The nominations were announced today in a wonderfully efficient way by the always awesome Academy and its two hosts, John Cho and Issa Rae. Many are disappointed that Jennifer Lopez did not make it in for Hustlers or that Lupita Nyong’o was omitted for Us — both actresses were nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award, but were left off the Academy’s list.
There is a lot of outrage for Greta Gerwig being left off Best Director, despite her not having a Globe, a BAFTA, a DGA nomination, or any SAG nominations for the film. Many critics put all of their chips behind Gerwig, with the National Society of Film Critics giving their Best Director prize to her over Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, and others. They pushed as hard as they could, but in the end, the Academy’s directing branch picked their five most admired directors for the films that got the most nominations.
The clickbait headline is that women were shut out again and how unfair that was. This is what people believe because this is what the headlines tell them and, in fact, what critics have told them. You would need a much more nuanced conversation to understand why this happened the way it did, and the number one reason is that there were a lot of really great films this year.
I don’t see Gerwig missing as a snub, even though that’s the clickbait for the day. The bigger news, I think, is that Gerwig becomes only the second female director to have more than one film nominated for Best Picture. That is kind of amazing. But to me, a snub is like Steven Spielberg not getting a Best Director nomination for The Color Purple, or Ron Howard not getting in for Apollo 13, or Ben Affleck not getting in for Argo. It is not Greta Gerwig, who had not placed anywhere except on the lists of film critics for Little Women. Heck, Noah Baumbach had a better shot at it, considering Marriage Story did have a Best Picture nomination at the Globes. Not to mention there’s Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit, which has a DGA nomination.
Greta Gerwig enjoys a level of attention other female directors don’t have because she’s already famous. She’s on the cover of magazines, featured on talk shows, beloved on Twitter. Most female directors don’t get anywhere near that kind of attention, so to complain about this so-called snub is, well — unseemly — all things considered.
But there is no need to go on and on about it — I would say that it’s great she got a writing nomination and it’s for Best Picture, among other nominations. I would focus on celebrating that rather than ripping into a tirade against the Academy, especially since so many other women directed exceptional movies this year and were shut out, even when their films made a lot of money — like Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), and Alma Har’el (Honey Boy).
I think the acting frontrunners remain solid:
Joaquin Phoenix for Joker — he can’t lose
Renée Zellweger for Judy — seems solid
Laura Dern for Marriage Story — seems to be on the way towards a clean sweep
Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — seems to be also headed for a clean sweep
Three of these frontrunners are in Best Picture nominees. That might lead some to question Zellweger’s spot. How many other Best Actress contenders are in Best Picture nominees?
Saoirse Ronan — Little Women
Scarlett Johansson — Marriage Story
That’s it. Two. The other three are in movies without Best Picture nominations. Last year, Olivia Colman won The Favourite its only Oscar when up against Glenn Close for The Wife. This could lead some to speculate as to whether Zellweger could be upset by one of the two above. But these two films are more likely to be winning other Oscars, unlike The Favourite.
Best Picture and Best Director are still wide open.
It should be noted that the stats champ right now is The Irishman. It’s the only one so far that has every requisite nomination we usually look for in a Best Picture winner:
— Came out early
— Globes Director, Picture, Screenplay
— SAG ensemble
— Eddie / Oscar nomination for editing
— Oscar nominations for acting, directing, and writing
The others put us into a stat-busting zone, which can happen in a given year (especially if recent history is a guide):
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — has everything except the Oscar nod for editing
Parasite — has everything except acting nominations
Jojo Rabbit — has everything except Oscar nom for directing
1917 — has everything except SAG ensemble, Oscar editing nom (which might not matter), plus Oscar noms for acting
Joker — has everything except DGA and SAG ensemble nomination
These are the factors still in play:
- The shortened season. As you can see, things are moving really really fast. With not a lot of time for voters to contemplate or even to watch movies, it’s just boom boom boom. We don’t know if this will translate into one movie just winning everything or if awards will be split among several top favorites.
- The Netflix factor. Is it even a factor? 24 nominations overall? Two Best Picture nominations, two Best Actor nominations? We don’t know yet.
- The presidential election is bearing down. Next month is the first primary contest, along with the Oscars. How does this play into what is winning? It’s hard to say, but it’s something to consider.
Each of the six films that are dominating the race all speak to the moment. When the Producers Guild votes (polls close on January 16 — this Thursday!), they will turn in one winner at the top. Will that winner continue to have the requisite momentum necessary to keep the train rolling (i.e., not be The Big Short)? The PGA announces this Saturday, January 18; the very next day, SAG will announce its ensemble prize. Will the winners be the same movies? Different movies?
The DGA is the following weekend, then the BAFTAs, then the Oscars. It is happening THAT FAST. The final Oscar ballot deadline is two days after the BAFTA awards. By then, Oscar voters will have a very good idea of whether this race has a frontrunner or whether it’s wide open.
Here are a couple of ways things could be screwy, just for kicks:
- PGA goes to 1917, but it can’t win SAG so Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wins SAG. Then it’s a stalemate again, as with the Globes. However, something to note: in the era of the expanded ballot, the only movie to win both the Globe and the PGA that did not go on to win Best Picture was — La La Land. And what La La Land has in common with 1917 is that neither had a SAG ensemble nomination. Still, winning both the Globe and the PGA could set 1917 up to be an unstoppable force. Green Book also won Best Picture when it won the Globe and the PGA but didn’t have an ensemble nod.
- Parasite takes PGA and SAG — it’s all over but the shouting.
- Once Upon a Time takes PGA and SAG — it’s all over but the shouting and follows the rule from above.
- Jojo Rabbit takes PGA and SAG — it’s all over but the shouting.
The lesson here is that PGA almost always means more when paired with something else, like DGA or Globe or SAG. To win both PGA and SAG in the era of the preferential ballot puts you in unstoppable category:
The King’s Speech
No SAG ensemble nomination, but if you win the PGA and DGA — that’s either The Shape of Water or La La Land
No SAG ensemble nomination, but you win the PGA only — that puts you in Green Book territory.
So you can see how important this weekend’s guild awards will be.
That’s all I got for now, folks. What a day.