After weeks of hand-wringing and Twitter-screaming, the 2019 Academy Award nominations were announced, and the results were relatively predictable – Roma! A Star is Born! The Favourite! And [weary sigh] Green Book!
Naturally, this early wake-up call also held fast to one of the Oscars’ most enduring traditions: the surprise omission. Several of the darlings of the festival circuit — your Ethan Hawkes, your Timothée Chalamets, your crowd-pleasing documentaries on legendary children’s television hosts — will be left wondering how so much critical support didn’t translate to love from the Academy. Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper must be a ball of confusion this morning, as he was nominated several times except the one place everyone presumed he was a lock. And there are more head-scratching M.I.A. names as well. Many more.
Here are 16 of the biggest snubs and surprises from this year’s list of nominations. Some have been grouped together per film and category, some have been singled out. All of them have us going, “WTF, Academy?!”
Best Director: Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born and Peter Farrelly for Green Book
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die when it comes to predicting Best Director. Since its premiere, the assumption was that Cooper would be all over the Oscar nominations list this morning, and he mostly was — Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay. Except the bearded auteur was absent in the one place where it may have mattered most to him. Snubbed by his directorial peers, he will at least get a break from wondering if he will win for one major category.
And Cooper can cry in his champagne with Peter Farrelly, who looked primed to appear here after a Directors Guild nomination and the general love for Green Book on the awards circuit. Whether you love or hate the movie, it was assumed that the former There’s Something About Mary filmmaker would be included at the expense of some other worthy director. For better or worse, this wasn’t the case. He will need to find another true story to turn into a crowdpleaser if he wants a personal Oscar nod.
Best Actor: Ethan Hawke for First Reformed
How many critics awards does an actor have to win to get an Oscar nomination?!?! Apparently, almost all of them isn’t the answer. Hawke nearly ran the table with critics’ groups around the country; all signs, divine and otherwise, pointed to him being the closest thing to a lock here. And while the actor has been feted by Oscar before — nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Boyhood and Training Day; Best Screenplay nods for cowriting the Before movies — his exclusion from the party for what’s arguably the single best performance of his career in Paul Schrader’s drama is hard to understand. Pass the Pepto and whiskey.
Best Actress: Toni Collette for Hereditary
Speaking of critical darlings, this one may hurt even more than Hawke. Sure, by the time the nominations were approaching, even fans of this movie had stopped making sacrifices to Paimon. But knowing that a long-standing bias from “serious” awards-giving bodies against the horror genre doesn’t make the Academy ignoring Collette’s searing, fearless work in this terrifying story of a family falling apart any easier. No offense to the five nominated performers, but no actress in 2018 brought down the house like she did in Hereditary. It sucks that history will be the only thing to recognize that.
Best Supporting Actor: Michael B. Jordan for Black Panther and Timothée Chalamet for Beautiful Boy
After the likely frontrunners — Mahershala Ali and Richard E. Grant — the general consensus was that Best Supporting Actor was a horse race between a number of competitors — and that some deserving candidates wouldn’t cross the finish line. When Beautiful Boy premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this past fall, the assumption was that Chalamet would ride his current success all the way to his second nomination in a row. Nope.
And Black Panther may be the first MCU movie nominated for Best Picture, but the Academy wasn’t quite ready to truly crown the movie. It was left out of several deserving categories (more on that in a second), but Jordan’s snub in the Best Supporting Actor nominations is a cut that admittedly draws blood. Long after these other roles are forgotten, people will be talking about Killmonger.
Best Picture: If Beale Street Could Talk
You can argue the merits of questionable Best Picture nominees like Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book and Vice; it’s hard, however, to look at the absence of Barry Jenkins’ transcendent adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel and not feel like the film had been robbed. It never found traction with voters like Moonlight did just a few years ago, though the writing section of the Academy cited his work in Adapted Screenplay. Still, we’ll never understand how one of the best films of 2018 missed out here.
First Man: Claire Foy for Best Supporting Actress and Justin Hurwitz for Best Score
After a surprisingly strong showing at the BAFTA awards, it looked like Damien Chazelle’s drama about Neil Armstrong’s trip to the moon might be surging enough to make a bigger dent at the Oscars than we thought. Instead, it missed several places that even conservative pundits thought it would show up, including the relatively thin category of Best Supporting Actress for Foy and for Justin Hurwitz’s Golden Globe-winning score. For months, it felt like these were two places that First Man could possibly win. Their Oscar campaigns were grounded before they get to the launch pad.
Best Documentary: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
This one’s a true head-scratcher, as a lot of people considered Morgan Neville’s documentary about the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the single viable candidate to win. It’s sweet, it makes you cry, it reminds you of better days — it was a lock, right? And while it’s hard to complain about a category that nominated such outstanding nonfiction work as Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Of Fathers and Sons and Minding the Gap, this was still a shocker — even if it means that smaller, largely-unseen films will now be getting a major push, something even Fred probably would agree is a good thing.
Black Panther: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther landed a nod for Best Picture among its seven nominations on the morning (and that’s the proper Best Pic category, not some “Popular Oscar” nonsense.) But it was still hard to shake the feeling that the movie was only partially invited to the party. Apparently no one directed or wrote the biggest movie of 2018? It missed out in both of those categories. Yes, it’s a big deal that a costumed hero is in the typically snooty Best Picture category … but imagine the message that the Academy could have sent by recognizing the script and director too. Wakanda Forever!
Burning: Best Foreign Language Film or Best Supporting Actor
The Academy proved that they can think outside of the box a bit when it comes to foreign-language films, nominating two for Best Director this year (Cold War and Roma). But this is often a category with a few wild misses — and ignoring Lee Chang-dong’s masterful Burning singes more than most. It would have been the first Korean movie ever nominated in the section. Was it too odd for them? Too disturbing? Too enigmatic? We’ll never know. Ditto the omission of Steven Yeun in the Best Supporting Actor category as well; it may have been a long shot, but the former Walking Dead actor’s take on a bona fide sociopath deserved to be here. Add it to the list of masterpieces with zero Academy Award nominations.
Best Director: A single woman
Believe it or not, it wasn’t just men directing the best films of 2018. Sure, the Academy nominated Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? for a pair of acting awards and Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots for Costume Design. But the Oscars’ long history of ignoring female directors in this category continued, with five dudes nominated for one of the most prestigious awards of the night. What about Lynne Ramsay’s work on You Were Never Really Here? How about Debra Granik’s for Leave No Trace? You loved McCarthy and Grant — what about the woman who directed them?! Someday the gender balance in this category will feel like it’s finally been corrected. This isn’t that day.
Crazy Rich Asians: For anything
One of the most enjoyable film stories of 2018 was the deafening buzz that turned Crazy Rich Asians into a worldwide phenomenon. And awards-giving bodies had been recognizing it over the last few months, with PGA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture. The question was: Where would the Academy shower their exclusive wealth on this smash movie? Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Yeoh? Best Screenplay? Best Production Design? The answer is “none of the above.” It got zero nominations. Zilch. Bupkiss. It almost makes you wish there were still a category for Best Popular Film just so Asians could have landed somewhere. Almost.