Oscar voters on Tuesday showered Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” with a leading 10 nominations to the 91st Academy Awards, while two dominant but contentious Hollywood forces — Netflix and Marvel — each scored their first best picture nomination.
Though many expected “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper’s tear-inducing revival of one of Hollywood’s most oft-remade show-business myths, to top nominations, Cooper was surprisingly overlooked as director and the academy instead put its fullest support behind a pair of indies by international directors. “A Star Is Born” did land eight nominations, including best actress for Lady Gaga and best supporting actor for Sam Elliott.
With “Roma,” Netflix scored its first best picture nomination, a prize the streaming giant has dearly sought. Cuaron tied the record for most decorated Oscar nominee ever for one film with four nods “Roma,” his deeply personal exhumation of his Mexico City childhood. Cuaron earned nods for direction, cinematography, original screenplay and best picture. Only Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”) and Warren Beatty (“Reds,” ”Heaven Can Wait“) have matched the four-nod feat.
Just as rewarded Tuesday was Lanthimos’ period romp, which resounded most in the acting categories thanks to its trio of actresses: Olivia Colman in the best actress category, and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in supporting.
Along with “Roma” and “The Favourite,” the nominees for best picture are: Peter Farrelly’s interracial road trip tale “Green Book,” Ryan Coogler’s superhero sensation “Black Panther,” Spike Lee’s white supremacist evisceration “BlacKkKlansman,” the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Adam McKay’s highly critical Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” and “A Star Is Born.”
With “Black Panther,” Marvel joined the club with the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture. Despite the overwhelming popularity of comic book movies, they had previously been shunned from Hollywood’s top honour, to the consternation of some industry insiders. After “The Dark Knight” was snubbed in 2009, the academy expanded the best picture category from five to up to 10 nominees.
There has also been some resistance among some academy members to Netflix films since the company typically bypasses movie theatres. Steven Spielberg has said Netflix films are more like TV movies and deserve an Emmy, not an Oscar. Netflix altered its policy for “Roma” and the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (which also earned three unexpected nods), premiering them first in theatres before debuting them on Netflix. In turn, it was rewarded with 13 nominations overall.
Thirty years after landing a writing nod for 1989’s Do the Right Thing,“ Spike Lee was nominated for his first directing Oscar for his ”BlacKkKlansman.“ The other directing nominees were Lanthimos, Cuaron, Pawel Pawlikowski (”Cold War“) and McKay (”Vice“) — a field that, a year after continued focus on gender inequality in Hollywood, included no female directors. Some had campaigned for Debra Granik (”Leave No Trace“) or Chloe Zhao (”The Rider“) to become the sixth woman ever nominated for best director.
Several Canadians also landed nominations. The category for best animated short includes the Pixar production “Bao” by Toronto-raised Domee Shi. Also on that list is “Animal Behaviour” by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden, and “Weekends” by Canadian-born director Trevor Jimenez.
Meanwhile, the live action short film category has two finalists from Montreal — Jeremy Comte for “Fauve” and Marianne Farley for “Marguerite.”
Other Canadians up for the golden statuette this year include sound mixer Paul Massey for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and set decorator Gordon Sim for “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Shi is the first female director to helm a Pixar short film. The eight-minute “Bao” is the story of an older Chinese woman who gets another chance at motherhood when one of her steamed dumplings comes to life.
Fine and Snowden are a husband-and-wife filmmaking team who won an Oscar in 1994 for best animated short for “Bob’s Birthday.”
“Animal Behaviour” was produced at the National Film Board of Canada and gives a comedic look at animals in a group therapy session.
Jimenez has been a story artist for more than 10 years, at companies including Disney Feature Animation and Pixar, where he currently works.
His film “Weekends” is set in 1980s Toronto and features hand-drawn animations.
The nominations, announced by Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross from Los Angeles’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, included plenty of surprises. In a banner year for documentaries, the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbour” was snubbed despite more than $22 million in ticket sales (a huge sum for a doc). Instead the nominees were “Free Solo,” ”Hale County This Morning, This Evening,“ ”Minding the Gap,“ ”Of Fathers and Sons“ and the Ruth Bader Ginsberg portrait ”RBG.“
The acting categories played out largely as expected with a few notable differences. Along with Lady Gaga and Colman, the best actress nominees are Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), Glenn Close (“The Wife”) and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”).
In best actor, the expected front runner Christian Bale was nominated for his transformation into Cheney in “Vice” (his fourth Oscar nod), along with Cooper, Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”). Notably left out were Ethan Hawke (“First Reformed”) and John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”).
The nominees for best supporting actress were Amy Adams (“Vice”), Marina De Tavira (“Roma”), Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), along with Stone and Weisz. Tavira was something a surprise, likely unseating Claire Foy of “First Man.”
But perhaps the biggest snub came in best supporting actor, where Timothy Chalamet, who broke through last year with “Call Me By Your Name,” was left out for his drug addict in “Beautiful Boy.” Nominated instead were Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”), Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”), Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and Sam Rockwell (“Vice”).
Some Oscar regulars were honoured again. Joel and Ethan Coen notched their seventh screenwriting nomination. Close, never a winner, landed her seventh acting nod. But the nominees were crowded with first-timers, including some new performers (Aparicio) and some veteran ones (Grant, Colman, Driver, King). Paul Schrader, the 72-year-old “Taxi Driver” scribe, was nominated for his first Oscar for the script to his religious thriller “First Reformed.”
The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations was rocky for both the film academy and some of the contending movies. Shortly after being announced as host, comedian Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before the Feb. 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.
Some film contenders, like “Green Book” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. Before landing five nominations Tuesday, “Green Book” won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honour that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.
The season’s steadiest contender — Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes. Still, “A Star Is Born” was the sole film to land top nominations from virtually every guild group.
Potentially benefiting this year’s broadcast will be a number of popular nominees. “Black Panther,” ”Bohemian Rhapsody“ and ”A Star Is Born“ have all done enormous box office. Just how many people have seen ”Roma,“ though, remains a mystery. Netflix doesn’t release box office receipts or streaming viewership.
The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 per cent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year’s telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.
With files from the Canadian Press