Awards Season Movies

A Star is Born’s Revived Best Picture Chances (and Other 2019 Oscar Nominations Takeaways)

The Academy just extended Bradley Cooper a backhanded olive branch.

This year’s awards season has felt less like a race and more like a Game of Thrones bloodbath, with early front runners collapsing under disappointing box office receipts (First Man, Mary Poppins Returns), surefire smashes flopping in the precursor awards (A Star is Born), films with middling critical reception vastly overperforming (Bohemian Rhapsody), social media-driven mudslinging (Green Book) and unprecedented controversies threatening to derail whole campaigns (also Green Book).

And yet, this year’s Oscar nominations weren’t the all-out catastrophe I was expecting them to be. Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s meditative, semi-autobiographical film for Netflix, transcended the industry’s streaming bias to tie with The Favourite for the most nominations with 10, including surprise ones for Marina de Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio. Minus some high-profile snubs (Timothée Chalamet for Beautiful Boy, Ethan Hawke for First Reformed, Claire Foy for First Man), the acting races netted out as generally expected. In fact, they are arguably the most settled, and almost inconsequential, races this year in determining who will take home the biggest award of the night.

No, this year’s most impactful, headline-making nominations came from the Best Director category. The selections made by the Academy’s directors branch, more than any other, have set the tone for the rest of awards season, and could significantly re-shape the conversations and campaigns in the next five weeks up to the ceremony. Will the directors branch’s snobbery lead to Bradley Cooper’s Argo-esque comeback? Just how safe is Roma? Just how over is Green Book? Here are some key takeaways from this hugely important race:

Roma is the clear-cut frontrunner

In fairness, it was Roma’s nine other nominations that confirmed the Academy’s affection for Cuarón, but considering that he is widely expected to win Best Director again, it follows that the Academy is throwing behind this technical marvel in a game-changing way. That said, nominating a film and voting for it to win are two very different concepts, and it is possible that the Academy’s biases towards Netflix and streaming services in general could cripple it once the preferential ballots are out. That unknown leaves space for a direct challenger, although they will have a uphill battle to climb.

Bradley Cooper’s Best Director snub gives A Star is Born a path to Best Picture

It was a Best Director omission that seemed unthinkable yesterday; first-time director Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born. Once considered an all-out favorite to win the category, and to sweep the awards table, Cooper was passed over for less clear shots like Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite and Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War. Although A Star is Born scored nine nominations overall (two courtesy of Lady Gaga), the lukewarm reception by awards prognosticators seems to have spread to the Academy. While being ignored by the directors branch after all of his (misdirected, in my opinion) campaigning may certainly sting, Cooper may get his chance in the sun with Best Picture. Just ask Ben Affleck. Hollywood was shocked back in 2012 when he was snubbed for Best Director for Argo, and the groundswell of support for him lifted the film to a Best Picture win. Assuming Cooper and Warner Bros. can stoke the flames in a similar fashion, and lean on Gaga to help deliver that narrative (the “there can be 100 people” line is one of the season’s most iconic moments), then Cooper may not be utterly humiliated by walking away empty-handed next month.

Don’t count out Spike Lee (or Yorgos Lanthimos)

After more than thirty years in the film industry, Spike Lee scored his first Best Picture and Best Director nominations for BlacKKKlansman, along with four nods for the film. Thirty-plus years is a long time to go without recognition, and there is nothing like an “overdue” narrative to shift voters ballots in one’s favor. It may so be that Academy voters, unable to deny Cuarón’s incredibly technical achievement in Roma, could pitch Lee up past Cooper to a Best Picture win, or pitch Lee up past Cooper for a Best Adapted Screenplay win. Lee clearly has the support this time around, so the next five weeks will be crucial in determining whether he will finally take home the little gold guy.

Meanwhile, The Favourite has been running under the radar (aside from wins for Olivia Colman at the Globes and the Critics Choice Awards), However, its 10 nominations, including a surprise for Best Director, puts the film firmly towards the top of the Best Picture heap. It’s chances for Oscar glory are about as good as BlacKKKlansman, without a clear narrative to propel it and fierce competition from all sides. However, like Lee, the broad Academy support does give it a leg to stand on.

Green Book is pretty much done as a lead contender

Green Book headed into Tuesday morning as the new frontrunner, after the Producer’s Guild of America awarded it their Best Picture award, but all is not well for the buddy dramedy: the surprise appearances of Lanthimos and Pawlikowski also meant Peter Farrelly also lost a Best Director slot. It’s a massive huge snub, and suggests that either the director branch wasn’t as gung-ho about the film as the Globes and the PGA were, or that its myriad scandals were starting to wear on them. Either way, except for an all-but-guaranteed win for Mahershala Ali, Green Book may once again slink back to the middle of the pack.

Black Panther’s Best Picture nomination is (sadly) a vanity play

Good news: Black Panther proved that it didn’t need to be slotted in the abysmal Best Popular Film category for the Academy to recognize it. The film scored an impressive seven nominations, including Best Picture. Bad news: Ryan Coogler was not included in the Best Director shortlist. If the Academy were serious about Black Panther as a contender, they would’ve likely made room for Coogler, but instead it seems like the record-breaking film will have to settle for the nomination as a reward. That said, it is a historic nomination: no other superhero film has been nominated for Best Picture before.

You can view the full list of Oscar nominees below:

Best Picture

A Star Is Born
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
Roma
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Vice

Directing

Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Actress in a Supporting Role

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

Original Screenplay

The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
Vice

Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
BlacKkKlansman
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Cinematography

Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
Roma
A Star Is Born

Documentary Feature

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

Documentary Short Subject

Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Foreign Language Film

Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters
Capernaum
Never Look Away

Makeup and Hairstyling

Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Costume Design

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

Film Editing

BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Vice

Original Score

Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Animated Short Film

Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends

Live Action Short Film

Detainment
Fauve
Mother
Marguerite
Skin

Sound Editing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

Sound Mixing

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

Visual Effects

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

Original Song

“All the Stars” from Black Panther
“I’ll Fight” from RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow” from A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Production Design

Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

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