The Oscar nominees were announced this morning marking the beginning of a month of lobbying and speculation about who will win what. With everything fresh in mind let’s take a look at the big categories (Best Picture, Director and the four acting categories) to see who has the inside track, who surprised with their nomination and who inevitably was left out.
Best Actress in a Lead Role:
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Olivia Coleman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star is Born)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
The Favorites: Glenn Close, Lady Gaga and Olivia Coleman
This one is sort of jump ball with all 3 of the co-favorites receiving awards season accolades for their roles. I must admit that The Wife is a film I still have to catch up on, but if one contender is separating herself from the others it seems to be Glenn Close. Whoever takes this award will be deserving as the 4 performances I’ve seen are fantastic.
The Surprise: Yalitza Aparicio
It’s fairly surprising to see Yalitza Aparicio on the Oscar shortlist for lead actress, but it is certainly deserved. So much of Roma depends on her nuanced performance as everything happening around her is so immense. Almost more interesting is what her nomination means for Roma. Unexpected recognition in the acting category could indicate more attention being paid to the film than we had anticipated.
The Snub: Toni Collette (Hereditary)
As much as I would have loved to see Regina Hall nominated for Support The Girls, the size and reach of that film was always going to make a nomination tough for her. Same goes for Rosamund Pike (A Private War) who gave one of the most believable performances in a really tough role. Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns) seemed to have a chance but was always going to be compared, fairly or not, against Julie Andrews.
This of course leaves the woman who was getting a lot of buzz early in the year, Toni Collette. Collette gives a harrowing lead performance in a movie that was a bit of a surprise hit. Alas A24’s bizarre decision to give Mid90s the late Oscar bait release rather than Eighth Grade and Collete’s Hereditary probably cost her and the film some Academy love.
Best Actor in a Lead Role:
Christian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
The Favorite: Christian Bale
If the Academy loves anything, its a transformation. Look no further than Gary Oldman’s win last year. Bale is quite good as Dick Cheney even if the phrenetic Vice doesn’t always make the most of his performance. The failings of that film certainly aren’t in the area of acting. Bale took home a Golden Globe and pretty much assumed the role of front runner at the first screenings of Vice.
The Dark Horse: Bradley Cooper
It is a bit strange to think of Bradley Cooper as a dark horse in this race since he was the assumed favorite from September until Vice got its release at Christmas. Make no mistake though, Cooper is still very much in the conversation. His snub in the directing category could cause voters to give him some acting love as something of a make up or to acknowledge his contributions to a very good and successful film.
The Surprise: Willem Dafoe
This one is easy. How many people even knew Willem Dafoe was in a movie other than Aquaman this year? How many people initially saw this and thought his nomination was FOR Aquaman? Yikes. At Eternity’s Gate got a very limited release, while the film was a bit too meandering for me, Dafoe was undoubtedly very good as Vincent Van Gough. This one is a pleasant surprise even if he did displace a better performance than a couple that were nominated.
The Snub: John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)
I know most people are suggesting that Ethan Hawke was robbed here, his nomination always seemed like a long shot due to the limited box office reach of First Reformed. He is another casualty of A24’s release schedule. For me the more surprising snub is John David Washington, mostly because the film he led garnered nominations in just about every major category. BlacKkKlansman was a triumph in many ways, but Washington’s controlled anger through a crisis of identity really sets the tone for that film. It’s too bad that he was the one to miss the cut.
Best 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)
The Favorite: Regina King
This is another really strong group of nominees. As good as Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were in The Favourite, they seem destined to split the vote for their film. Regina King is the beneficiary there although she delivers such a riveting performance that the help may not have been necessary. Another thing to note is that Beale Street was shutout of all the other big categories meaning that voters wanting to celebrate a truly incredible film may express that with a win for King.
The Dark Horse: Amy Adams
Amy Adams is tremendous in every role she inhabits and her turn as Lynne Cheney is no different. I wasn’t particularly moved by Vice, but Adams was without a doubt the best part of the film. She has a chance if voters want to make up for her snub in 2017 for Arrival.
The Surprise: Marina de Tavira
Marina de Tavira’s nomination may be the biggest (and best) surprise of this year’s Oscars. Her sometimes frantic performance is critical as a balance to Yalitza Aparicio’s more muted Cleo. Although she delivers in the role, de Tavira never really registered as a contender because her role came in a foreign language film . It’s fantastic to see her and Aparicio get well deserved attention from the Academy.
The Snub: Claire Foy (First Man)
The feel good story of de Tavira’s nomination is a story of disappointment for Claire Foy. Her performance stands out for its emotion in a film that is full of more rigid and restrained characters. Foy’s snub ended up being emblematic of the entire Oscar campaign of First Man. The film was shutout of every major category despite being a technical marvel and a much better film than its box office numbers would indicate.
Best 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)
The Favorite: Mahershala Ali
Green Book has faced its fair share of backlash, but Ali has come away mostly unscathed. That’s great because he is genuinely the best part of an otherwise forgettable movie. He plays Don Shirley with all the poise and grace that the character deserves and reminds us all why he is considered one of the best working actors today.
The Dark Horse: Richard E. Grant
They have to give Can You Ever Forgive Me? something, right? Grant is certainly deserving, he is so good as Melissa McCarthy’s foil. It’s not hard to see a situation where the Green Book backlash is enough to take down Ali and open the door for Grant.
The Surprise: Sam Rockwell
Adam Driver and Sam Elliott are both pleasant surprises in this category, but neither are as genuinely bizarre as Rockwell getting a nomination for like 3 scenes of a decent Bush impersonation. His performance doesn’t really add a whole lot to the movie even if it is pretty entertaining.
The Snub: Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy) might be the right answer here. Or maybe it’s Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), who I am genuinely shocked didn’t get nominated. Killmonger was easily a career high for him and I’m skeptical that Black Panther works as well as a film without that performance.
But for me Brian Tyree Henry’s one scene in Beale Street is so critical to the film that I would say without it, the movie falls apart. The audience’s emotional connection to the events at the end of Beale Street are entirely dependent on Henry’s ability to convey those same emotions earlier. That may not make sense for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, but its impossible to see Beale Street and come away with any other conclusion.
A Star is Born
The Favo(u)rite: Roma
Tied with The Favourite for the lead in nominations at 10, Roma seems poised to take home the big prize. Surprise acting nominations for both Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira show more support for Cuarón’s retrospective than had been expected. That could mean a big win for what I consider to be the best film of the year.
The Dark Horse: Green Book
Controversy in recent weeks surrounding writer Nick Vallelonga and claims that the film may not be as true as advertised weren’t enough to keep Green Book from a nomination, but the lack of a directing nod for Peter Farrelly doesn’t bode well for the film’s chances of a win. That said, Green Book took home wins at both the Globes and PGA awards and remains very much in the race.
The Surprise: Bohemian Rhapsody
Clearly Bohemian Rhapsody was incredibly popular and resonated with enough people to carry it through awards season. Is it really fair to keep criticizing it in the face of all this success? Yes. It’s a crowd pleaser and was rewarded for that in the box office. It’s also a poorly constructed piece of filmmaking by a director with credible allegations of sexual abuse against him. It doesn’t deserve to be awarded any further.
The Snub: If Beale Street Could Talk
2018 was a tremendous year for movies and there are a number of great films that were worthy of a nomination. First Man and Can You Ever Forgive Me? were genuinely great but lacked the box office showing to break through. Sorry To Bother You, Eighth Grade and Blidspotting were all mid year releases that never garnered the awards buzz they probably deserved. But the biggest snub in the big category was Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. Beale Street was a gorgeous piece of cinematography telling a beautiful and powerful story. It’s certainly the best film not nominated for Best Picture and better than at least a few of those that were.
Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War)
The Favorite: Afonso Cuarón
This one certainly feels like Cuarón’s to lose. He has the Golden Globe, he has the DGA nomination, he has the Oscar pedigree, and of course Roma is an intricate masterpiece. The only way I can see Cuarón missing out here is if Roma wins Best Picture and the Academy decides to spread the love in this category.
The Dark Horse: Spike Lee
No doubt Spike Lee’s joint is the other Best Picture that is directed at a near perfect level. He threads the needle on BlacKkKlansman making the audience feel every ounce of rage Lee infused the film with. Let’s not forget too that this is, shockingly, the first director nod for Lee. Would it be all that surprising to see the Academy recognize the great film Lee made and his contributions to film across his career?
The Surprise: Paweł Pawlikowski
Who saw this coming? It’s great that the Polish director is getting wider recognition for a really creatively directed film, but this nomination took everyone by surprise. Cold War is beautiful and inventive in the way it plays with time and distance, a piece of art by a brilliant director.
The Snub: Women
The names you’ll see a lot of here are of course Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) and Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk). They both made tremendous films but the most egregious oversight by the Academy this year is the lack of recognition for the brilliant work of female directors. Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? was one of the best films of the year striking a perfect tone and drawing a career best performance from Melissa McCarthy. Leave No Trace was intricate and real, earning director Debra Granik accolades from critics groups across the country. Lynne Ramsey crafted a creative, unconventional thriller that managed to be simultaneously brutal and delicate with You Were Never Really Here. I could go on. The year was filled with brilliant films directed by women, which makes it so disappointing that they were overlooked entirely.
Do you have a snub or surprise that I missed? Leave a comment or tweet it to me @Sneakysnake26.