E: Yep, that’s what I figured was going to happen. Oscar loves what it loves – in this case, Joker, 1917, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, and The Irishman. Films by white men, for white men, starring white men, featuring almost no women or people of color. Let’s review:
Best Supporting Actor – 5/5
My predictions: Pacino, Pesci, Pitt, Hanks, Hopkins
Oscar nominated: Pacino, Pesci, Pitt, Hanks, Hopkins
I feel like this slate was pretty clear, although I wasn’t 100% sold that they were finally going to give the nicest guy in Hollywood another nomination. Hurrah, they did! I had a strong feeling that they’d like The Two Popes, which wasn’t a given, and lo, they did. This is not the first time at the rodeo for any of these fellows; four** out of the five have won acting awards, and soon it will be all five when Brad Pitt likely adds a Best Supporting Actor nod to his Best Picture statuette for 12 Years a Slave. (Last night the Critics Choice held their awards, and confirmed the four acting winners picked by the Golden Globes as likely unbeatable frontrunners.) This is his fourth acting nod, and his seventh over all. Pesci picks up his third (and first in this millenium), Pacino his ninth and first since 1993, Hopkins his fifth (and first since 1997), and Hanks his 6th.
Best Supporting Actress: 4/5
My Predictions: Dern, Robbie, Johansson, Lopez, Pugh
Oscar Nominated: Bates, Dern, Johansson, Pugh, Robbie
I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that the Academy balked over nominating Jennifer Lopez for playing a stripper, but I’m sorry we’re getting a slate of actors that looks less like America because of that choice. Looks like her snub at the BAFTAs, after scoring nods everything else, was a sign here. I’m excited for Johansson – picking up her first nomination after skirting the dance floor so many time, and not just one nomination, but two! She was an vital part of the biggest movie of the year (Avengers: Endgame), she has roles in two Best Picture nominees, and is nominated for both of those roles? That kind of year doesn’t come along so often. She’s only the twelfth person to be nominated for two acting awards in the same year – including one who was nominated twice for the same role, due to category confusion. You have to go back to the 1940s to find such an event – but the contrast is that the movies that were nominated for Best Picture in the 1940s (Mrs Miniver, Going My Way) were also the highest grossing movies of the year.
At any rate, here were are. Florence Pugh picks up her first nomination. If you’re just learning her name, remember it – you’ll see her starring with Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow later this year. Robbie picks up her second:the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t allow the same person to be nominated twice in the same category as the British Academy does, or else we might have seen her pick up a second nod for Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood. I’m somewhat annoyed that I have to go see Richard Jewell now, given that Kathy Bates just picked up her fourth nomination for it, but I’m not shocked – Bates is a well loved . Laura Dern picks up her second nod, and is sailing toward a well deserved win.
Best Actor: 3/5
My worst category!
My guess: DiCaprio, Phoenix, Driver, Egerton, Bale
Alternates: Pryce, Banderas
Oscar Nominated: Banderas, DiCaprio, Driver, Phoenix, Pryce
Let’s look back for a second. I felt very solid with DiCaprio (6th nod, no chance at winning) and Phoenix (fourth nod, a virtual lock to win). I felt almost as sure about Driver, not noted that it’s not like the Academy to nominate two younger men in the same year. Egerton has been nominated everywhere else, but with the thinnest resume and the most classical good looks of the two, I’m not shocked that he got the boot. It could also be that Rocketman came too soon upon the heels of Bohemian Rhapsody‘s success, and so doesn’t feel new enough.
As I observed in my prediction post, Oscar tends to let younger men sneak in through biographies – especially if the historical figure has a disability to overcome (Eddie Redmayne, Jamie Foxx). I honestly wondered if “playing gay” would count as a disability in Oscar’s eyes; I’m choosing to hope this snub means we’ve gotten past the point where playing a gay character could sabotage a Hollywood career, and is no longer considered a brave choice that needs rewarding. I’m going to be very curious to see if Egerton continues to stretch his acting muscles in less conventional films, or sticks with his successful commercial career.
Driver picks up his second nomination and first for lead actor. Like his costar Scarlett Johansson, he’s having a pretty great year: Marriage Story and The Rise of Skywalker brought in a combined 9 nominations and nearly 500 million dollars.
I’m kicking myself a little for not going with Banderas and Pryce, because I had a strong feeling about both of them, but the reasons I had them as just outside the circle were valid. It’s always an uphill climb to get a foreign language role nominated, although spaniard Banderas is a long established star in America. Plus, he’s playing a fictionalized version of long time Oscar favorite Pedro Almodovar, and what does AMPAS love more than movies about movie makers? Not much. I’m bemused to see that Oscar voters liked The Two Popes enough to get it two nominations, but not enough to put it in the Best Picture race; similarly, they didn’t nominated Christian Bale for his turn in Ford v. Ferrari, but they did honor the movie. Perhaps that shows how close this all was. At least one thing is clear that wasn’t yesterday: AMPAS didn’t like Dolemite is my Name, not even a little bit.
I’m delighted to see both Banderas and Pryce pick up their first nominations.
Best Actress: 5/5
My Picks: Zellweger, Johansson, Theron, Erivo, Ronan
Oscar Nominated: Zellweger, Johansson, Theron, Erivo, Ronan
Erivo and Johansson are the first timers here, with Theron picking up her third, and Ronan and Zellweger each collecting her fourth. Of all the likely winners, Zellweger is the only one who’d be grabbing a second Oscar; she won the supporting award for Cold Mountain in 2004, the same year that Charlize Theron won lead actress for Monster. It’s interesting to see them part of the same class again.
Erivo is the only acting nominee of color in this year’s slate. I’m frustrated with that – there were so many terrific options – but I’m very glad that at least she received this very well-earned accolade. Like Johansson, Erivo has two nominations, but her second comes for Best Song.
Best Director: 5/5
I Said: Joon-ho, Mendes, Scorsese, Tarantino, Phillips
Oscar Nominated: Joon-ho, Mendes, Scorsese, Tarantino, Phillips
Well, that never happens. They didn’t match up with the DGA, but I managed to call them replacing Taika Waititi (a Maori director from New Zealand) with a white guy. Yay me. Joon-ho and Phillips get their first, Mendes his second, Tarantino his third for directing (his eighth over all, including two others this year for writing and producing). The grand statesman of film gathered up his ninth directing nomination, along with his third as a producer; two writing nods (not for this year) boost his lifetime total to fourteen.
Though the acting categories seem pretty solid, Best Director and Picture remain up in the air. So far both Mendes and Tarantino have picked up directing statuettes. Looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find that part out.
Best Picture: 8/9
My Guesses (if there are only 7, which is unlikely): 1917, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Joker, Parasite, Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit
If There Are Eight: Little Women
If There are Nine: Knives Out
Alternatives (and yes, that means I don’t think there will be ten): Ford V. Ferrari, The Two Popes
Oscar Picked: 1917, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Joker, Parasite, Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Ford v. Ferrari
I’m annoyed by this. Did I let my partiality for Knives Out – the best movie I’ve seen so far this year – color my judgement? Now, I’m sure it was right in the hunt, but it was beaten out by Ford v. Ferrari, a movie that literally put me to sleep. (To be fair, though, I fall asleep during movies that I like, and the rest of my family liked it.) I’m going to be back to discuss this slate in detail, because I’m damned tired of doing this every year and seeing more and more of the same bloody thing. But for now I can say that mostly, this year has delivered what I expected. Not stuff I was necessarily excited about, not what I hoped for, but what I expected. Honestly, the biggest surprise to me in this whole set of nominations is Frozen 2 being left off animated feature, replaced by Golden Globe winner and box office flop The Missing Link and an utterly mysterious french film called I Lost My Body. About a severed hand that gallumphs through the streets of Paris. Right.
This year, man. I just don’t know.
*Edited to say, I have a new favorite story from this year: Michelle Obama was nominated as a producer on the documentary American Factory! Taika Waititi might not have gotten a directing nod but he was nominated as a writer and producer. That’s a few cheerful things, anyway.
**Thanks for the catch, MMGF!