)
- Paul Mescal, Aftersun (1st nomination)
- Bill Nighy, Living (1st nomination)
Best Supporting Actress
- Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (1 prior nomination — Actress for What’s Love Got To Do With It?)
- Hong Chau, The Whale (1st nomination)
- Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (1st nomination)
- Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All At Once (1st nomination)
- Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All At Once (1st nomination)
Best Supporting Actor
- Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (1st nomination)
- Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway (1st nomination)
- Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (1 prior nomination — Supporting Actor for Ordinary People)
- Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (1st nomination)
- Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once (1st nomination)
Best Original Screenplay
- Todd Field, Tár (See above)
- Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once (See above)
- Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (See above)
- Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness (See above)
- Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, The Fabelmans (Spielberg — See above; Kushner now has 4 nominations — Picture and Original Screenplay this year; 2 prior nominations in Adapted Screenplay for Munich and Lincoln)
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (1st nomination)
- Kazuo Ishiguro, Living (1st nomination)
- Rian Johnson, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (1 prior nomination for Original Screenplay for the original Knives Out)
- Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie, Top Gun: Maverick (Kruger — 1st nomination; Singer — 1 prior nomination for Original Screenplay for American Hustle, McQuarrie — also nominated for Picture this year and has 1 prior nomination and win for Original Screenplay for The Usual Suspects)
- Sarah Polley, Women Talking (1 prior nomination — Adapted Screenplay for Away From Her)
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