Maybe the best entertainment drama of the year thus far has been watching the Oscars squirm their way through bouts of relevancy.

Over the summer, it was announced by the Academy of Motion Pictures that the next awards season would introduce the decried “achievement in popular film” category that many film fans lambasted as the end of cinema as an art form. It was a stupid, cynical call to try and help the Oscars maintain relevancy as ratings drop with every yearly broadcast. Then, of course, Kevin Harte was forced to step down as the host of the Oscars when homophobic jokes he made years ago surfaced. The academy demanded an apology. In turn, Harte stood on principle and declined the offer to host.

The resulting void has lead to a lot of speculation as to who will actually be hosting the awards next month. I’ve seen progressive film fans suggest anyone from Hannah Gatsby to a CGI Paddington Bear being suggested to host the Oscars. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. The Vegas odds are on someone progressive and safe, given that the two last years hosted by Jimmy Kimmel has skewed far left.

In most regards, the Academy Awards is an aging, self-serious ceremony that mostly exists for Hollywood to reward itself. The voting base responsible for selecting Oscar nominees and winners is a distant hivemind of elderly filmmakers whose filmgoing preferences don’t reflect hardly any semblance of the population at large. Casual moviegoing fans who enjoy blockbusters, conservatives who miss Golden age Hollywood mythmaking and progressives seeking far left diverse protest films all tend to dislike the Academy Awards’ selection tendencies.

The term “Oscar Bait” exists for a reason. The Academy loves vaguely liberal, vaguely socially conscious and highly self-aggrandizing movies about the power of cinema to make the world better. As YouTuber MatPat once put it, the most Oscar-ish film ever conceived would be a movie about how Hollywood helped stop the Holocaust.

In any case, Tuesday morning brought the announcement of this year’s nominees for the Academy Awards. As I look at this year’s list I’m primarily going to focus on the major awards. As someone who has worked behind the scenes in the film industry, I can attest that technical awards are largely a formality. Most any sound editor or costume designer will tell you that the best examples of their craft are the quietest and seamless films where you don’t notice the work put into them. Counterintuitively, technical awards tend to go to films where the technical aspects of the filmmaking are most evident or they get shoveled off on studio blockbusters that most people in the academy don’t bother to watch. This year the awards ceremony is supposed to be presenting more of these awards during commercial breaks to shorten the broadcast. If the Academy doesn’t take them seriously I won’t either.

The biggest sweeps thus far in nominations are Roma, Blackkklansman, The Favourite, A Star is Born, and Green Book. None of these are surprising. The latter two films seem pretty appropriately suited to Oscar sensibilities. The former two are natural picks given their progressive themes (black identity and LGBTQ themes, respectively). The only real upset is Roma which was speculated would wind up being relegated in the foreign language film category. Given that it’s widely regarded by the film press as one of the best films of the year it’s not surprising it got a proper Best Picture nomination.

Black Panther is, of course, a best picture nominee, because of course it is. The last several years of Academy Awards have been inundated by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. If the Academy hadn’t given the movie a best picture nomination, progressive film buffs would never let them hear the end of it. That isn’t to say that the film is bad. As far as I’m concerned it’s the best solo Marvel film since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is a somewhat cynical nomination regardless.

There are some notable absences. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, First Reformed, The Other Side of the Wind, Eighth Grade and Annihilation were all missing off of the Best Picture/Best Director categories (the first two did receive Screenplay nominations). Won’t You Be My Neighbor noticeably didn’t get much love in the Documentaries category. They Shall Not Grow Old, unfortunately, wasn’t valid for awards this season because it released too late in the year for too short a time. Naturally, though the documentary on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made the cut.

I’m eagerly awaiting the imminent controversies that are going to consume this Award season build up. The last several years of broadcasts have hemorrhaged viewership in proportion to the awards willingness to delve into overt politicization. We’re still waiting on who will end up hosting the ceremony this year and it’s likely that the more overtly progressive films will end up getting snubbed arbitrarily. If Green Room won Best Picture over Blackkklansman or Roma the sheer number of far left heads that would explode would be a sight to see. In any case, the drama will certainly be far more entertaining than the actual ceremony!

Full Nominees List:

Best Picture: Black Panther, Blackkklansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favorite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice

Best Director: Spike Lee Blackkklansman, Pawel Pawlikowski Cold War, Yorgos Lanthimos The Favourite, Alfonso Cuarón Roma, Adam McKay Vice

 

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star Is Born

Best Original Screenplay: First Reformed, Green Book, Roma, The Favourite, Vice

Best Foreign Language Film: Capernaum, Cold War, Never Look Away, Roma, Shoplifters

Best Animated Feature Film: Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Documentary Feature: Free Solo, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, RBG

Best Documentary Short: Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, A Night at the Garden, Period. End of Sentence.

Best Animated Short Film: Animal Behaviour, Bao, Late Afternoon, One Small Step, Weekends

Best Live Action Short Film: Detainment, Fauve, Marguerite, Mother, Skin

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Christian Bale Vice, Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born, Willem Dafoe At Eternity’s Gate, Rami Malek Bohemian Rhapsody, Viggo Mortensen Green Book

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Yalitza Aparicio Roma, Glenn Close The Wife, Lady Gaga A Star Is Born, Olivia Colman The Favourite, Melissa McCarthy Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams Vice, Marina de Tavira Roma, Regina King If Beale Street Could Talk, Emma Stone The Favourite, Rachel Weisz The Favourite

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali Green Book, Adam Driver BlackKKlansman, Sam Elliott A Star Is Born, Richard E. Grant Can You Ever Forgive Me, Sam Rockwell Vice

 

Best Production Design: Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma

Best Cinematography: Cold War, The Favourite, Never Look Away, Roma, A Star Is Born

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Border, Mary Queen of Scots, Vice

Best Costume Design: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Black Panther, The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Film Editing: Blackkklansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book, The Favourite, Vice

Best Sound Editing: A Quiet Place, Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma

Best Sound Mixing: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star Is Born

Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, First Man, Ready Player One, Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Original Score: Black Panther, Blackkklansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song: “All The Stars” – Black Panther, “I’ll Fight” – RBG, “Shallow” – A Star Is Born, “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Mary Poppins Returns, “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

 
 
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