For some in Hollywood, Tuesday was a time to pop some early morning Champagne. For others, an opportunity to stew about being led astray and bamboozled, Ja Rule-style. It happens every year after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its Oscar nominations – there’s only so much love to go around. Yet this year, the names left off the ballot seem especially egregious. The Globe and Mail presents an abridged list of the most surprising snubs.
Ryan Coogler, Black Panther: When the Academy announced this past fall that it would be introducing a “most popular movie” award, many saw the move as a crass acknowledgment that Black Panther – one of the most successful films of the year by any metric – would not garner an “actual” nomination come Oscar time. Why should the film settle for a distinctly lesser-than acknowledgment? The Academy backtracked and scrapped the award, and in the end, Black Panther secured a spot as one of eight best-picture nominees. But, bizarrely, that didn’t mean director Ryan Coogler got a nod for best director. Despite Coogler’s work marking a game-changing moment in cinematic history – not only for comic-book movies, but on-screen diversity – it is now apparently a weaker achievement than, say, Adam McKay’s bombastic and odious job on Vice. But which movie will we still be talking about in two decades' time?
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk: Barry Jenkins’s third feature is everything the Academy-beloved Green Book is not: beautiful, elegant, challenging and from the mind of an artist who can actually speak toward the issues Peter Farrelly’s film purports to represent. And yet, Jenkins’s directorial work was bypassed – although he did net a nomination for best adapted screenplay.
Damien Chazelle, First Man: Stretching all the way back to the manufactured controversy questioning its patriotism that erupted shortly after its Venice Film Festival debut, things looked dicey for Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong drama. Give it a few years, though, and we’ll be asking why the Academy misunderstood (or didn’t try to understand, beyond a few technical nods) a four-star classic about humanity’s ceaseless, painful quest for perfection.
Claire Foy, First Man: Speaking of First Man: It’s bad enough Chazelle’s NASA drama largely flew outside the Academy’s radar, but ignoring Foy’s tightly wound turn as Janet Armstrong? (To say nothing of her meme-able line, “You’re a bunch of boys!”) That’s grounds for a one-way ticket to the moon.
Burning: This year’s contingent of foreign-language nominees is across-the-board excellent – well, except for the confusing inclusion of Roma, which double-dipped into both this category and the ultimate prize, best picture. (I’m all for Roma love, but c’mon.) But to altogether ignore Lee Chang-dong’s masterful South Korean thriller is an incendiary mystery all its own.
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed: The actor’s remarkable 2018 speaks to his continuing desire to challenge himself, and the industry at large. Yet the Academy failed to see what makes Hawke such a valuable presence, ignoring the wishes of the Gotham Awards and most major film-critic circles (New York, Los Angeles, Toronto). Their loss.
Toni Collette, Hereditary: A few exceptions aside, horror films scare Academy voters straight – as in, straight into ignoring them altogether. Yet when Collette picked up a surprise best-actress award at this fall’s Gotham Awards, it seemed that Ari Aster’s Hereditary might join the pack of Academy outliers such as The Exorcist, Jaws and Get Out. Collette also had the benefit of offering a performance that could have just as easily worked in a family-mourning drama, as her grieving-mother character just also happened to be dealing with supernatural forces. Ultimately, the Academy ghosted her.
Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here: Perhaps Academy members are nervous as to what the sometimes rambling, always unpredictable Phoenix might say at the podium were he to actually net an Oscar. But to ignore his fully invested work in Lynne Ramsay’s thriller is a mistake that will haunt the Academy for a generation (if, you know, it survives its various scandals to live that long).
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade: When the Golden Globes do something unquestionably right, you know something is up. So when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association offered a best-actress nomination to Elsie, the dynamic 15-year-old star of Bo Burnham’s cringey-but-worthy Eighth Grade, there was faint hope the Academy might do the same. Instead, Fisher woke up Tuesday to the same disappointment her character faced every day in the halls of her kill-or-be-killed high school.
Viola Davis, Widows: After Steve McQueen’s Widows made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the stage seemed set for the director’s genre riff to dominate awards season. It mixed mainstream audience thrills with potent societal commentary, and afforded its big-name stars opportunities to play to their own strengths. (Liam Neeson, for instance, is able to subvert his late-career ass-kicking role, while Brian Tyree Henry gets enough room to be the heaviest of heavies.) But it’s lead Viola Davis who dominates Widows, perfecting a simmering, steadying rage she’s been crafting throughout her career. In other words, the Academy just got away with murder.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers: In one of the best years ever for documentaries – at least at the box office – it was always going to be a game of Who Gets Cut Out? But it’s fairly shocking that two of the most critically acclaimed films of the year (either narrative or doc) miss the ballot, especially considering the Mr. Rogers film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was declared a sure-thing from just about everyone (myself included) from the start. Shed just one more tear for the neighbourhood. And get ready for an all-out awards campaign assault for the forthcoming Tom Hanks-as-Mr. Rogers feature A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, out later this year.
Bao, Animal Behaviour, Weekends among Canadian Oscar nominees
Several Canadians have landed Oscar 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 Canadian Press)
2019 Oscar nominations
The nominees for best picture are
- Black Panther
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- The Favourite
- Green Book
- A Star Is Born
The nominees for 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
The nominees for 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?
The nominees for 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 nominees for 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 nominees for best director
- BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee
- Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski
- The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
- Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
- Vice, Adam McKay
The nominees for Adapted Screenplay
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
- BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
- Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
- If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
- A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters
The nominees for Original Screenplay
- The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
- First Reformed, Paul Schrader
- Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
- Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
- Vice, Adam McKay
The nominees for Foreign Language Film
- Capernaum, Lebanon
- Cold War, Poland
- Never Look Away, Germany
- Roma, Mexico
- Shoplifters, Japan
The nominees for Animated Feature
- Incredibles 2
- Isle of Dogs
- Ralph Breaks the Internet
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
With files from The Associated Press