It’s almost time for the Super Bowl of movies.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced nominations for the 92nd Oscars. Let’s take a quick look at a few key categories. What did the academy get wrong? What did they get right?
Todd Philips’ controversial "Joker" wound up leading the pack with 11 nominations, while Sam Mendes’ war drama "1917," Martin Scorsese’s crime epic "The Irishman" and Quentin Tarantino’s nostalgic "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" all ended up with 10 each.
It was quite a year for Netflix, which picked up 24 nominations, the most of any studio. Disney, which now includes 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight, picked up 23 nods, while Sony picked up 20. Look for lots of old-Hollywood-versus-new-Hollywood think pieces in the months to come.
The best director category was entirely male. Greta Gerwig’s "Little Women" scored six nominations, but best director was not one of them. Tom Hanks picked up a best actor nom for Marielle Heller’s "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"; Heller was not so blessed. Actors of color were not well represented in the acting categories, either, continuing a long-running and disappointing trend.
And a mess of excellent movies were shut out altogether, including the galvanizing "Uncut Gems"; the tear-jerking "The Farewell"; the smartly horrific "Us" and "Midsommar"; the gleeful "Booksmart"; and documentary "Apollo 11."
And now, our take on the nominees in some of the top Oscars categories:
• "Ford v Ferrari"
• "The Irishman"
• "Jojo Rabbit"
• "Little Women"
• "Marriage Story"
• "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
J.G.: The gimmes: "Irishman," "Marriage Story," "1917" and "Once Upon a Time." The good bits: Nice to see "Little Women" and "Parasite" in there. There is an old-school, crowd-pleaser vibe to "Ford v Ferrari"; I can’t decide if it will help or hurt the movie.
As for the bummers: The absence of "The Farewell" and "Uncut Gems" is just embarrassing. I was really hoping "Joker" worship would be some weird tick of the BAFTA noms, but no. Someday, Hollywood will get over stories of tortured white dudes Who Just Can’t Take It Anymore, but today is not that day.
E.W.: No surprises for me, mostly in a good way. "Parasite" gets its richly deserved top-shelf nom, which should have been a lock. But as we’ve seen, the academy never met a shoelace it didn’t love to trip over. Bong Joon Ho’s immaculately constructed class-tension thriller deserves to take the big prize. The only outcome I’d love more is a trophy for "Little Women," considering … well, more on that later.
The Golden Globes gave its best picture honors to "1917" for drama and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." If that’s a bellwether, Sam Mendes’ gut-wrenching optical illusion of a war movie would be a timely and satisfying winner. (It seems we need to be reminded that war is inhuman?) Smart money is on Quentin Tarantino’s Manson-era fable, though. If "Joker" wins, that’ll be a laugh.
• Martin Scorsese, "The Irishman"
• Todd Phillips, "Joker"
• Sam Mendes, "1917"
• Quentin Tarantino, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
• Bong Joon Ho, "Parasite"
J.G.: Expect fans to hurl themselves from cars, "Lady Bird"-style, over the news that Greta Gerwig did not get a directing nom for "Little Women." And while "Parasite" continues its historic run for a foreign film in America, every other nomination here is to be expected.
E.W.: So you’re telling me that conjuring a fresh, incandescent take on an oft-adapted and beloved literary classic that speaks to the current moment better than a "The King of Comedy" riff ever could is not good enough for an Oscar nod? Malarkey. It’s exhausting, isn’t it, the frat party that the awards bodies keep making this category? Gerwig should be here; if not her, Lulu Wang for "The Farewell" or "Hustlers" captain Lorene Scafaria.
I need this one to go to Bong or Mendes, but I’m ready for a cringey Tarantino speech.
Actress in a leading role
• Cynthia Erivo, "Harriet"
• Scarlett Johansson, "Marriage Story"
• Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women"
• Charlize Theron, "Bombshell"
• Renée Zellweger, "Judy"
J.G.: In an act of startling rudeness, "Bombshell" was somehow not shut out of anything. Erivo has run into some flack for her role in "Harriet," so this feels like a race between late-life Judy Garland and early-career Jo March, which is a buddy comedy I would love to see.
E.W.: No Lupita Nyong’o for a full-body transformation in Jordan Peele’s "Us." No Golden Globe-winner Awkwafina for her understated, grounding turn in Lulu Wang’s "The Farewell." I know there’s limited real estate, but it’s a shame nonetheless. I am all in on Zellweger, whose clang-clang-clang-goes-the-acting portrayal of Judy Garland in "Judy" was so good that it probably made me rate the movie too high when I reviewed it.
Actor in a leading role
• Antonio Banderas, "Pain and Glory"
• Leonardo DiCaprio, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
• Adam Driver, "Marriage Story"
• Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker"
• Jonathan Pryce, "The Two Popes"
J.G.: Were it up to me, Adam Driver would be switched out for Adam Sandler, who pretty well vanished into scuzzy, exhausting diamond dealer Howard Ratner in "Uncut Gems." Banderas turned in a career-best performance in "Pain and Glory." DiCaprio and Pryce were both excellent, but the idea of further praising "Joker" is genuinely repulsive. Also: No Robert De Niro for "Irishman" is legitimately fascinating.
E.W.: When I was jogging through a delirious early morning fog Monday — both meteorological and mental — I thought, "Hope that kid from ‘Jojo Rabbit’ gets nominated." I know kid nods at the Oscars rarely lead to wins, but man, Roman Griffin Davis kept that time bomb of a movie from exploding. I think this is Leo’s to win, but Banderas would make us all sleep a little better at night.
Actress in a supporting role
• Kathy Bates, "Richard Jewell"
• Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"
• Scarlett Johansson, "Jojo Rabbit"
• Florence Pugh, "Little Women"
• Margot Robbie, "Bombshell"
J.G.: Twitter lost its mind when it became clear that Jennifer Lopez wasn’t going to pick up a nomination for her role in "Hustlers," which was clearly her best in years (seeing her flipped with Robbie would have been ideal). Dern was the best thing about "Marriage Story," while Pugh turned Amy March from the Actual Worst to someone vaguely sympathetic, which was a combination of her meaty performance and Gerwig’s script. Nobody saw "Richard Jewell," while Johansson is somehow on this nominations slate twice, which might involve a blood sacrifice of some sort.
E.W.: "Kathy Bates" is a weird way to spell Jennifer Lopez’s name. The "Hustlers" queenpin’s exclusion is the most devastating snub this year. (I also hoped to see Zhao Shuzhen for "The Farewell," but optimism is a finite resource.) Dern will and should win, but Pugh Crew, we ride at dawn!
Actor in a supporting role
• Tom Hanks, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
• Anthony Hopkins, "The Two Popes"
• Al Pacino, "The Irishman"
• Joe Pesci, "The Irishman"
• Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
J.G.: Pesci, Pesci, Pesci. Even if the "Irishman" bored you stupid, it was impossible not to be blown away by little Joe, who has never been so restrained. Pacino was Pacino; Hanks did the impossible (or close to it) by getting close to embodying an actual icon. Hopkins was strong as the retired Pope Benedict XVI.
That leaves Brad Pitt, who picked up an Oscar for producing "12 Years a Slave." He might get one here just for many years of service as Brad Pitt. I wanted Archie Yates as Yorki, Jojo’s oddly riveting best pal "Jojo Rabbit." And justice for Wayne Diamond as "Handsome Older Man" in "Uncut Gems"!
EW: "It’s gonna be Pitt," he sang in a Justin Timberlake voice. No one’s ever made sun-battered skin look better.
• "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"
• "I Lost My Body"
• "Missing Link"
• "Toy Story 4"
J.G.: "Toy Story 4" was the rare Pixar movie that was actually not very good. Almost nobody saw the French fantasy "I Lost My Body" or the Spanish Christmas flick "Klaus" in the theater. (Check Netflix.) "Missing Link" and the third "Dragon" movie were pretty standard stuff. This one feels like a coin toss.
E.W.: Someone on the "Frozen 2" public relations team is pouring a little Maker’s Mark into their coffee Monday morning.
• "The Irishman"
• "Jojo Rabbit"
• "Little Women"
• "The Two Popes"
J.G.: Unless they mean "adapted from GamerGate's Twitter trolls," I have no idea how "Joker" can be an adapted screenplay. Adapted from ... a vague idea about a comic book character, I suppose? The comedy "Jojo Rabbit" was adapted from Christine Leunens' not-funny book "Caging Skies," which stretches the idea of adaptation almost as far as "Joker." This feels between "Irishman" and "Little Women," the latter of which would nab Gerwig an Oscar.
E.W.: Gerwig did open-heart surgery of Louisa May Alcott’s book and made it sing. I can’t think of a win better in the spirit of the award.
• "Knives Out"
• "Marriage Story"
• "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
J.G.: "Knives Out" was knotty and fun, which is not something you can say about "Marriage Story," "1917" (which will likely resonate more with European crowds than American ones) or, indeed, "Parasite," excellent as the latter was. So Rian Johnson’s ode to Agatha Christie is probably screwed. Tarantino’s known for his chatter (and worshipped by screenwriters), which helps "Once Upon a Time."
E.W.: I didn’t think "Knives Out" was as clever as it thought it was. "Marriage Story," drawing some heart from writer-director Noah Baumbach’s life, did some cool things with narrative perspective and audience sympathy. Let’s send the Baumbach-Gerwig household home with some hardware.
• "American Factory"
• "The Cave"
• "The Edge of Democracy"
• "For Sama"
J.G.: Where on Earth (get it?) is "Apollo 11," a stunning movie that looked legitimately incredible on a big screen and revised our understanding of a historical event? Absurd. This is "For Sama’s" to lose.
E.W.: My favorite doc I saw last year (from an admittedly limited list) was "Cold Case Hammarskjöld," so I don’t think I get to talk.
• "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away" from "Toy Story 4"
• "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" from "Rocketman"
• "I'm Standing With You" from "Breakthrough"
• "Into the Unknown" from "Frozen 2"
• "Stand Up" from "Harriet"
J.G.: I remain unconvinced there is a breakout here.
E.W.: CGI cat demon Taylor Swift from the motion picture "Cats," I’m so sorry, sweetie.