How lucky comic book fans are to be alive right now: This morning, Black Panther made history as the first Marvel Studios movie — and the first-ever superhero movie — to receive Hollywood’s most prestigious prize: a Best Picture nomination. That milestone defined the 2019 Oscar nominations, but there are plenty of pleasant surprises, and high-profile snubs, that will be sparking conversations in the run-up to the Feb. 24 telecast. Here’s our exhaustive recap of what’s in … and what’s out. — Ethan Alter and Gwynne Watkins
MILESTONE: Black Panther, Best Picture
Wakanda’s champion accomplished what Gotham’s Dark Knight couldn’t, breaking through the Best Picture barrier that has consistently blocked comic book cinema. And while we wish that more of Panther‘s crew had reaped the rewards of the film’s extraordinary success — looking at you, Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan — it’s a thrill to see Black Panther perched at the top of the eight-movie Best Picture list where it belongs.
SNUB: Crazy Rich Asians
One of the year’s biggest and most acclaimed box-office hits, Crazy Rich Asians didn’t get a single nomination. The most egregious omissions: Best Adapted Screenplay (it seemed like a shoo-in), and Michelle Yeoh for Best Supporting Actress. (At least she got to keep the ring.)
SNUB: Bradley Cooper, Best Director
A Star Is Born came through with seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Lady Gaga, Best Supporting Actor for Sam Elliott and Best Original Song for “Shallow.” Bradley Cooper, who was nominated for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, should be very pleased. But we’re sure he’s a little bummed about being passed over for Best Director, an award for which the first-time filmmaker was in serious contention.
SURPRISE: Green Book
Green Book‘s multiple nominations aren’t an enormous shock, considering that it’s been a strong awards season player in both the various guild awards and the Golden Globes. But for a moment there, it looked as if a series of high-profile errors might drive voters away. In addition to co-writer Nick Vallelonga’s resurfaced anti-Muslim tweets, its star Viggo Mortensen unwisely used the “N-word” in a public Q&A, and director Peter Farrelly’s past on-set conduct returned to the headlines. In the end, Green Book powered through the controversy, picking up nominations for Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor and Picture.
SNUB: Ethan Hawke, Best Actor
Four-time Oscar nominee Hawke awed critics with his performance as a pastor having a secret crisis of faith in First Reformed. That film opened in May, and its Oscar buzz had quieted by the time awards season kicked into high gear, making Hawke a dark horse in his category. Nevertheless, his performance was one of the year’s most applauded, and fans (who sent Hawke’s name trending on Twitter after the announcement) are justifiably sad that he won’t get his shot at a win this year.
It’s no secret that the world’s most popular streaming service has been looking to make its mark on the Oscars. And with a grand total of 13 nominations — 10 of which belong to Roma — Netflix is officially a major awards player alongside the major studios. While it remains to be seen whether voters are ready to welcome streaming movies into the fold (Steven Spielberg, for one, will probably be casting his vote elsewhere), it’s only a matter of time until the Academy embraces the adage, “It’s not TV … it’s Netflix.”
SNUB: Mr. Rogers
The movie that made everybody happy, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was the highest-grossing doc of the year. Since the Academy has often had a soft spot for feel-good documentaries (i.e., winners like 20 Feet From Stardom, Undefeated and March of the Penguins), the acclaimed film about Fred Rogers’s inspiring life and work seemed like a no-brainer nominee. But as far as the Oscars go, this was not Mr. Rogers’s year. (If he were still alive, we’re sure he’d have a song to make director Morgan Neville feel better.)
SURPRISE: Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Best Documentary Feature
In a big box-office year for documentaries, one of the smallest nonfiction films still managed to score a surprise nomination. RaMell Ross’s rapturously reviewed film may not have a major public figure like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Fred Rogers as its central subject, but it does offer one of the most nuanced and emotional depictions of contemporary African-American life in the Deep South.
MILESTONE: Spike Lee
The BlacKkKlansman director is a living legend who had famously never been nominated for Best Director or Best Picture — until now. BlacKkKlansman‘s nods might almost make up for the notorious omission of Lee’s 1989 classic Do the Right Thing in both categories. And if Lee wins, it will be the first competitive Oscar under his belt.
SNUB: Emily Blunt, Best Actress
What’s it going to take to get an Oscar nomination for Emily Blunt? The consistently terrific actress pulled out all the stops for Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns, singing, dancing and flying her way into awards season. While that role won Julie Andrews an Oscar in 1965, Blunt didn’t receive a nod — nor did she get one for her polar-opposite performance in the thriller A Quiet Place, which previously netted her a SAG Award nomination. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, even with a spoonful of sugar.
SURPRISE: Marina de Tavira, Best Supporting Actress
A star was born for real in the shape of teacher-turned-Oscar-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio, who plays a lightly fictionalized version of Alfonso Cuarón’s real-life nanny in Roma. The filmmaker continued the self-autobiography by casting de Tavira as an incarnation of his mother, a role that nabbed one of Mexico’s premiere stage-and-screen actresses her very first Oscar nomination. Clearly, it pays to play members of Cuarón‘s extended family.
SNUB: First Man, Best Picture
Except for the inclusion of Ryan Gosling, Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land couldn’t have been more different: a tense, painstakingly accurate drama about Neil Armstrong and the moon landing. To name-check Chazelle’s Oscar-nominated debut feature, maybe the transition gave the Academy whiplash. First Man is the first of the director’s three films to lose out on a Best Picture nomination, and while it received four well-deserved nominations in the technical categories, its stars, Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, were overlooked, too.
MILESTONE: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Best Animated Feature
Black Panther isn’t the only comic book movie making Oscar history this year: The rapturously reviewed Into the Spider-Verse is the first animated movie based on a pre-existing superhero to swing to a major nomination. And unlike T’Challa, Miles Morales is the clear frontrunner in his category. Here’s hoping he stays ahead of The Incredibles clan, who won this statue back in 2005, and are itching for a repeat victory.
SNUB: If Beale Street Could Talk, Best Picture
Director Barry Jenkins’s follow-up to Moonlight was considered a Best Picture frontrunner from the day it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Despite being timely and gorgeously made, the romantic drama hasn’t kept up the momentum of its predecessor, and was passed over for Best Picture (as well as Best Director, Best Actress for breakout star Kiki Layne and Best Actor for Stephan James). That said, it wasn’t forgotten entirely: The film received nominations for Original Score and Adapted Screenplay, and its nominated star, Regina King, is considered a frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress.
SURPRISE: Sam Elliott, Best Supporting Actor
Despite being beloved both within — and outside — Hollywood for his serious dramatic skills, unmistakable baritone voice and enviably lush mustache, Elliott has somehow never received an Oscar nomination. That changes now. Passed over by the Golden Globes, the veteran actor’s presence among the Supporting Actor nominees for his small, but memorable role in A Star Is Born was one of Oscar morning’s happiest surprises. We’re prepared to sing his praises up until Oscar night.
SNUB: Nicole Kidman, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress
Perhaps she canceled herself out? Kidman has been working the red carpet this year for two powerhouse performances: as the conflicted Southern pastor’s wife who tries to help her gay son in Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, and as a hard-nosed detective with a vendetta in Karyn Kusama’s noir thriller Destroyer. The second film in particular never got the attention it deserved, as further evidenced by the snub of Academy favorite Kidman (who has one win and three prior nominations under her belt).
SURPRISE: Christopher Robin, Best Visual Effects
Disney’s live-action update of its vintage Winnie the Pooh cartoons didn’t exactly stir the magic in moviegoers’ hearts. At the same time, those who did seek it out were thankful that the CGI-version of everyone’s favorite silly old bear wasn’t the stuff of nightmares. In fact, the character animation is by far the film’s strongest selling point, taking advantage of digital technology without sacrificing the lovingly handmade appearance of Pooh, Piglet and Tigger. The film made the cut ahead of blockbuster genre films like Aquaman and Black Panther.
SNUB: Dolly Parton, Best Original Song
The Netflix original comedy Dumplin’ is about a plus-size teenage girl (Danielle Macdonald) who subversively enters a local beauty pageant, inspired by her the music of her heroine Dolly Parton. Sure enough, the 73-year-old legend contributed a new song to the film: “Girl in the Movies,” co-written with Linda Perry. Surprisingly, Parton (previously nominated for “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica and the title song from 9 to 5) was overlooked in this year’s Best Original Song category.
SURPRISE: Sam Rockwell, Best Supporting Actor
Rockwell unexpectedly joins the back-to-back nominees club, picking up a nomination for his supporting turn as Vice‘s dim-bulb version of George W. Bush, one year after taking that exact statue home for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He’s not the only previous winner returning for more: Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali is poised to deliver another memorable acceptance two years after his history-making Moonlight victory.
SNUB: Steve Carell, Best Supporting Actor
Though Carell had two much bigger roles in 2018 (in Beautiful Boy and Welcome to Marwen), it was his deliciously devious performance as Donald Rumsfeld in Vice that generated the most attention. The comedian turned actor, nominated previously for his humorless performance in Foxcatcher, could easily have attained another nod — but like Rumsfeld, he ended up in Cheney and Dubya’s shadows.
SNUB: Eighth Grade
A favorite for Best Original Screenplay, Bo Burnham’s micro-budget teen drama was also a dark-horse contender for Best Actress (for 15-year-old star Elsie Fisher) and even generated some Best Picture buzz. Sadly, Eighth Grade received no love from the Academy.
SURPRISE: Pawel Pawlikowski, Best Director
Bradley Cooper’s absence from the Best Director category is truly the snub heard ’round the world. But his loss is Pawlikowski’s gain; the Polish auteur — who previously won a Best Foreign-Language statue for his 2013 film, Ida — upended all advance predictions, nabbing the fifth slot for his achingly beautiful black-and-white period romance Cold War. It’s worth noting that, in its own way, Cold War is as much a musical as A Star Is Born, employing a carefully curated tracklist of songs to complement and deepen its portrait of a continent, and a couple, in crisis.
SNUB: Timothée Chalamet and Lucas Hedges, Best Supporting Actor
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2018 and 2017, respectively, these young actors each gave knockout performances this year. Hedges actually gave two, as the recovering drug-addict son of Julia Roberts in Ben Is Back and the gay son of a Baptist preacher who sends him to conversion therapy in Boy Erased. Chalamet has garnered even more attention this awards season, for his role as a teenager battling addiction over several years in Beautiful Boy. Neither managed to score a nomination this year — but their future at the Oscars is still looking bright.
SURPRISE: Border, Best Makeup and Hair
Not all trolls sing like Justin Timberlake. This Swedish-language oddity revolves around a border agent who discovers that she’s descended from her country’s secret troll community. Released by Neon in the United States, the film did only modest business, but won accolades for its timely social commentary and uncomfortably realistic troll transformations. Expect Border‘s Oscar nomination to elevate it to full-blown “cult movie” status.
SNUB: John David Washington, Best Actor
The BlacKkKlansman star was one of the year’s biggest breakouts, racking up awards for his alternately hilarious and wrenching performance as a 1970s police detective who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. It’s a shocker that he was passed over for a Best Actor nod — but we’re sure his father, Denzel Washington (who famously lost the Oscar for several iconic roles, including the lead in Malcolm X), prepared him for the roller coaster that is awards season.
SNUB: Burning, Best Foreign-Language Film
Despite being the home of some of the world’s most inventive filmmakers, South Korea hasn’t secured a nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film since 1962. Lee Chang-dong’s film Burning, with its festival accolades and 95 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, seemed likely to change that. Unfortunately for Korean cinema fans, the dramatic thriller about a young man (Yoo Ah-in) drawn into a terrible mystery by a childhood friend (Jeon Jong-seo) and a wealthy stranger (Steven Yeun), was not selected.
SURPRISE: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Those dadgum Coen boys overcame mixed reviews and the Academy’s equally mixed feelings about Netflix to score multiple nominations for their darkly comic Western anthology. In addition to Best Adapted Screenplay (two out of the six tales are loosely based on stories published by Jack London and Stewart Edward White), Buster Scruggs also appears in the Best Costume Design and Best Original Song categories. Lady Gaga had better watch her back, ’cause Buster’s heading for the deep end.
The 91st Annual Academy Awards air Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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