On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its 2019 nominees, including some historic firsts, several long overdue nods, and plenty of blistering snubs. The Mexico City-set Roma and dark comedy The Favourite are set to lead the race for the little gold statuettes with 10 nominations each; the (currently host-less) Oscar ceremony will be held on Feb. 24.
There is no need to wait until the end of February for all the drama, though — these are the biggest snubs and surprises of the 91st Academy Award nominations.
Where are the year's breakout stars?
Two of the best performances of 2018 came from actresses too young to even legally drink a celebratory glass of champagne, although you wouldn't know it from the Academy's list of Best Actress nominees. While 15-year-old Elsie Fisher previously got a nod at the Golden Globes for her so-awkward-and-relatable-it-hurts portrayal of Kayla in Eighth Grade, she was left off of the extremely competitive Actress in a Leading Role category by Academy voters. Likewise, 20-year-old Helena Howard, who starred in the strange, experimental indie flick Madeline's Madeline, disappointingly went without deserved recognition. Thankfully, both have many, many years to avenge these oversights.
First Man's score misses its landing.
While on paper First Man had looked to be an Oscar frontrunner, the film ultimately received only a lackluster reception from audiences and critics. Where it did still seem sure to receive a nomination was for Justin Hurwitz's haunting lunar score. The music had even won Best Original Score at the Golden Globes, but on Tuesday it failed to get its expected nomination at the Oscars. Ouch.
Academy says no to Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Audience favorite Won't You Be My Neighbor? went unrecognized Tuesday by the Academy, which snubbed the feel-good film in the Documentary Feature category. The movie, about the legacy of Mister Rogers, made an eye-popping $22 million at the box office, earning it the honor of being the highest-grossing biodoc of all time. Only that wasn't enough for voters, who left the film off their ballot. Still, the Documentary Feature category is anything but boring; with Minding the Gap and Hale County This Morning, This Evening earning nominations, it's one of the most competitive categories of the bunch.
Slow-burning Murakami mystery left off Foreign Language list.
Foreign language films had a surprisingly strong showing among the 91st Academy Award's nominees; as The Hollywood Reporter's Rebecca Ford noted on Twitter, "This is the first time that two directors (Roma's Alfonso Cuaron and Cold War's Pawel Pawlikowski) nominated in the foreign language category also received directing nominations." Unfortunately, while Roma and Cold War both made the cut for the foreign language-specific category, the beloved South Korean film Burning — based on a short story by Haruki Murakami — was left off. Still, Burning didn't walk away entirely empty handed; the film earlier made history by being the first South Korean movie to ever make the Academy's Foreign Language shortlist.
Bradley Cooper's directing push flops.
Bradley Cooper made his directorial debut with A Star Is Born, in which he also played the fading country legend Jackson Maine. But as hard as A Star Is Born has been pushed by Academy campaigners, Cooper still failed to earn a directing nod. Instead, he earned individual recognition only as an Actor in a Leading Role. While his film might still be sitting pretty among the Best Picture nominees, having Cooper's name left off the Best Director list has got to hurt.
Women in film get snubbed. Again.
The Academy Awards are hardly a bastion of progressive voting — still to this day, only one woman has won the directing award — but 2019 was particularly grim for women across the board. The Academy entirely shut out women directors — including Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and Chloé Zhao (The Rider), who made two of 2018's best films. Additionally, no women were nominated for cinematography or editing, and none of the Best Picture films were directed by a woman. Again, as always: Do better, Academy. Do better.
Roma's brilliant second fiddle earns a nod.
Roma has long been an Oscar frontrunner, and, as was expected, it was nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Cinematographer on Tuesday, with even lead actress Yalitza Aparicio notching a nomination. Less expected, though, was actress Marina de Tavira's nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role, over her subtle portrayal of Roma's matriarch in crisis. Competing alongside Amy Adams (Vice), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), de Tavira is a bit of a dark horse here — but one who fully deserves her spot.
Is Emma Stone really a supporting actress?
There is nothing more frustrating than nominees plopped in categories that don't make any sense — look no further than Green Book winning Best Musical or Comedy and Bohemian Rhapsody winning Best Drama at the Golden Globes. Huh? This year's head-scratcher at the Oscars is Emma Stone's designation as a "supporting" actress for her role in The Favourite, which seemed at least as much a lead role as her co-star Olivia Colman's part. Colman, though, earned the coveted Lead Actress nomination while Stone was only nominated alongside Rachel Weisz in the Supporting category. Just wrong!
Terence Blanchard gets his due.
Musician Terence Blanchard, a longtime collaborator with director Spike Lee, received his very first Original Score nomination for his work on BlacKkKlansman on Tuesday. After contributing fantastic scores to dozens of films since 1991, the nod is a long time coming; it's rewarding to at last see Blanchard have a chance to compete for the golden statuette.
Bohemian Rhapsody had editing. That doesn't mean it was the best editing.
Sometimes Oscar nominees are a surprise because they are great under-the-radar works that earns unexpected mainstream recognition. Other times they're surprises because you can't, for the life of you, figure out how they got a nomination in the first place. The latter case is true of Bohemian Rhapsody, which earned a befuddling nod for film editing, despite editing being one of the major problems with the film. On the other hand, old wisdom holds that destined Best Picture winners usually appear in the Best Editing category, meaning Bohemian has a potential leg-up against films like Roma and A Star Is Born, which were ultimately snubbed here.
At long last, Spike Lee earns a directing nomination.
With nearly 40 films under his belt, director Spike Lee earned his very first Best Director nod for 2018's BlacKkKlansman. This is a long, long overdue nomination — Lee has made a number of critically-acclaimed films, including 1989's Do the Right Thing — so it's thrilling to at last see his name in a category where it has belonged for decades.
"When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" had voters singing along
There is no doubt about it: "Shallow" from A Star Is Born is going to win Best Original Song. Still, this category did manage its own little surprise on Tuesday in the form of a nomination for "When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," a goofy little track sung by Willie Watson and Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Yippee-ki-yi-yay, indeed.
A superhero film could potentially be 2019's Best Picture winner.
In a historic first, Marvel earned its only Best Picture nomination to date with Black Panther. The film scored seven nominations in total, loaning further legitimacy to the superhero genre, which has been long shut out of the Academy's top award. And while there is no "popular film" category at the Academy Awards (yet), Black Panther has now proven that it did more than just earn $1.3 billion worldwide — it was also a technically-accomplished piece of art, with The Week's Lili Loofbourrow writing in her review that "cinematically, it feels like [director Ryan] Coogler is sampling his actors' other work and incorporating it into an all-black universe." A deserving Best Picture contender in every regard ... even despite its popularity.