Surprises abounded when Monday's Academy Award nominations were announced, with several films surging ahead in the Oscar race, a number of leading contenders unexpectedly dropping out and at least a few decisions that seem likely to stir controversy.
“Joker,” the R-rated comic-book drama from Dix Hills director Todd Phillips, became the film to beat with 11 nods, while the South Korean thriller comedy “Parasite” continued its unlikely march toward the Oscars with six nominations, including one for best picture. Sam Mendes' war film “1917” capitalized on its surprise win for best dramatic picture at last week's Golden Globes by racking up 10 nominations, the same amount as Martin Scorsese's “The Irishman” and Quentin Tarantino's “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” — a three-way tie of heavyweight films. The Oscars also set up a best picture competition between two filmmakers who are also romantic partners: Greta Gerwig of “Little Women” and Noah Baumbach of “Marriage Story.”
Still, the Oscars are likely to make headlines for their oversights. The most talked-about category may be best directing, where all the nominees are male. Gerwig's lack of a directing nod came as something of a surprise, especially following her nomination for 2017's “Lady Bird.” In fact, the Oscars' directing shortlist turned out to be identical to that of the Globes. “Congatulations to those men,” presenter Issa Rae said pointedly after the names were read.
Along the same lines, the Oscars' acting nominees were less diverse than in past years. Glimmers of color came from British actress Cynthia Erivo, a lead nominee for “Harriet” (and for co-writing the film's original song "Stand Up") and Hispanic actor Antonio Banderas, a lead nominee for “Pain and Glory.” Jennifer Lopez, thought to be a supporting actress contender for her turn as a stripper in “Hustlers,” was snubbed, as was Awkwafina, who won a Golden Globe for her performance in the indie hit “The Farewell.” Awkwafina's absence means the academy missed a chance to nominate its second-ever woman of Asian descent in the lead actress category. (Merle Oberon, nominated for 1935's “The Dark Angel,” remains the only one).
One person celebrating Monday morning was surely Scarlett Johansson, who earned her first two Oscar nominations simultaneously: One for supporting actress in “Jojo Rabbit” and one for lead actress in “Marriage Story.” The dual-category acting nod is a rarity — the last person to earn it was Cate Blanchett for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and “I'm Not There” in 2007 — and no nominee has ever won both together.
The studio with the most to lose this year may be Netflix. The streaming service has been gambling big on Oscar-quality films and almost scored an all-important best picture win with 2018's “Roma,” which lost to “Green Book.” This year, the studio has two critically acclaimed films in contention for the top award: “The Irishman” (which also earned nominations for Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, and for its de-aging visual effects) and “Marriage Story." The strong showings from “Joker,” “1917” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” however — all films from traditional studios — could keep the ultimate Oscar out of Netflix's hands for another year.
"Ford v Ferrari"
"Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood"
Bong Joon Ho, "Parasite"
Sam Mendes, "1917"
Todd Phillips, "Joker"
Martin Scorsese, "The Irishman"
Quentin Tarantino, ""Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood"
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"
Cynthia Erivo, "Harriet"
Scarlett Johanssen, "Marriage Story"
Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women"
Charlize Theron, "Bombshell"
Renée Zellweger, "Judy"
Tom Hanks, "A Berautiful 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"
Kathy Bates, "Richard Jewell"
Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"
Scarlett Johanssen, "Jojo Rabbit"
Florence Pugh, "Little Women"
Margot Robbie, "Bombshell"