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Opinion: The 2019 Oscar nominations full of snubs, surprises amid awards season

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2019 Oscars

2019 Oscar nominees were released Jan. 22.

Every year the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, come out with its list of nominations that highlight some of the year’s best films, performances and technical work. The Oscars, who just revealed their nominations early Tuesday morning, are highly competitive and very political.

This means that a film or person that ran a better campaign may take a nomination, or even a win, over an objectively better film or performance. That being said, sometimes the Oscars throw in a few good surprises along the way. 2019 is no exception, as there are many films and performances that are left off of their list.

Snub, Best Supporting Actor: Timothée Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”

Timothée Chalamet is an actor that is just extraordinary for his age, or any age for that matter. At just 23 years old, Chalamet already has one Oscar nomination under his belt for last year’s “Call Me by Your Name.” After a glaring loss to Gary Oldman last year for his role in “Darkest Hour,” Chalamet was declared an early frontrunner for the category; indeed, the early bird does not always get the worm.

He delivered a raw and nuanced performance as a young man struggling with a crippling addiction to drugs in “Beautiful Boy.” Chalamet is the type of actor that lives in his roles and fully embodies every character. If anyone deserved a nomination, or even a win for that matter, it was Chalamet.

Surprise, Best Picture: “Black Panther”

On the bright side, “Black Panther” made history, yet again, garnering multiple nominations this year. “Black Panther” is not only an amazing film, but also the beginning of a film movement: one that speaks of inclusivity and change. “Black Panther” showed the world that you do not need to have a cast full of white people to start a billion dollar franchise within a franchise. What matters is the story and how it’s told. “Black Panther” will go down in history for its nomination. Typically, films with dominantly white casts get nominations. That is not the case this year.

Snub, Best Documentary Feature: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Fred Rogers was an illuminating figure who brought light and kindness into the hearts of children and adults alike for generations. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the kind of film that can have you laughing one moment and blubbering like a baby the next. This film has won most of the precursor awards up to this point, such as the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award, and frankly, stands out as one of the most shocking snubs of the year.

Surprise, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress: Yalitza Aparicio and Marina De Tavira, “Roma”

“Roma” is one of the best and most-talked-about films of 2018. The film has been lauded for the incredible writing, directing and cinematography done by the visionary Alfonso Cuarón.

Cuarón won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film and director but was unable to compete in Best Motion Picture - Drama. Yalitza Aparicio and Marina De Tavira were seemingly left in the dust by all the technical achievements this beautiful foreign film had to offer. What's even more surprising is that this film was Aparicio’s acting debut.

Snub, Multiple Categories: “Crazy Rich Asians”

“Crazy Rich Asians” is another film that defied expectations at the box office this year that also begs for change when it comes to representation in film. This wonderfully crafted romantic comedy breathed new life into a subgenre that had long been filled with duds. “Crazy Rich Asians” was snubbed in numerous categories including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Adapted Screenplay and Production Design. Maybe the Academy can make up these snubs by having the cast host this year’s ceremony?

Surprise, Multiple Categories: “Cold War”

“Cold War” is a beautifully polished film from Poland that started garnering more attention in the awards season in late 2018, and it is probably the closest thing to competition “Roma” has. However, “Cold War” stuck to the foreign film category thus far at other award ceremonies, even being snubbed at a Golden Globes. What wasn’t anticipated was its nominations for Best Director and Best Cinematography, which up until Tuesday morning, were nominations that were considered a lock for “A Star is Born” and “First Man,” respectively.

Snub, Best Director: Bradley Cooper, “A Star is Born”

Bradley Cooper stunned audiences worldwide with his directorial debut, “A Star is Born.” For a first-time director, Cooper seemed to have the knowledge many directors do not get until their fourth or fifth films. Maybe his greenness is what scared the Academy. “A Star is Born” has been the frontrunner in virtually every category up until now, according to Gold Derby. Is it losing steam? We will have to wait until Oscar night to find out.

Surprise, Best Cinematography: “Never Look Away”

“Never Look Away” has been an outlier of the foreign film category for a while. Many pundits thought the film would be considered lucky to even score a nomination in the foreign film category. However, when it comes to cinematography, “Never Look Away” didn’t seem to be in any of the major conversations on sites like Variety and Gold Derby.

Snub, Multiple Categories: Claire Foy, Ryan Gosling, Damien Chazelle, Linus Sandgren and Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”

“First Man” was a surprisingly divisive movie in 2018 — most critics loved it, while a lot of audiences disagreed. That being said, “First Man” is a meticulously crafted cinematic experience, with stunning effects, incredible sound design, impeccable direction, a beautiful score and stellar performances. This year, the Academy Awards overlooked both Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy for their performances. Gosling was stoic and reserved in his portrayal of Neil Armstrong, and Foy, his wife, was the film’s beating heart. The film was overlooked for its directing and cinematography, but most glaring was its vacancy in the Best Original Score category, which Justin Hurwitz was deemed the early victor. Hurwitz’s score won the Golden Globe and seemingly enhanced the drama and the narrative of the film with every note.

Surprise, Best Picture: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

I don’t even want to talk about this. “Bohemian Rhapsody” had some great performances, but was not at all worthy of a Best Picture nominations. The film took many liberties with the story, had extremely rushed pacing and was emotionally muted.

Snub, Best Actress: Emily Blunt, Toni Collette, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts

To say that the Best Actress race this year was competitive would be an understatement. Emily Blunt, Toni Collette, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts crafted breathtaking performances in their respective films this year. Everyone deserved a nomination, but with such a competitive category this year, these women didn’t make the cut.


The Academy Awards will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. Feb. 24.

Seth Stuart is a film and media studies senior and a culture reporter for The Daily.

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