As mentioned in our 2018 year-end review, the year in film comprised a strange but satisfying mix of big-budget blockbusters and smaller, specific stories. Now, with a slate of Best Picture nominees ranging from Roma and The Favourite to Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther, it's clear the Academy feels similarly. But cast a net that wide and there are bound to be some snubs and surprises.
Director Debra Granik on the set of "Leave No Trace" Scott Green
There are no women in contention for the Best Director award this year, despite the fact that critics could not stop talking about the brilliance of Chloe Zhao's The Rider, Lynne Ramsey's You Were Never Really Here, and Debra Granik's Leave No Trace. Even Marielle Heller, whose Can You Ever Forgive Me? earned two acting nominations and a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, couldn't seem to break into the category.
Rami Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody"Alex Bailey / Twentieth Century Fox
Surprise: Male Actors
Willem Defoe, Sam Rockwell, Viggo Mortensen, and Rami Malek all snagged acting nominations. On paper, the nominations of two returning nominees and a newcomer arriving on the wind of a great performance doesn't seem surprising. Yet add together the fact that Defoe's nomination is the sole nomination for At Eternity's Gate, Rockwell's and Malek's are for roles in films with broadly tepid reviews, and Mortensen's is for a film that's been regarded as problematic (to put it lightly), and the result is a strange, uneven lineup. Add again that BlackkKlansman lead John David Washington was shut out altogether, and the result seems like a mess.
Snub: No Director Nomination for Bradley Cooper
Surely Bradley Cooper is thrilled that his directorial debut, A Star is Born, has garnered eight nominations, including Best Picture. While the film has been recognized for acting, writing, music, and cinematography, he was left out of contention for Best Director, which he wanted so badly we could all taste it. Alas, like Ben Affleck before him, he couldn't seem to go full Clooney. Which proves that there can be 24 awards at the Oscars, and you can be nominated for eight of them, but only one is the one that will make the industry take you seriously as a filmmaker, and that, to Bradley, is Best Director.
Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.
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