While there are those that are happy that Joker received 11 Academy Award nominations, there are others who feel that there were plenty of other films more deserving of similar recognition. “Snubs” are inevitable every year. With only so many slots, only a few films can make it to the top. But this makes it all the more disappointing this year that the same five films appear multiple times when a ton of other great films came out this year.
As great as Joker, The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917 are, there were a host of other films that received little to no appreciation from the Academy this year, despite, in some categories, being arguably superior. These are the biggest snubs from the 92nd Academy Awards.
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This is undeniably the most egregious snub of the entire year. After her win for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes, The Farewell was expected to pull — at the very least — a nomination for lead actress, Awkwafina. The autobiographical film has so far won 12 different awards, including the American Film Institute’s Best Film of the Year, and been nominated for a lot more.
Yet the Academy Awards didn’t seem to think it was worthy for even a nomination. There has been controversy in recent years that the Academy Awards often seem to ignore films with greater diversity. With no women in its nominations for Best Director, Lulu Wang is an obvious omission.
When Uncut Gems first hit theaters, word on the street was that this would be the film that gave Adam Sandler an Oscar nomination. These people were, sadly, wrong. Despite Sandler giving a career-defining performance, Uncut Gems received no love from the Academy.
Beyond Sandler, there are other aspects of Uncut Gems that deserved praise, too, like the writing, the direction and the vastly underrated music. The biggest surprise, however, is Idina Menzel. Though she has an Oscar nomination thanks to Frozen II, Menzel’s performance in Uncut Gems is certainly worthy of a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME
Eddie Murphy has had some bad years, but he put that all behind him in Dolemite is My Name, a true story about the struggles of entertainer Rudy Ray Moore in the 1970s. The Academy Awards loves films about filmmakers who struggle to perfect their art, and Dolemite offers a far more realistic portrayal of the film industry than Once Upon in Hollywood does. The film has taken home nine awards this season so far, and was nominated for two Golden Globes.
Yet, once again, no nominations. Murphy, who was nominated for an Oscar previously for Dreamgirls, received no recognition this year. This is another huge snub, considering the overall lack of diversity in films this year.
Unlike a lot of these films, The Lighthouse was nominated for one significant Oscar this year: Best Cinematography. However, this nightmarish film of isolation and madness is also one of the best-reviewed films of the year, making it worthy of much more than just a single plaudit. It won nine other awards this year and was nominated for many others.
While the Academy couldn’t ignore the innovative and unique cinematography, it apparently could ignore Robert Eggers’ direction (for the second time, following The Witch), as well as Willam Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s acting, and the Herman Melville-esque script.
Like Eggers, Ari Aster is criminally overlooked by the Academy. Last year’s Oscars snubbed Hereditary, most specifically Toni Collette’s unflinching performance, and this year, it snubbed Midsommar. While Midsommar star Florence Pugh is nominated for her performance in Little Women, her performance in Midsommar rivals that, if not surpasses it.
But on top of that, the costumes, sets and cinematography in Midsommar blow rival films like Joker out of the water. It should come as no surprise, by the way, that Midsommar, The Lighthouse, Uncut Gems and The Farewell were all distributed by the same studio, A24. A24 had a superb year, but the Academy hasn’t recognized that.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
Another overlooked film is Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which is one of the year’s best foreign films. Along with Parasite, it was regarded by the National Board of Review as one of the year’s Top Five Foreign films, yet it didn’t receive a single nomination from the Academy, not even for its direction or cinematography.
Foreign films don’t typically get much recognition at the Oscars beyond the Best Foreign Film category. However, many expected Portrait of a Lady on Fire to at least be nominated for that one category. This is a glaring omission.
Hustlers is a superb movie that did very well at the box office last year. While few people expected the critically-acclaimed film to be nominated for Best Picture or anything like that, many expected Jennifer Lopez to receive a nomination.
When she did not receive that nomination, people have rightfully complained. It’s clear looking at the Academy’s Best Lead and Supporting Actresses this year that there is very little diversity among them. Scarlet Johannson has two nominations for two different films, after all. Lopez’s omission is even more obvious in that context.
Like The Lighthouse, Knives Out has a single major nomination, one for Best Original Screenplay. However, like The Lighthouse, this feels like very little considering the quality of Rian Johnson’s film.
Even ignoring the lack of a Best Director nod, the fact the film wasn’t nominated for Best Set Design despite presenting one of the most memorable sets this entire year (the whole mansion looks ripped from a game of Clue).
Us isn’t as beloved as Jordan Peele’s prior film, Get Out. The Academy has also historically ignored horror as a genre. But of all the performances in 2019, the most hypnotic and memorable one goes not to Joaquin Phoenix, but rather to Lupita Nyong’o for her nightmarish performance in Us.
That aside, Us didn’t get a single nomination for its music, direction, writing or anything else significant. Considering the love shown to Peele’s frankly revolutionary Get Out, it’s a highly disappointing turn-out for his follow-up effort.
No, you didn’t misread that. Detective Pikachu deserves an Oscar nomination for its special effects. Granted, it didn’t push boundaries like The Irishman did with its de-aging special effects, but Detective Pikachu brought its multitude of unique creatures to life in a convincing and beautiful way.
Take a moment to compare the digitally rendered characters of Detective Pikachu to one of the other films nominated in this category: The Lion King, which doesn’t achieve anywhere near the same level of expressiveness in its photorealistic animals as the former does.
Why is 1917, a film nominated for every category, nominated for its special effects while Detective Pikachu isn’t acknowledged as the VFX achievement that it is? This film was never going to get a Best Picture nod (nor should it), but the Academy could at least acknowledge the hard work that went into this film’s effects.
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