E: So, okay. I’m mostly pretty happy with this, and I’m definitely happy with how I did, because it’s a super weird year of obscure streaming movies. It’s just super weird to be looking at the Oscars at in a year where no one can go to the movie theater. But hey, here we are. Let’s dive in.
Best Actor: 5/5
My best category!
I said: Ahmed, Boseman, Hopkins, Oldman, Yeun
Oscar Nominated: Ahmed, Boseman, Hopkins, Oldman, Yeun
Usually get I more than one category totally right, but I’ll settle for doing it once this year. Riz Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman and Steven Yeun all pick up their first nomination. (It’s six for Hopkins, three for Oldman.) You may have read that Ahmed is the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor, and Yeun, the first Asian-American. The latter stat is pretty appalling when you think about it, and says something we ought to be paying attention to about our ability to see Asians as leading men in something other than karate movies.
Best Actress: 4/5
My Guess: Adams, Davis, Kirby, McDormand, Mulligan
Oscar Picked: Davis, Day, Kirby, McDormand, Mulligan
This was me second guessing myself. I actually had Day down, and then changed my mind. I thought perhaps that her Golden Globe win came too late, considering that she wasn’t nominated by most other groups, but it does seem to have helped get her movie seen and put her name out there. I’m thrilled for her. I am not thrilled that I have to watch Pieces of a Woman, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Andra Day and Vanessa Kirby both pick up their first nominations. This is 6 for McDormand, 4 for Davis (how is it only 4?) and 2 for Mulligan. I wish we could turn back time and have McDormand win for this movie rather than the vastly inferior Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, but I suppose if I really think about it, there are some bigger things I’d want to change first if I had access to a time machine.
Best Supporting Actor: 4/5
My guess: Baron Cohen, Boseman, Kaluuya, Odom, Raci
Oscar Nominated: Baron Cohen, Kaluuya, Odom, Raci, Stanfield
I have to admit, if you read yesterday’s post you’ll see LaKeith Stanfield (who today received his first Oscar nomination) wasn’t even on my radar. I actually thought his role in Judas and the Black Messiah was being campaigned in lead. You may remember I said that I considered Kaluuya’s role a co-lead rather than supporting, and I’m genuinely pleased that the Academy decided to honor both the stars of this excellent film. I recommend it if you – as is likely – haven’t seen it. It’s just within the last few years I’ve begun to learn about the Black Panthers and how important it is to see their complicated truth beyond the common misconceptions. It’s an excellent companion piece to Baron Cohen’s The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Otherwise we have, let’s see, first acting nominations for Baron Cohen, Odom and Raci. At two nods Kaluuya is the veteran of the group. I’m particularly pleased that I called Raci, who wasn’t a given at all but delivered a wonderful performance. His movie – Sound of Metal – is on Amazon Prime, and I definitely recommend it. I am a little bit melancholy that Boseman didn’t pick up a second nomination here, given that he won’t have a chance at any more. It’s so depressing, thinking about him being gone – just from the standpoint of what the Marvel movie Black Panther meant in American culture, it’s a huge loss.
Best Supporting Actres: 4/5
I Guessed: Bakalova, Colman, Foster, Seyfriend, Youn
Oscar Nominated: Bakalova, Close, Colman, Seyfriend, Youn
My gut feeling about The Mauritanian turned out to be indigestion, I guess. I’m actually pretty chuffed I got this so close. Poor Glenn Close – is it going to be a 8th chance to lose? Will she really watch the girl from Borat 2 take a statuette instead of her, or can she pull of a socially distanced campaign to get the Oscar she’s been in the running for off and on since (I kid you not) The World According to Garp in 1983? As with Best Actress, there’s no point where these women will be running against each other for anything, so we really won’t know for sure until Oscar night.
Bakalova, Seyfried and Youn all received their first nomination today: Colman gets her second.
Quick word about all the acting nominees: 9 out of 20 are people of color according to the New York Times reckoning, which is pretty great. (That counting includes Ahmed as a person of color, in case you’re counting.). 12 are nominated for the first time.
Best Director: 4/5
My Guess: Chung, Fennell, Fincher, Sorkin and Zhao
Oscar Choose: Chung, Fennell, Fincher, Vinterberg and Zhao
Those lousy rats. I said, didn’t I, that they loved obscurity. That they loved to be mavericks. I just knew they’d do something completely stupid to a group of very deserving, already obscure directors. They couldn’t just go along with the Golden Globes or the Director’s Guild, oh no. They had to find someone EVEN MORE OBSCURE. They had to sub out Aaron Sorkin, who isn’t even famous as a director, who made the second most acclaimed movie of the year, for Thomas Vinterberg, who made a movie I’d only ever even heard of when he got nominated for the BAFTAs. Maybe because it’s in Danish. Maybe because it’s completely obscure in a year of overwhelming obscurity.
Ugh. I can’t even. I’m sure it’s a very fine movie, but this is ridiculous.
I mean, okay. They did nominate two women, which is a very exciting first. And one of them is a woman of color, which is another very exciting first. Not as exciting as the Golden Globes picking three women, two of whom were women of color (Regina King, I wanted this for you so badly!), but still, exciting. I’m thrilled for Chloe Zhao and for so many little girls out there who might be seeing more of a space for themselves behind the camera. (Speaking of which, Chloe Zhao just became the woman with the most nominations in one year – for producing, writing and editing as well as directing. Brilliant!) Let’s hope this really opens doors for the college students (women and people of color) training as film directors now. Let’s hope this is a trend that continues when theaters reopen and bigger budget movies re-enter (hopefully) the 2022 Oscar race.
Best Picture: 6/8
My guess if there are 8: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, Promising Young Woman, The Father, The Trial of the Chicago 7
If there are 9: Da 5 Bloods
Spoilers: The Mauritanian (I just have a feeling about it) , Sound of Metal
Oscar Nominated: Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Father, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Um, wow. We are looking at some big, big snubs of Black films that were expected to make this list – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and One Night in Miami. Poor Regina King, once again! I’m really surprised – really, really surprised. I guess that their exclusion at the Golden Globes and the crazy BAFTAs wasn’t a fluke after all. I mentioned when I talked about Chadwick Boseman that I found Ma Rainey very stage-y, and that I generally don’t love August Wilson on screen. I enjoyed One Night in Miami much more, but it too had a stage play quality to it, and the Academy (to give it the best interpretation possible) chose to nominate more realistic films.
Much less surprised that Da 5 Bloods didn’t make the cut, but still – it’s certainly not stage-y, but it’s also hyper-real and a bit fantastical, in the way Tarantino films are, full of arterial spray and outsized everything. It seems like that’s just not the vibe of this year. In that light, it even makes sense of the Aaron Sorkin snub, since his characters are perpetually smarter, more articulate and more interesting than normal people. There is Judas and the Black Messiah, which I’m happy to see (and is the first Best Picture nominee with an all Black producing team), and I’m a big fan of Sound of Metal, (both of which fall into the realistic category) but this is definitely a change up and I’m sure a very lot will be said about it. And we all know I was wrong about The Mauritanian! Oh well.
I’m sure I will have more thoughts soon, but that’s it for now.