A year of genre compliance and defiance
By Bex Peterson, Editor-in-Chief
It’s true to say nearly every year, but the 2019 Oscar nominations are absolutely a mixed bag.
The Best Picture category contains classical critical darlings such as the fourth remake of A Star Is Born (the last two remakes, for reference, also received Oscar nods in their day, with the 1976 version receiving an Academy Award for Best Original Song), as well as some genre outliers such as Black Panther. One film to watch out for that the Other Press recently reviewed, Roma, is notable as a contender for Best Picture since—if it were to win—it would be the first primarily non-English language film and film produced by an online streaming service (Netflix) to do so. This would certainly change how traditional film institutions view productions by online streaming services, which could lead to fascinating developments in the film industry on the whole.
The Lead Actor category is fairly predictable by Oscar standards. You have your “actor’s actor” forcing himself to endure a full-body transformation into a well-known political figure (Christian Bale portraying Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice), something that nabbed Gary Oldman his long-awaited Academy Award last year for his take on Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Bradley Cooper is an obvious choice for a nomination give the critical and commercial success of A Star Is Born, as is Rami Malek’s turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Lead Actress category is a little more varied. Lady Gaga has certainly earned her accolades as an actor in her own right as well as a singer in A Star Is Born. It’s also refreshing to see more comedic actors such as Olivia Colman and Melissa McCarthy earn recognition for their brilliant blend of comedy and drama in The Favourite and Can You Ever Forgive Me? respectively.
It’s worth noting that the Lead Actor and Actress categories exhibit some of the same problems many have criticized over the past few years with April Reign’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign. In a year that featured many incredible films by and starring people of colour (If Beale Street Could Talk, BlacKkKlansman, Sorry to Bother You, Black Panther, et cetera), it’s a little jarring that these categories seem to have left out many of the actors responsible for the success of these features in favour of people we’ve seen time and time again.
The Best Director category, thankfully, is a little more reflective of the talent from this past year. Spike Lee’s been nominated for BlacKkKlansman and Alfonso Cuarón for Roma, though it would have been nice to see some recognition for Boots Riley for Sorry to Bother You and Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk. Yorgos Lanthimos is a worthy contender for The Favourite, as is Adam McKay’s quirky and often jarring look at the Bush administration with Vice. Notably, Bradley Cooper has been left out of this category for A Star Is Born—a snub that Cooper was apparently quite embarrassed by according to an interview with Oprah last week.
The Animated Feature category is worth discussing if just for the dark horse of the slate, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Breaking away from the CGI Disney sequel offerings of the year—Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet—as well as the classically-animated Japanese feature Mirai and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion piece Isle of Dogs, Into the Spider-Verse is noteworthy for its experimental blend of animation techniques.
Spider-Verse was a risk on Sony’s part to produce, putting out an animated feature offering vulnerable to genre fatigue with the plethora of superhero movies on the market these days. It also features Miles Morales, a fresh-faced Spider-Man whom many outside the comics world might not have encountered or even heard of before. However, for its tight storytelling, beautiful animation, and incredible sound design and score, I’m personally hoping that Into the Spider-Verse receives the Academy recognition it deserves. It would encourage other animation studios to take a few more risks with regards to the projects they produce and convince the movie-going public that animation isn’t “just for kids,” but an art form in its own right worthy of praise.
Black Panther, Ryan Coogler
BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee
Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
Green Book, Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper
Vice, Adam McKay
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice
Incredibles 2, Brad Bird
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda
Ralph Breaks the Internet, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Animal Behaviour, Alison Snowden, David Fine
Bao, Domee Shi
Late Afternoon, Louise Bagnall
One Small Step, Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
Weekends, Trevor Jimenez