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Oscar Noms and Surprises

Hope Madden Hope Madden Oscar Noms and Surprises
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by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Any year as strong as 2019 is going to see its share of snubs in the Oscar race because there are just too damn many worthy films and performances. It’s a blessing, really. But we will complain anyway.

First, though, we’ll celebrate Scarlet Johansson for finally getting a nomination, and then getting a second. She nabbed a nom in both lead and supporting categories this year. Antonio Banderas and Cynthia Erivo nab their first Oscar nominations—Banderas waited just a tad longer for the recognition, but both are well-deserved. Also thrilled to see Parasite clean up, and JoJo Rabbit and 1917 collecting so much love.

But where was Uncut Gems? Not a peep for Adam Sandler’s career-turning performance or for the Safdie Brothers writing, direction or film. Same for Awkwafina and writer/director Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, both films that deserved a spot.

The most obvious snubs belong to Jennifer Lopez, whose brilliant turn in Hustlers was forgotten, Frozen 2, which didn’t garner an animation nomination (although we’re OK with that), and Apollo 11, which went unnoticed in the documentary category.

Here’s what we did get.

Best Film

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite


Knives Out struck us as a clear contender for Best Picture. It would be great to fill the list out to its full capacity of 10, including Knives Out and either The Farewell or Uncut Gems.

Best Director

  • Martin Scorsese for The Irishman
  • Todd Philips for Joker
  • Sam Mendes for 1917
  • Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Bong Joon Ho for Parasite


Greta Gerwig needed to be here for Little Women, not just because this is once again the All Male Olympics, but because she deserves to be here. We’d give her Phillips’ spot.

Best Performance by a Lead Actress

  • Cynthia Erivo for Harriet
  • Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan for Little Women
  • Charlize Theron for Bombshell
  • Renee Zellweger for Judy


Awkwafina, who won the Golden Globe and showed remarkable skill, vulnerability and range in The Farewell deserved a slot as did Lupita Nyong’o for Us. We’d have put them in over Theron and Erivo. It would not have made us unhappy to see Tessa Thompson or Elisabeth Moss make the list for Little Woods and Her Smell, respectively, but that would have been asking a lot.

Best Performance by a Lead Actor

  • Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Adam Driver for Marriage Story
  • Joaquin Phoenix for Joker
  • Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes


Hooray for Antonio Banderas. It’s about damn time.

I don’t know that we’re surprised the Academy voters didn’t go with Adam Sandler, but we’re definitely disappointed. He should have had Pryce’s spot. It’s a tough, stacked year for lead actor, which is why glorious work by Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Luce) went unnoticed. More surprising are snubs for Taron Edgerton (Rocketman) and Christian Bale (Ford v. Ferrari), but again, where would you put them?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes
  • Al Pacino for The Irishman
  • Joe Pesci for The Irishman
  • Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


Who are those guys? Never heard of them.

If we had our way, Song Kang Ho’s incandescent turn as patriarch in Parasite would have edged out Hopkins, but the biggest let down is Willem Dafoe, whose insane wickie in The Lighthouse deserved a spot.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell
  • Laura Dern in Marriage Story
  • Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit
  • Florence Pugh in Little Women
  • Margot Robbie in Bombshell


If you’d asked us ten years ago whether we would ever utter the line, “Jennifer Lopez deserves the Oscar nomination that went to Kathy Bates,” we would have assumed you were high. But there you have it. Or maybe Robbie took J Lo’s place, we don’t know. They were all good, but Lopez was better.

Best Screenplay, Adapted

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • The Two Popes


That’s an exciting category.

Best Screenplay, Original

  • Knives Out
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite


Another great category, and one that’s hard to argue. The Farewell deserved a spot as did Uncut Gems, but we don’t know where we would have put them.

Best Documentary

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland


No Apollo 11? We’d have given the damn Oscar to that breathtaking piece of history, and here it isn’t even nominated. It was a great year for docs, though, and here’s proof. 

Best Animated Film

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4


Lots. I Lost My Body might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but we thought it might crack the list. Hell, Missing Link might surprise some folks, even with the Golden Globe win. But Klaus is certainly a film that few expected to see named on this list. What did we expect? Frozen 2, although if we’re honest, we’re pleased as punch to see this list. (As long as TS4 wins.)

Best International Feature Film

  • Corpus Cristi
  • Honeyland
  • Les Miserables
  • Pain and Glory
  • Parasite


Great to see the  brilliant Honeyland draw noms in both International Picture and Documentary, but where the hell is Portrait of a Lady on Fire?

Best Cinematography

  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • The Lighthouse
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a time in Hollywood


All deserving. We are just grateful they recognized the glorious cinematography in The Lighthouse.

Best Score

  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage story
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


No Us? We’d put Michael Abels score in Skywalker’s place, but the rest sound fine to us.

Best Original Song

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Toy Story 4) — Randy Newman         
  • ″(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Rocketman) — Elton John & Bernie Taupin    
  • “I’m Standing With You” (Breakthrough) — Diane Warren                       
  • “Into the Unknown” (Frozen 2) — Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez   
  • “Stand Up” (Harriet) — Joshuah Brian Campbell & Cynthia Erivo


“Glasgow” from Wild Rose would have been a nice inclusion, but everyone here is battling for second place after Rocketman.

The 92 annual Academy Awards will be held Sunday, February 9, and air live on ABC.

Read more from Hope and George at MADDWOLF and listen to their weekly movie review podcast, THE SCREENING ROOM.

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