The Academy Awards announced the list of nominees yesterday and everyone is mad about it. I haven’t met one person who is entirely happy about the list although I am not entirely looking for. But going by the stuff on my timeline and offline, real-life, everyone is moaning. We do this every single year. The Oscars release their nominees and we cry foul. The awards are given and we cry harder. It is part of the ritual of one of the most glamorous awards on the planet. Every single year. Oscar 2020 Nominations didn’t disappoint. And we are right most of the time, some of us – the Oscar sucks.
Here are five people they snubbed which confirms everything we know.
Robert De Niro for Lead Actor
After I finished watching “The Irishman” I sat on the computer listening to “In The Still of the Night” as the credits roll, my hand supporting my head as I thought about life, death, and old age in that particular order and anyhow. The movie moved me so much and Robert De Niro’s role is intertwined with the greatness of the movie. He was confident, he was relatable, he was true to his acts. He gave an A-performance.
But Hollywood is full of masters and every one of them cannot possibly be nominated. This is where we look at the impact of the films. “The Irishman” is one of the best movies that was made in 2009. Not top 10 good, more like top 3. A great movie is not always as a result of great lead acting. But “The Irishman” is a result of great acting and it is hard to think of the power of “The Irishman” without the Irishman in Robert De Niro. He was hot.
I think it was in Varierty.com that I read that the fact that Al Pacino and Joe Pesci where so good could work against De Niro. I considered it a possibility but I didn’t think Oscar would sacrifice the Irishman himself in other to create balance in their list. Robert De Niro was sacrificed and what might turn out to be his best last performance will not be honored on the biggest stage. It hurts. The fact that both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild didn’t nominate her doesn’t make it less painful.
Taika Waititi for Best Director
Scarlett Johansson was nominated for supporting actress for her great role in “Jojo Rabbits” and rightly so. She was the only one to get an award for acting in “Jojo Rabbit”. I am not very surprised because Oscar are usually reluctant to nominate children actors that is the only explanation (not good enough) as to why Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKensie, and Archie Yates were overlooked. I am not that surprised. I am a little surprised, however, that Sam Rockwell didn’t get a nomination – as Captain Klenzendorf – he was funny, he was sincere, he was humane. Letting Elsa Korr and then Jojo get out of the hooks in dire moments is something the character should be proud of and many will remember Rockwell with. He was ignored.
Will there be The Accountant 2?
But why ignore Taika Waititi. He made a great movie and his name should be up there. Nine films made Best Picture Nominees and there are only five slots for directors. Looking at the list of directors, it is hard to remove anyone for Waititi to come in. Sam Mendes made “1917” so he is untouchable. Quentin Tarantino is on the verge of resigning and he never took home the awards despite been one of the best directors in the past decade and a half. I understand the inclusion of the “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho and Martin Scorsese for “The Irishman”. Todd Philip for making a beautiful mess in “Joker” should stay but if I must, I will remove him and replace him with Waititi. Or I will just pick Waititi first and let the Academy guys pick the other four.
Taika Waititi assembled a group of children actors who wowed us none of whom Oscar chose to honor. Why not then honor the man who brought them together and directed them? Ignoring Waititi is painful.
Lupita Nyong’o for Best Actress
Just after the nominees were made public, one of the sub-trending topics was #OscarSoWhite. During the Golden Globe, the host Ricky Gervais touched on the lack of diversity by joking that the recent deaths in Hollywood weren’t diverse enough. Only white people seem to be dying. Only white people seem to be nominated in Oscars. This is not necessarily because of racism, it is mostly because of the lack of opportunity for people of color in the industry. Oscar tries to represent the best in a given year – these are largely the best because the movie industry is so white. There is nothing wrong with using the buzz of the Oscars to call and create more opportunities for actors of color. But asking that entertainers of color be given awards/nominations base on the color of their skin is politics of compensation and not of merit, it is hiding the truth of a heavily white industry with a diverse award stage.
So we will resist the temptation of making this section about race. Those who are angry about Oscar been so white mostly point at “Hustlers” and “The Farewell” to make their point. I have written that I expected Jennifer Lopez to be nominated for Supporting Actress mostly because of the buzz her performance generated rather for the height of the performance itself. I told her not to expect to win it and she wasn’t even nominated. I am not surprised. “The Farewell” was good and I expected at least Awkwafina to be nominated. It was a 50-50 thing because, frankly, her character didn’t blow me away.
Here are 2020 Movies schedules
Lupita Nyong’o ought to have been nominated for “Us”. Horror might not be your thing but there is no denying that Jordan Peele’s creation was lite and Lupita killed. Lupita is not part of the nomination. And it hurts mostly because Nyong’o played to different characters. She portrayed the characters of Adelaide and her evil doppelganger, Red. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were going to get a run for their money but who would have thought it would come from a woman of color?
And it is easy to say who Nyong’o can replace. Charlize Theron shouldn’t be here. I understand that the Academy Awards wants to use “Bombshell” to make a strong statement against sexual harassment in the highest places. In that case, they should have nominated it for Best Picture. Theron took Lupita’s slot. This is not to say that Theron shouldn’t be nominated for anything – she should have been nominated for Lead Actress in A Documentary Movie for that is what “Bombshell” is.
Specially mentioned snubs
2019 was the best year for Hollywood. So many films were done by women more than at any time in the world. And some of the best films critically and commercially have women behind them, movies such as “Little Women” directed by Greta Gerwig, “Hustlers” directed by Lorene Scafaria, “Booksmart” by Olivia Wilde, and “Queen and Slim” by Melina Matsoukas were really good. Many expected that at least one of these women would be nominated. None are. I am not overly disappointed with this mostly because according to Refinery29, despite the surge in women directors, they only made 10% of the top 100 movies of 2019. Gerwig’s “Little Women” made the cut for Best Picture. One out of nine. She didn’t make the Best Director’s cut which had only five slots. It seems like fair play but it doesn’t feel right.
Actors of color
We can’t let this one go. The biggest surprise of this year’s nomination is “Parasite” a Korean movie. It earned noms for Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Production Design. It has been raining in Korea since yesterday. But even the wins for “Parasite” is not enough to shrug off the feeling of disappointment in many as there were great performances by persons of color. We have already mentioned Lupita.
Also snubbed include Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name, Jamie Foxx from “Just Mercy”, Beyonce for her voice role in “The Lion King”, Zhao Shuzhen and Awkwafina from “The Farewell”, Jennifer Lopez for her show-stealing performance in “Hustlers” top the list of snubbed persons of color in Hollywood.
How didn’t “Frozen II” make the cut for Best Feature in the animated category? HOW?!
Image sources: The Independent and Variety
Kingsley, Lola P, KC, and Victor Umunna contributed to this post.