Right in the thick of awards season, the Academy has released their nominations for the 91st Academy Awards. While many are happy with the inclusion of critically acclaimed films like “A Star is Born” and “The Favourite,” many others are voicing their outrage on the inevitable nomination snubs. But, with every snub comes it’s share of surprise nominees. I won’t be discussing the full list of nominees, but rather my view of a few of the snubs and surprises I picked up on. If you want to check out the full list of nominees, you can find them on the official Oscars website.
Snub: Toni Collette
The Best Actress race this season is the most competitive of the night’s big awards. Everyone knew that Glenn Close (“The Wife”), Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”), Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) would be locks for a nomination. However, many experts speculated who would sweep up the fifth spot for this category. Several great performances were discussed, like Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer” and Rosamund Pike in “A Private War,” but many wondered if Toni Collette’s impressive turn as Annie Graham in “Hereditary” would have enough traction to get a nomination. In the end, it was Yalitza Aparicio, an unknown actress who gave her first performance in “Roma,” who took home the final slot. While I think it is great that Aparicio is getting the attention she deserves for a great performance, I truly believe this spot belonged to “Hereditary”’s Collette. Collette’s performance was rich with emotion and dread. “Hereditary” places you with her character right after a tragedy, but through Collette’s ticks and line delivery, you can tell Annie has been through so much more. It’s an outstanding performance that would have definitely garnered award nominations had it not been found in a horror film, which the Academy is infamous for ignoring. Many experts even penned her to be the favorite for Best Actress after “Hereditary” released in June 2018. Not only will I argue that Collette gave a better performance than Aparicio, but that she gave the best performance of the year by any actor.
Surprise: Lots of Love for “Black Panther”
Everyone knew in February, when “Black Panther” made its mark on the world, that it would be in the talks for Best Picture. People praised its epic scale and world building, while also being able to bring the characters down to Earth with emotional conflicts. The film was nominated for seven total Oscars this year in Production Design, Costume Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Score, Original Song and Best Picture. After the film was nominated at several other award shows for the equivalent of Best Picture, it was already a lock for that nomination. The six other nominations were a great surprise for a film that certainly deserves this recognition for the impact that it has made.
Snub: “First Reformed”
Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” was one of the best reviewed films of 2018, earning a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Upon release, the film was praised for bringing its dark and important subject matter to the screen in what may be actor Ethan Hawke’s best performance of his career. It was already shaping up to be an awards hit when it released in summer of 2018. It was even named the American Film Institute’s “Film of the Year.” However, the film was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay, while many believe it should have earned more love in the major categories. Director Paul Schrader could have easily been nominated for the Best Director award, and Ethan Hawke’s incredible performance should have earned him a nomination as well. There are also a few films nominated for Best Picture, like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Vice,” that some believed took a nomination away from “First Reformed.” I tend to agree with these people about the lack of nominations for what is being hailed by many as one of the best films of 2018.
Surprise: Best Picture for Queen and Cheney
The film community on Twitter lost their minds when “Bohemian Rhapsody” won “Best Motion Picture – Drama” at the 76th Golden Globes. Many believed the film to be inferior to the other four nominated. The film debuted to mixed reviews from critics with a 62 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was ultimately a huge hit with audiences. Based on its reception, experts thought its inclusion among the “Best Drama” conversation was solely to bring more viewers to the ceremony due to its popularity with fans. The film was expected not to receive an Oscar nomination and have no chance of winning solely because the Academy chooses to nominate as they see fit and not to please their viewers. Similarly, the Dick Cheney biopic, “Vice,” was nominated for several Golden Globes before it was even released. However, the film itself was met with mixed reviews from critics with a 66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while the performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell were universally praised. Every expert knew that at least two of the actors would be nominated for Oscars, but a Best Picture nomination was unclear due to its mixed response.
Regardless of whether the two were deserving, both films were surprisingly nominated for Best Picture, leading to mixed reactions from fans of the ceremony. Some praised that their favorites were acknowledged, while others rolled their eyes as more deserving films were left unnoticed. A unique surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.