With the telecast of the 92nd Oscars ceremony happening in little over a day, cinephiles are growing fervent and making last-minute bets on which nominees will emerge victorious come Monday afternoon (antipodean time). Even so, there are some amongst this group who can’t quite shake the feeling that certain films and individuals missed out on being recognised.
Listed below are some of the snubs which made this author angriest of all.
The Lighthouse for Best Picture
From a technical perspective alone, Robert Eggers’ subversive horror film is worth consideration – photographed with century-old equipment in greyscale, it’s visually distinctive from any other movie released in 2020, and it looks fantastic. It’s also seen plenty of love from critics for its allegorical tale and phenomenal lead performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. For these reasons, The Lighthouse is more deserving of a Best Picture nod than most, and yet has barely incited any interest during awards season.
Greta Gerwig for Best Director
Undoubtedly the biggest surprise in 2019 was Little Women, a fresh and energetic adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name. Gerwig deservedly secured a nomination for her efforts in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but failed to be recognised for her (arguably superior) directorial efforts, despite being nominated in the same category two years earlier for Lady Bird.
Eddie Murphy for Best Lead Actor
Once a household name among adults and children alike, in recent years Murphy has kept quiet and undertaken relatively few projects. Murphy’s performance as Rudy Ray Moore in Dolomite is My Name has been acclaimed as his best in years, if not decades, and has been nominated for an Oscar previously, so it’s bizarre that he shouldn’t be recognised at this ceremony too. (In fairness, the performances that were nominated are all great.)
Lupita Nyong’o for Best Lead Actress
With the success of Get Out, director Jordan Peele proved that horror movies and early-year releases could simultaneously be profitable and win favour with the Academy. Such success has not been repeated with Peele’s follow-up feature Us, which isn’t very surprising; what does astonish though is that Nyong’o has been overlooked for her dual performance as Adelaide Wilson/Red. The one-time Oscar-winner drew considerable praise for her efforts from critics, acclaim which has amounted to mute come awards season.
Song Kang-ho for Best Supporting Actor
A veteran of the Korean film industry, Song offers the defining performance of his lifetime in Parasite as the patriarch of an impoverished family masquerading as servants for an upper-class household. Although the movie has received six nominations at this year’s Oscars, and recently won a Screen Actors Guild Award, Song is yet to receive individual recognition for his efforts – he’s more deserving of it than most.
Meryl Streep for Best Supporting Actress
It’s a running joke among Hollywood insiders about how much the Academy loves Streep. Since 1979, she has been awarded five Oscars from 21 nominations, a record unmatched by any other actor living or dead. Streep’s brief performance in Little Women is not only the most entertaining of the film, but one of the best in her career, which begs the question as to why voters chose to ignore her on this occasion.
Long Shot for Best Original Screenplay
Here’s a romantic-comedy that does more than tug at the heartstrings of the viewer, for it’s also a timely, progressive film with a thought-provoking conflict. Despite being well-received by critics, blessed with the presence of Charlize Theron and seemingly tailor-made for Oscar success, there has been no love for Long Shot since its release in mid-2019. Pity, because it’s also one of the funniest movies of the past decade.
Hustlers for Best Adapted Screenplay
It pains that Lorene Scarfaria was turned down for a Best Director category; likewise Jennifer Lopez, whose much-applauded role failed to secure a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Yet what hurts more than anything is this critical and commercial success wasn’t recognised in a category for which it should have been a shoo-in – perhaps the contemporary setting and themes of female empowerment were just too much for the Academy’s core demographic of old, white men.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire for Best International Feature Film
Unlike the other fields at the Oscars, which are determined by individual submissions, the International Feature category sees representatives nominate a single film from their country, which is then added to a shortlist. For this year’s ceremony, France chose the biographical drama Les Miserables over Celine Sciamma’s beautiful, restrained picture about romance and intimacy which, again, has been widely praised by critics – it’s the only picture that had a legitimate chance of toppling Parasite for the prize.
The Farewell for… well, pick one
Zero. That is the number of nominations afforded to The Farewell at the 92nd Academy Awards. That means no recognition for Lulu Wang, who is writing and directing her feature-length debut; no recognition for Awkwafina, the musician-turned-comedian-turned-actor whose lead performance is nothing short of phenomenal; and no recognition for any of the other cast members who provided exemplary support. How the Academy missed this one is beyond the comprehension of this author.
Now, with that out of the way, here are this author’s predictions for tomorrow:
Best Picture: 1917
Best Director: Sam Mendes (1917)
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger (Judy)
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Best Original Screenplay: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Irishman
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4
Best International Feature: Parasite
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins (1917)
Best Film Editing: Ford v Ferrari
Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing: 1917
Best Original Score: Thomas Newman (1917)
Best Original Song: “Into the Unknown” (Frozen II)
Best Production Design: Parasite
Best Visual Effects: The Irishman
Best Make-up and Hair-styling: Bombshell
Best Costume Design: Little Women
Best Feature-Length Documentary: For Sama
Best Documentary Short: Learning to Skate in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Best Animated Short: Kitbull