Another Year, Another Set of Busted Oscar Nominations

The Academy doesn't actually like Black Panther. Green Book and A Star is Born are derivative. Emily Blunt gets shut out again. And more on all the snubs and weirdness of this year's Oscar nominations.
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse / Sony Pictures Animation

The end of January is a slow time for movies, so most of what we have to entertain ourselves with is award show nominations. There are some things that are always a safe bet. The Golden Globes will be boozy, the Razzies will remind us of money we wished we hadn’t spent, and the Oscars will have some boring nominees. But no other award show has the Oscar’s reputation for dependability. Going into every Oscar season, we usually expect some of the nominees will be biopics, period pieces, and maybe, if we’re lucky, one movie from a genre that the Academy usually ignores. And guess what? That’s exactly what we’re getting this year.

Black Panther is a Best Picture nominee…

But the Academy doesn’t actually like it. At least that’s sure how it looks from the rest of the nominations. It’s up for Best Picture, some technical awards, a single original song, and then…nada. Not Best Director. Not any of the performances. Not the screenplay, cinematography, or editing. So the Academy thinks it’s one of the best pictures of the year…but doesn’t think any major part of it is worth nominating. Yeah…there’s something there.

It’s exciting to see a balls-to-the-wall action movie on the list, sure. Well-choreographed and engaging action movies deserve consideration; they’re really hard to make. But c’mon Academy! At least pretend the movie was chosen for its quality rather than out of a sense of obligation to avoid another #OscarsSoWhite and also appear hip with what the kids are into these days.

At least with last year’s genre surprise, Get Out, they had the decency to recognize the accomplishments of the director and parts of the cast, and deservedly so. But in Black Panther’s case, nominating the film for Best Picture but then totally ignoring the people who made it is bizarre. In this writer’s opinion, that says a lot. Did the Academy actually like Black Panther? Ahem.

It’s also worth mentioning that Black Panther might not have even been the right superhero movie to nominate, anyway. The bold, arresting, and unbelievably fun Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse shared the same near-universal acclaim that Black Panther did and was staggeringly visually unique. Of course, it was also animated. There hasn’t been an animated Best Picture nominee since 2010 (Toy Story 3), so Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was fighting an even bigger uphill battle than his feline friends. It appears the Academy doesn’t believe an animated movie has been one of the year’s 10 best in the last decade.

A chauffeur and an actor-turned-director walk into bar…

There isn’t a clear Best Picture front-runner. It’s pretty unlikely that Black Panther will win the prize, and Vice is a long shot. Oddsmakers have Roma as most likely to win, but The Favourite, Green Book, and A Star Is Born are all real contenders. Which makes it very strange that Bradley Cooper, who directed A Star Is Born, and Peter Farrelly, who directed Green Book, aren’t being considered for the Best Director prize.

Even weirder: Only two movies in the last 40 years or so have won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. Those movies are Driving Miss Daisy and Argo. Driving Miss Daisy is set in the south and is about a chauffeur and a client overcoming racism and developing a relationship. That’s…that’s Green Book. Meanwhile, Argo featured Ben Affleck directing himself as the lead in a movie that dealt with Hollywood tomfoolery. That’s what Bradley Cooper does in A Star Is Born. Maybe it’s coincidence or maybe these are specific ways to cheat yourself out of a best director nomination.

According to exhaustive research, this is also the first time anyone has felt bad for Bradley Cooper. That guy is just too handsome and talented. While we’re on the topic of attractive, talented people…

Why Doesn’t Emily Blunt have an Oscar Nomination Yet?

Emily Blunt was nominated for a Golden Globe for Lead Actress this year. She was also nominated for two, count ’em two, Screen Actor’s Guild awards, one for leading work and one for supporting work (Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place, respectively). All told she has five Globe nominations, three SAG nominations, five Critics Choice nominations, and two BAFTA nominations. Yet she has never been nominated for an Oscar.

It’s true that some of those other awards feature categories the Oscars do not. It’s still a little insane that she’s been so completely shut out of the show. If the Oscars are a popularity contest is there something we don’t know? Is she just too likable? Are people mad that she and John Krasinski are just too cute of a couple? Is this a middle-school spite vote?

The Rest of the Snubs

And there are plenty…

  • Ethan Hawke for Best Actor in First Reformed
  • John David Washington for Best Actor in BlacKkKlansman
  • Timothée Chalamet for Best Actor in Beautiful Boy
  • No love for Viola Davis in Widows
  • No love for Boy Erased
  • No love for If Beale Street Could Talk
  • No love for Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  • No love for Eighth Grade
  • No love for Burning

…and we’re sure we missed some.

It’s Gonna Be a Yawn Fest

We’ll still tune in and watch to see who wins, obviously. But boy this year’s nominees are a safe, Oscar-bait-y bunch. There are some opportunities for upsets in the technical categories, so there’s that. Also, there isn’t a host yet, so a fun surprise could be in the works. Barring any major shake-ups, though, count on the standard Oscar fare doing the standard Oscar stuff through the night.

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