The 91st Academy Awards: Comments and Concerns

It has been an absolutely astonishing year for the cinema. But for as amazing a year as 2018 had been, we’re also left with facing one of the most insulting awards seasons to have come by in recent memory. You’d think that given last year’s set of nominees they actually would have been growing progressively better, especially having given a film like Moonlight the top honour for the 2016 ceremony (and a well-deserved one at that), but after the Golden Globes came by, I was already worried that we’d already be in store for one of the absolute worst in recent memory. To think that the Oscars would already have gone far beyond that “popular film” award in order to try and raise their viewership, as if the ceremonies themselves haven’t already been stale enough (i.e. overlong montages praising the industry and shallow activism that amounts to nothing), who knew that we’d be in store for one that was so out of touch – particularly in last year’s amazingly bad timing (with it being only barely ahead of the Olympics rather than in February like they usually were)? As a supposed celebration for the cinema comes by within the year, there are many things here to be concerned about.

Best Supporting Actress

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  • Amy Adams in Vice
  • Marina de Tavira in Roma
  • (Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Emma Stone in The Favourite
  • Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

I’m a bit stunned by Marina de Tavira’s nomination in this category – not to say that it’s an undeserved one, but it’s one I didn’t count on. But as much as I love Amy Adams, I don’t think I’d really want to see her winning for playing the wife of Dick Cheney of all people. So my vote obviously goes to Regina King.

Notable snubs: Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez (both for Widows), Claire Foy (First Man), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians), Thomasin Mckenzie (Leave No Trace)

Best Costume Design

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  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • Black Panther
  • (The Favourite)
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Mary Queen of Scots

I can’t really comment on this category but I must say I’ll be surprised if anything other than The Favourite wins. And it deserves the win.

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

  • Black Panther
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • First Man
  • A Quiet Place (Editing)
  • A Star is Born (Mixing)
  • Roma

I mean, it was always going to be the loudest film that wins the sound awards either way. But for the beach sequence alone, I think that alone warrants Roma the wins in this category.

Best Original Score

  • Black Panther, Ludwig Göransson
  • BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
  • (If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell)
  • Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
  • Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman

Pretty weak category if I’m being honest, but I do love that Nicholas Britell got another one for working with Barry Jenkins. But how the hell do you listen to the theremin from First Man and leave that out of the race? I don’t understand that at all.

Notable snubs: Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Best Film Editing

  • BlacKkKlansman
  • (Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Vice

I didn’t know that Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book had editors. But nothing for Widows in spite of how phenomenally put together that opening sequence was? I don’t understand it.

Notable snubs: Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Supporting Actor

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  • (Mahershala Ali in Green Book)
  • Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman
  • Sam Elliott in A Star is Born
  • Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Sam Rockwell in Vice

Not the first year in which Sam Rockwell is an Oscar nominee for playing a racist. But I expected the turnout this year to be exactly like this – and it’s a pretty boring slate with a few standouts.

Notable snubs: Daniel Kaluuya (Widows), Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite), Steven Yeun (Burning), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Best Documentary Feature

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  • (Free Solo)
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • Of Fathers and Sons
  • RBG

Unfortunately I’ve only seen one of these nominees so I can’t offer much to say here, but I must admit that this was a category that really surprised me especially with the sort of films that I expected to come up this year.

Notable snubs: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?Shirkers

Best Production Design

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  • Black Panther
  • The Favourite
  • First Man
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • (Roma)

This is a pretty interesting category in my eyes at least primarily because of how many good-looking films came out this year. And I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t have any major complaints regarding any of these nominees.

Best Cinematography

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  • Łukasz Żahl, Cold War
  • Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel, Never Look Away
  • (Alfonso Cuarón, Roma)
  • Matthew Libatique, A Star is Born

Adding more to the “good-looking films” comment regarding Best Production Design, this is another category that I’m actually pretty amazed with. Cold War getting into the cinematography race is a really nice surprise, I must admit.

Notable snubs: Sean Bobbitt (Widows), James Laxton (If Beale Street Could Talk)

Best Visual Effects

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  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Christopher Robin
  • (First Man)
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

Now to go back to my “good-looking films” comment, suddenly it’s all gone down over here. The visual effects category is mostly rather ugly. Solo is probably the worst offender.

Notable snubs: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Border
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • (Vice)

I don’t think I really have much to say about this category other than… Yay, for making Christian Bale look exactly like one of the most despicable people ever to have any position in the White House?

Best Animated Feature

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  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • (Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse)

If Disney wins this again, I swear I’ll lose it. If Spider-Man wins though, I feel like that’d be a truly perfect testament to the hard work that goes into the field of animation. And it’s my preferred superhero film for a Best Picture nomination this year.

Best Original Song

I figured that this was going to turn out this way. But “Shallow” is a pretty amazing song, and it also feels nice to say that Kendrick Lamar is an Oscar nominee.

Notable snubs: “Wrapped Up” from Vox Lux

Best Foreign Language Film

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  • Capernaum from Lebanon
  • Cold War from Poland
  • Never Look Away from Germany
  • (Roma from Mexico)
  • Shoplifters from Japan

I’m still mad about one particular snub here. But having seen most of the nominees here, I’m fine with the good majority of these. Also, would it really be any surprising that Roma wins for this category?

Notable snubs: Burning from South Korea

Best Adapted Screenplay

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  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs based on their stories
  • (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman from the memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth)
  • Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty for Can You Ever Forgive Me? from the memoir by Lee Israel
  • Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk from the novel by James Baldwin
  • Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters for A Star is Born from the 1937 and 1954 films

For a minute, I didn’t realize that Buster Scruggs was eligible for Best Adapted Screenplay – so seeing it in here is a pretty nice surprise. Other than that, pretty solid picks even though I’m not fine with a certain snub.

Notable snubs: Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen for Widows from the miniseries by Lynda La Plante, Lee Chang-dong and Oh Jung-mi for Burning from the short story Barn Burning by Haruki Murakami, Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here from the novel by Jonathan Ames, Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for Leave No Trace from My Abandonment by Peter Rock, Josh Singer for First Man from the memoir by James R. Hansen

Best Original Screenplay

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

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m a little surprised with all the love that Vice has been receiving mostly because of how mixed the reviews have been. Obviously, I was a big fan, but I can’t say it’s something I’m totally on board with especially at the expense of other potentially better films that could easily fit too. Nice to see Paul Schrader finally got the awards season love that he deserved. I just know I’ll lose it if Green Book wins here.

Notable snubs: Ari Aster for Hereditary, Boots Riley for Sorry to Bother You, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casa for Blindspotting, Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade

Best Actor in a Leading Role

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  • Christian Bale in Vice
  • Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born
  • Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate
  • (Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • Viggo Mortensen in Green Book

This is a category that doesn’t really surprise me knowing exactly what the Oscars always go for every time. Or maybe I’m just so tired because of awards season again. Anyways, I’d be rooting for Bradley Cooper to win in this category since he was truly my favourite of this bunch. But I didn’t think I’d be put in a position where I’d prefer for Dick Cheney to win over Freddie Mercury. BLEGH.

Notable snubs: John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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  • Yalitza Aparicio in Roma
  • (Glenn Close in The Wife)
  • Olivia Colman in The Favourite
  • Lady Gaga in A Star is Born
  • Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

I must admit, it’s actually quite nice to see that Yalitza Aparicio is getting so much love this awards season. And she absolutely deserves her nomination. And it’s a bit nice to see Melissa McCarthy coming back up after she got a Razzie nomination in the same year.

Notable snubs: Viola Davis (Widows), KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk), Joanna Kulig (Cold War), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)

Best Director

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  • Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman
  • Paweł Pawlikowski for Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite
  • (Alfonso Cuarón for Roma)
  • Adam McKay for Vice

I must admit, this is the category that actually surprised me the most this year. A few expected picks, but I’m glad to see that Peter Farrelly isn’t in here. Aside from the love for foreign language films with Roma, Paweł Pawlikowski’s nomination in this category is actually a really nice surprise. I’m also pretty glad to see Yorgos Lanthimos is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. Also, about time Spike Lee got the game.

Notable snubs: Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), Steve McQueen (Widows), Paul Schrader (First Reformed)

Best Picture

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  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • (Roma)
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice

Okay, this is the one category that disappointed me the most. Pardon my language, but the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody is a Best Picture nominee, especially after the talk we’ve had about the impact of the #MeToo movement last year, is a complete fucking joke. The one thing that I simply can’t wait for this year is the notion that Bryan Singer’s long history of pedophilia will make him one huge elephant in the room (you can look at his Wikipedia page to find a section dedicated to his sexual abuse cases) at the expense of many other films that deserved the spot. Because even if Singer wasn’t the director, it’s still a terrible film all around. And the most upsetting snub of them all? Widows was expected, but If Beale Street Could Talk especially stings right after both of their directors had previously just won Best Picture. Also, why not nominate Cold War here too if you gave Pawlikowski a Best Director nomination to fill up that ninth slot? Or even replace Bohemian Rhapsody with a good film? I can just say I’ll be rooting for The Favourite.

Notable snubs: Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man, Cold WarFirst Reformed


So that’s all I can really say. It’s amazing how one of the best years for film in recent memory completely gets broken up by one of the most boring awards seasons of note. I’m debating watching it again but after how much we were screwed over by a “Best Popular Film” category, I don’t even know.

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One thought on “The 91st Academy Awards: Comments and Concerns

  1. The Oscar race is increasingly irrelevant, really, and characterised by who shouts the loudest or who has the biggest balls (metaphorically or not). These noms are a mixed bag and I am surprised that Widows has been completely ignored.

    Like

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