The countdown has officially begun. At 8:20 a.m. on Tuesday, Oscar nominations were released, with what looks like the most diverse year of nominations yet. This round brought both the expected and unexpected, along with many firsts for some and another chance at a trophy for others.
In one of the cases of both first and unexpected, Black Panther started a first for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It became the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. This film deserves the nomination, but what’s slightly unexpected is that it’s coming from the Academy. Although the decision to add the new category Best Popular Picture backfired on them (and rightfully so), it seems to have been a sign that the Oscars were trying to become (with some trips and falls along the way) more diverse in the material and genre of films nominated.
Another first: Roma is Netflix’s first original production to be nominated for Best Picture. Despite not being their first film nominated for an Oscar (having had eight nominations last year for Mudbound, including the first female cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, to be nominated), Roma is their first to be nominated for best picture. This is another sign of the Academy changing. Roma, a story of a young housekeeper in 1971 Mexico, received the highest number of nominations at 10 along with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favorite. In addition to Best Picture, Roma was also recognized in categories such as Directing, Leading and Supporting Actresses, Original Screenplay and Foreign Language Film. I can tell you this now: check those boxes for Roma in Foreign Language. If it got nominated in the Foreign Language category and Best Picture, it’s nearly a sure bet. The last time a film was nominated for both, Amour took home Foreign Language. For leading actress Yalitza Aparicio, it’s a good thing she decided to join Alfonso Cuarón in the making of Roma, her first film, while she was in between finishing her teaching degree and getting a job. Now she’s the first Mexican indigenous actress to be nominated. She’s definitely a contender to watch as the weeks begin to narrow down.
The Favorite, another film that’s leading the pack in nominations, received nods in areas like Best Picture, Best Actresses, Directing and Original Screenplay. Wonderful actors with wonderful costumes saying wonderful lines — what more could you ask for? Deborah Davis’ and Tony McNamara’s character Abigail, played by Emma Stone, is probably one of my favorite movie characters of all time. She’s clever, sly and complex. A story of power hunters, pain and lesbianism, The Favorite adds yet another layer of diversity to the Oscars.
Many fans will be pleased to hear that Lady Gaga is being recognized for her outstanding work in A Star is Born. Maybe she’ll be able to add an Oscar to her trophy shelf. The movie also received a Best Picture nomination, an Actor in a Leading Role nomination for Bradley Cooper, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song for “Shallow.” Overall, the film, remade from earlier generations, didn’t do so badly.
Bohemian Rhapsody, a strong contender since its release and so far through the Golden Globes where it walked away with two awards, got nominated for five categories, including Best Picture and Actor in a Leading Role. Its strongest bet: Rami Malek. His performance is one of the most talked about.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Oscars without some snubs. For me personally, I would have loved to see First Man nominated for some more categories. I’m a huge fan of Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz (so yes I absolutely adore La La Land). A recognition of Justin Hurwitz for Original Score would have been nice. In addition, it was disappointing to see that On the Basis of Sex, the second film on Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year, received no recognition in any area.
I was also shocked to see that Black Panther was sideswept in the Visual Effects category. Yes, it may be asking for too much since it got the highest honor out of any superhero film to date, but really? Christopher Robin? Over a film that takes place in a technologically advanced society? I understand Avengers, Solo, Ready Player One and even First Man, but not Christopher Robin, especially when this is Marvel’s domain.
For the Academy, the release of nominations was a nice break and distraction from the worry and pressure the public brought on about the host for the 2019 ceremony. But that break won’t last long. Even now, demands are being made about who the next host will be. Hosting the Oscars is already a huge demand. After Kevin Hart, a big name in the comedy department who would’ve no doubt raised viewership, dropped out, it’ll be hard to find someone willing to host who can raise the bar to what Hart’s level could have been. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by that? But, at least we have the nominations, even if no host. Let’s hope we don’t have to listen to Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh host again. Or worse — Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.