‘Joker’ Leads 92nd Academy Award Nominations With 11

Well, they always said that the accelerated Oscar season would create chaos. Earlier today, the 92nd Academy Awards announced their nominations for the Best of 2019, and while I predicted all nine Best Picture contenders correctly, I I didn’t anticipate who would be leading the pack with 11 nods: Todd PhillipsJoker.

That’s right, the gritty take on the infamous Batman villain has broken through every comic book glass ceiling imaginable, earning deserved nominations for Joaquin Phoenix, its Score, both Sound categories, and Editing, some debatable signs of the Academy’s love in nods for Phillips’ direction and screenplay, and some that make truly no sense (Costume Design? Really?). In fact, the only category it was truly up for that it didn’t get was Production Design. Regardless of your thoughts on the film, whether you love it, hate it, or come down in the middle like me, seeing a comic book film receive this level of love is truly a sight to behold. Coming in with ten nominations each were early frontrunners The Irishman and Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, which each earned two acting nominations (Pesci and Pacino, DiCaprio and Pitt), a directing nomination, and a screenplay nomination, as well as a variety of technical categories. Hollywood benefited from a wider swath of support thanks to nods from the Sound branch, but it faces its own uphill battle: it missed out on that all-important nomination for Best Editing. In 40 years, the only film to miss Best Editing and win Best Picture was Birdman, and it was designed to look unedited. That’s a deep, deep blow for Tarantino’s comedy-epic, but who knows? Stats are made to be broken.

Outside of Joker, the biggest story of the day is the impressive overperformance of Parasite and Jojo Rabbit, which earned six nominations each. Sadly, Parasite was unable to earn an acting nomination for its incredible ensemble (and Song Kang Ho in particular), but it did manage to earn Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing along with Best International Feature. It even managed to sneak out a nomination for Best Production Design. Parasite has now become the first South Korean film to compete at the Oscars, and will likely win Best International Feature. As for Taika Waititi’s satiric look at Nazi Germany, the film may have missed out on Waititi in Best Director, but it did earn nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Scarlett Johansson, as well as Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design. These are key nominations and indications of support, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these films were your stealth frontrunners, Green Book/Moonlight/Spotlight style.

Best Picture was rounded out by Ford v Ferrari, which outperformed expectations with four nods, including both Sound categories and Best Editing (although not, for some reason, Cinematography), Marriage Story, which earned three acting nominations (marking a Scarlett Johansson double nomination, the first since Cate Blanchett in 2007), a writing nomination, and Best Original Score, Little Women, which earned six nominations for Best Picture, two acting nods (Ronan and Pugh), Score, Costume Design, and Production Design, and 1917, which rounded out Best Director along with nods for Best Original Screenplay and most of the technical fields (although not, as expected, Best Editing). However, this is where things start to get disappointing: with Sam Mendes in the race as the fifth nominee for Best Director, we are once again looking at a year of five male Best Director nominees. This is incredibly egregious considering Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller, Melina Matzoukas, and more, who were responsible for the bulk of the year’s best films and deserved consideration in this category. As announcer Issa Rae noted in the moment, “Congratulations to these men.”

Moving into the acting nominations, we should start by getting the saddest, most shocking news out of the way: Jennifer Lopez was snubbed for her remarkable turn in Hustlers. That’s right, the Academy looked at one of the most shocking, entertaining, charismatic performances of the year and said, “Nah, Kathy Bates cried in that one scene in a movie that bombed critically and commercially. She was better.” And in case you’re wondering if there are darker, implicit forces at play, know that the role functions almost exactly the same as Pitt’s in Hollywood, rubbing salt into the Lopez fans’ wounds. Less painful, but no less shocking, was Taron Egerton missing Best Actor for his turn as Elton John. Egerton had been playing the game well, and had even won a Golden Globe for his efforts, and was widely seen as the only performer who could beat Phoenix. With him out of the way, Phoenix is a shoe-in for the Oscar. The final two slots in Best Actor went to Antonio Banderas for Pain & Glory and Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes, each earning their first Oscar nomination. The Two Popes in particular outperformed expectations, with Anthony Hopkins earning the fifth slot in Best Supporting Actor alongside Anthony McCarten’s screenplay. And while it the category mostly went as expected, it would have been nice to see Awkwafina sneak into Best Actress over Charlize Theron (as much as I love Theron in general). In fact, without Awkwafina, it fell to Cynthia Erivo’s remarkable turn as Harriet Tubman to save the Academy from another #OscarsSoWhite. Regardless of Erivo’s performance and skill, it is shameful that she is the only performer of color to receive a nod.

As I look through the other nominations, there are plenty of shocks and surprises to go around. Despite being the best documentary of the year, Apollo 11 was left out in the cold from the Best Documentary category. It was a snub I almost predicted – the Academy hates found footage documentaries, even ones as gorgeous as Apollo 11. I’m not sure if I’m madder that they snubbed it or that I didn’t call it. Similarly, it’s a real bummer that one of the best songs written for the big screen in a long time, “Glasgow” from Wild Rose, failed to earn a nomination. It’s slot went not to Beyoncé, as was expected, but surprisingly to the theme to Breakthrough, an oft-forgotten Christian film from March that earned modest reviews and box office results. Good for Breakthrough, I guess? Meanwhile, my logic for Best Sound turned out to be airtight, especially surrounding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, except I mixed up the category – turns out it earned a Sound Editing nomination instead of Sound Mixing! And what earned the final slot in Best Sound Mixing, you might ask? Well, turns out it was Ad Astra, James Gray’s intelligent, bizarre space opera! Ad Astra was a solid film, so I support this choice wholeheartedly. I was absolutely surprised to see Frozen II miss out on Best Animated Feature (but not disappointed), and even though it was expected, it’s still exciting to see Rian Johnson’s crackerjack script for Knives Out receiving a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Well, that’s where we’re at after the official nominations for the Oscars! Who’s our frontrunner now? Hard to say. Most likely it’s 1917 while Parasite and Jojo Rabbit patiently wait in the wings for the backlash to strike it down. We’ll know soon enough as the race begins to take shape. I’ll be back later in the month with my predictions for all 24 categories. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on February 9th, and will once again be going hostless. You can see the full list of nominees below.

Best Picture

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  • Parasite

Best Actor

  • 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

Best Actress

  • Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
  • Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
  • Charlize Theron – Bombshell
  • Renée Zellweger – Judy

Best Supporting Actor

  • 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

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kathy Bates – Richard Jewell
  • Laura Dern – Marriage Story
  • Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
  • Florence Pugh – Little Women
  • Margot Robbie – Bombshell

Best Director

  • Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
  • Sam Mendes – 1917
  • Todd Phillips – Joker
  • Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
  • Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

Best Original Screenplay

  • Knives Out
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  • Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • The Two Popes

Best Animated Feature

  • How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4

Best International Film

  • Corpus Christi
  • Honeyland
  • Les Misérables
  • Pain and Glory
  • Parasite

Best Documentary Feature

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

Best Documentary Short

  • In The Absence
  • Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

Best Live Action Short

  • Brotherhood
  • Nefta Football Club
  • The Neighbors’ Window
  • Saria
  • A Sister

Best Animated Short

  • Daughter
  • Hair Love
  • Kitbull
  • Memorable
  • Sister

Best Original Score

  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Original Song

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” – Toy Story 4
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” – Rocketman
  • “I’m Standing With You” – Breakthrough
  • “Into The Unknown” – Frozen II
  • “Stand Up” – Harriet

Best Sound Editing

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Joker
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Sound Mixing

  • Ad Astra
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Joker
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

Best Production Design

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  • Parasite

Best Cinematography

  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • The Lighthouse
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

Best Costume Design

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Bombshell
  • Joker
  • Judy
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • 1917

Best Film Editing

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Parasite

Best Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Irishman
  • The Lion King
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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