While it's refreshing to see two genuinely brilliant films sweep the boards on Oscar (nominations) day - Yogos Lanthimos and Olivia Coleman's period drama hoot The Favourite and Alfonso Cuarón's family drama masterpiece Roma - it goes without saying that, in other respect, the 91st Academy Awards are already a big fat disappointment.
So allow us to get in nice and early on the annual sport of pointing out just what the stuffy, out-of-touch, probably-bribed voters in Hollywood have got wrong about this year's cinematic releases.
Claire Foy missing out on a 'Best Supporting Actress' for First Man
Coming off the back of his hugely successful (and 12-time Oscar nominated) La La Land, Damien Chazelle reuniting with Ryan Gosling to make a biopic about Neil Armstrong seemed a surefire success. Instead First Man appears to have totally run out of steam going into award season after an unsuccessful Box Office run and middling reviews. No real shock then that it missed out on 'Best Picture' or 'Best Director', but what is a travesty is Claire Foy's lack of recognition for her performance.
Playing Armstrong's long-suffering wife Janet, Foy gives a wonderfully restrained performance where a lesser actor would have tipped into the cliché of the shrill, nagging wife. She does so much with so little in terms of screen time and dialogue. In one scene, she waits by the phone for a call to confirm her husband is safe and you can see every worst-case scenario as it goes through her mind.
Incidentally, First Man was also robbed for 'Best Original Score'.
Timothée Chalamet robbed of 'Best Supporting Actor' for 'Beautiful Boy'
After becoming the youngest actor in 80 years to be nominated for 'Best Actor' last year, all eyes were on Timmy C to see if the young hearth-throb could do the double.Despite aiming for 'Best Supporting Actor' this year for his performance in Beautiful Boy, Chalamet failed as did the film with zero nominations. The drama, about a young man's spiral into crystal meth addiction does stray into some clichés about addiction, but Chalamet's performance is The Real Deal. A snub that poses the question of what to do with a great performance in a mediocre film.
Toni Collette's 'Best Actress' snub for 'Hereditary'
While The Silence of the Lambs is the last - and only - horror film to ever win 'Best Picture' (fun fact!), you don't need to look that far into the past to see the Oscar's difficulty with the genre. Last year Get Out failed to win 'Best Picture' despite being the cultural talking point of the year and spawning a new sub-genre of its own. This year, Ari Aster's terrifying Hereditary had a similarly visceral reaction from audiences and, arguably even more so than Get Out, featured a performance more than worthy of a nomination.
Toni Collette's twisted, screaming, sweating face not only launched a thousand memes but encapsulates the bodily horror of grief so perfectly, it's hard to look at her.
Ethan Hawke being shut out for 'Best Actor' for 'First Reformed'
The 'Best Actor' category is a weird bunch this year with Christian Bale looking likely to secure the prize despite Vice polarising audiences and critics alike. Though it's good to see the acting talent of Lucas Hedges and Willem Dafoe rewarded, not selecting Ethan Hawke's performance in First Reformed feels like a big oversight.
Playing Reverend Ernst Toller, a priest on the edge, you can see the the toll of alcoholism and a life of service to the Church in every tightly controlled body movements and furrow of his brow. It's a singular, unforgettable turn. Then again, it's no Bradley Cooper wetting his pants at an award show, which is apparently what the Academy wants to see.
The total dearth of female nominees for 'Best Director' and 'Best Picture'
Now let's get down to the real scandal of Oscars 2019. These nominations confirm that Kathryn Bigelow is going to hold onto her title of being the only woman to ever win a 'Best Director' Oscar. What's even more unforgivable given is that not a single female-directed film was nominated for 'Best Picture', nor did any female get a nomination for 'Best Director'.
Marie Heller's excellently scripted and brilliantly executed Can You Ever Forgive Me? scored nominations for screenplay (and individual performances from Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy), but missed out on the marquee prizes. Meanwhile Josie Rourke's Mary Queen of Scots which paints the tension between the two Queens in bold, bright colours failed to get a nod beyond costume and make-up categories. (Read: It looks pretty but is it really art, ladies?). And if these aren't high-brow enough for the Academy, there's also Claire Denis' Cannes prize-winning Let the Sunshine In about a middle-aged divorced mother - easily one of the 10 best films of the year.
While Roma and The Favourite put women at the forefront of their films, the truth is the Academy still values stories about women told by men more than those told by women themselves, showing how far Hollywood still has to go.
From: Esquire UK