2019 Academy Awards nominations: Some disappointments and some pleasant surprises

The 2019 Academy Award nominations were announced today! I’ll write a longer post with my own personal picks and snubs as we get closer to the date of the ceremony, but for now, a few initial “yays and nays”:

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Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

YAY! The noted presence of non-US films in categories other than “Best Foreign Film” was a nice surprise. Critical darling Roma (Mexico) was of course at the top of the pack snagging a whopping 10 nominations. People figured it might be up for Best Picture and Best Director, but Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira also managed to snag well-deserved nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Elsewhere, Zimna wojna (“Cold War”) (Poland) got a nod for Best Director and Best Cinematography, while Werk ohne Autor (“Never Look Away”) (Germany) was also nominated in the latter category and Gräns (“Border”) (Sweden) got a nomination for Makeup & Hairstyling. Mirai no Mirai (Japan) also got a nomination for Best Animated Feature after getting a Golden Globe nomination in the same category.

NAY! Nothing for Eighth Grade? It’s tied for my highest rated movie of the year with an amazing 9/10 but didn’t even manage to grab a nomination for best original screenplay, which seemed to be its only hope going in. Young Elsie Fisher really did deserve a best actress nod too for her amazing work.

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Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried in First Reformed

YAY! Eighth Grade’s slot for best original screenplay seemed to have gone to a different smaller release from the year- First Reformed. A well-deserved nomination for a heart-wrenching meditation on hopelessness and hypocrisy. Still, would’ve liked to see both of these smaller releases on the list instead of, say, Green Book, a pretty conventional if heartwarming film that came nowhere near the aching authenticity of the other two in its script.

NAY! Annihilation was one of the first films of 2018 that I was really excited about.

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The “Shimmer” in Annihilation

I had a few troubles with its script and considering its weirdness, smaller scale, and early release, I figured it wouldn’t be in too much Oscar talk come awards season. I had held out hope for a visual effects nod though thanks to its incredible, beautiful, and terrifying images throughout, but alas, it was not to be.

YAY! Did not expect The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to get so many nominations after its mixed reception upon its release to Netflix. I found it good, not great as well, but its nomination for Best Original Song (“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”) I’m quite happy to get on board with. It was a hilarious, dark, and oddly touching musical number that wrapped up chapter 1 of the Coen brothers’ anthology film beautifully.

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Jonah Hill in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

NAY! None of the awards-predicting posts I’ve read in the blogosphere so far have even come close to mentioning Gus Van Sant’s quietly-released Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, but I just have to say one final time that if I had my way, Jonah Hill would’ve been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. His turn was a thing of beauty, tragic and mysterious. And while I’m at it, how about giving Jaoquin Phoenix some love too? He could’ve been nominated for either Don’t Worry… or Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. And speaking of (I’m almost done complaining), a directing nod for Ramsay also would’ve been well-deserved.

That’s all for now! I want to hear from you- what were some of your initial reactions to today’s Oscar nominations? Surprised? Disappointed? Let me know in the comments!

First Reformed (2017)

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A priest of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past. (IMDb)
A devastating near-masterpiece. There were two questionable moments–that trip through nature, and the final exchange (both a happy and a sad ending could’ve been powerful, but this was just cliche)–but they’re outweighed by the loaded theological pondering, the hopeless expose of environmental destruction and religious evils (see the contrast of the celebration plans with everything else), and the resulting descent into despair and anger that envelops the viewer. Wonderfully acted and shot.
8.5/10 (Amazing)