91st Academy Award Nominations & Thoughts

For a variety of reasons, the films of 2018 have led to a strange and competitive award season. Now we have the nominees of the 91st Academy Awards, which continue to add fuel to certain fires, as far as which films have been deemed award-worthy, and which ones have been left off the list. Overall, despite some minor surprises here or there, the main categories gave me pretty much a list of everything expected, which is both a little disappointing to see a lack of more variety and disheartening given certain films I don't care for that racked up nominations. Going off of what has been announced today, here's the list of nominees, with some of my own commentary on what I am taking away as of now. The ceremony won't air until February 24, and I'll have more Oscar-related content in the weeks to come. For now, enjoy what I've put together in regards to this year's batch of potential award winners.

A quick breakdown for the films with the most nominations:
Roma - 10, The Favourite - 10, Black Panther - 7, BlacKkKlansman - 6, Bohemian Rhapsody - 5, Green Book - 5, Ballad of Buster Scruggs - 4, First Man - 4, Mary Poppins Returns - 4, If Beale Street Could Talk - 3

Films sadly left out of the conversation entirely (regardless of inevitability):
Blindspotting, The Death of Stalin, Eighth Grade, Hereditary, Leave No Trace, The Rider, You Were Never Really Here, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Annihilation, The Hate U Give, Widows, Sorry to Bother You, Paddington 2

And The Nominees Are:

Best Picture:
(ranked in order of preference - only this category)
“Black Panther”
“The Favourite”
“A Star Is Born”
“Green Book”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”

For anyone that's been keeping up, there are no surprises here, other than perhaps the fact that we only have 8 nominees, as opposed to 9 or the more unlikely 10. This means sadly no room for If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man, or fun and more mainstream outliers such as Crazy Rich Asians, Mary Poppins Returns or A Quiet Place as some may have expected. Given a certain Best Director nominee, I would have been quite happy to see Cold War land a spot here, but it's not as if I expected that either. All of this in mind, BlacKkKlansman is my favorite film of the year, and I hope it goes all the way, even with Roma right in its path. Another plus: Wakanda Forever!

Lead Actor:
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

There were four locks in this category, and it came down to whether Ethan Hawke, John David Washington or Willem Dafoe would land in here. As we can see, the voting branch is big on Van Gogh (as am I), though seeing the younger Washington land a spot would have made me go Boom Shakalaka! As it stands, it would be great to see Cooper be rewarded for his efforts, having missed out on Best Director. It helps that he gave the best performance of this bunch.

Lead Actress:
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Well good for Yalitza Aparicio. A much more introspective performance compared to rival Emily Blunt for Mary Poppins, the other likely nomination here. Yes, Toni Collette was a heavy favorite as well, but I honestly just had to think for a second about Oscar history and realize a lead horror performance nomination is pretty unlikely, as sad as that may be. I'll also add that McCarthy gave her career-best performance, so it's nice to see her land a nomination. Now it's time to see if Close closes in on a career-achievement Oscar unless Colman indeed proves to be the favorite.

Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Another area where the fifth spot was up for grabs it seems, and despite so many great options, the voting branch chose the most high profile supporting performance in Vice, as opposed to the best (Steve Carrell or Tyler Perry). I wouldn't go for it in any category, but we'll see what happens as far as winners go. Ali already has an Oscar, but Green Book's inexplicable run may overshadow Elliot or Grant. And, of course, Driver would be my pick, but it's just nice to see him in here.

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Roma continued to score some bonus points with another acting nomination here, which is a pleasant surprise. That said, will Adams finally go home with a win? Will the two Favourites cancel each other out? Or perhaps Regina King, already a favorite, wins to make up for all the ways Beale Street was looked over.

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”

So I guess Peter Farrelly wasn't one of the years best directors...Jokes aside, Pawel Pawlikowski's name being on this list makes me very happy, given how much praise I have for Cold War. Bradley Cooper may have missed out, but surely he can pull something like this off again. In the meantime, it seems like a long road ahead, but perhaps Lee can finally pull off a win with his first nomination over Alfonso Cuaron, the heavy favorite here.

Animated Feature:
“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

While I was betting on a more obscure nomination for a film like Tito and the Birds to sneak in over Ralph Breaks the Internet, this is a pretty fine list to work with. I'm just hoping Spider-Man can go the distance and take home the gold.

Animated Short:
“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez

I look forward to catching up with these.

Adapted Screenplay:
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, 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, Will Fetters

Too bad for Death of Stalin or Leave No Trace. It would have been great for those films to get some minimal love here at least. That said, Buster Scruggs! Wow, Netflix did spend a lot of money on this campaign. And at least Barry Jenkins got some love here for his terrific adaptation of James Baldwin's work.

Original Screenplay:

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

Okay...well Eighth Grade or Sorry To Bother You seemed like probable contenders, and you know I would have loved to see Blindspotting enter in this fold, but no dice. At least Paul Schrader finally scored a nomination.

“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique

My favorite category delivers a competitive list for sure, given all that was left out, including First Man and Beale StreetBlack Panther and Buster Scruggs also missed out, among many others. Still, period pieces are really duking it out for the win.

Best Documentary Feature:
“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Well, the biggest surprise here is that, once again, the documentary branch did not go for the presumed frontrunner, Won't You Be My Neighbor. That said, very happy to see 2018's best documentaries, Free Solo and Minding the Gap, now on the path towards a win.

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Black Sheep,” Ed Perkins
“End Game,” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
“Lifeboat,” Skye Fitzgerald
“A Night at the Garden,” Marshall Curry
“Period. End of Sentence.,” Rayka Zehtabchi

Hoping not all of these are depressing.

Best Live Action Short Film:
“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte
“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley
“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
“Skin,” Guy Nattiv

Another set of films I look forward to watching.

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Capernaum” (Lebanon)
“Cold War” (Poland)
“Never Look Away” (Germany)
“Roma” (Mexico)
“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Burning getting snubbed is going to upset a lot of people. Still, mostly the films expected here. Is there a chance Cold War could upset Roma? I'd certainly be happy to see it.

Film Editing:
“BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman
“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Vice,” Hank Corwin

This one hurt a lot of people. Green Book for editing over Roma, First Man AND A Star is Born? That's true madness. That said, that may also have just setup BlacKkKlansman and Green Book as the official frontrunners for Best Picture, as editing and picture often go hand to hand, and those are undoubtedly big favorites.

Sound Editing:
“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Everything I expected to land here, though the Oscars really don't like the Mission: Impossible franchise...

Sound Mixing:
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“A Star Is Born”

Musicals are usually a good bet here, so I'm a little surprised Mary Poppins Returns didn't quite make it, though I can't deny expectations for what did.

Production Design:
“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Another very appropriate set of nominees, covering a wide range of ideas for how to design the look of a film's various settings.

Original Score:
“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Wow, First Man's score denied. The Oscars were just not having it with this movie. Very happy to see Terence Blanchard honored for the first time and I was big on the BlacKkKlansman themes. Beale Street is my favorite score of 2018, so I look forward to seeing if it goes all the way here.

Original Song:
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Buster Scruggs again! Such a wonderful tune that hops in against a few other musical choice options. This is likely "Shallow"'s to lose, but happy to see Kendrick Lamar hop in as well. Would have been great to see some other wild choices here (Eminem's "Venom," anyone?), but I'll take the cowboy song.

Makeup and Hair:
“Mary Queen of Scots”

I'm a little disappointed that Black Panther didn't make the list here. At the same time, Border is an inspired choice.

Costume Design:
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

As one would expect, the costume dramas were favorites for nominations, but Buster Scruggs pulled off another nomination too. That said, Ruth Carter's work on Black Panther was exceptional and appropriately awarded with a nom as well.

Visual Effects:
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Given that every visual effects company in the world worked on 2018's biggest worldwide hit, Avengers: Infinity War, it's hard to see that film losing out. That said, this category has offered surprises before. Plus, I am happy that Ready Player One scored a nomination here. Some dismiss the film, but the visual effects are terrific.


And that does it for the nominations and my commentary for now. The Oscars will air February 24. I'll have some podcasts and possibly other stuff coming up between now and then.


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