Biggest Snubs (in order from most to least egregious)
1. First Reformed – Actor
The one to get angry about. Hawke, who’s been nominated as Supporting Actor twice, is giving the best performance of his career here. The film barely squeaked in for a much-deserved Original Screenplay nod, but if you had to honor the film in just one category, it’s here, especially in an otherwise meh field.
2. First Man – Picture, Directing, Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Cinematography
It was a long shot for anything beyond technical categories, but my No. 2 film of the year just got shit on. No major nominations, plus baffling omissions for Justin Hurwitz’s incredible score and Linus Sandgren’s breathtaking cinematography. That both men just won two years ago for La La Land is especially disconcerting.
3. If Beale Street Could Talk – Picture, Directing, Cinematography
At least it survived a scare for Supporting Actress. Regina King seems poised to win her first (and hopefully not last) Oscar. But Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to 2016’s Best Picture winner was sadly ignored. Part of the blame lies at distributor Annapurna’s feet. Their intra-company chaos led to delays and a lack of budget for a proper awards push. The film deserved to top-line these awards, but snubbing James Laxton’s sumptuous cinematography is inexcusable.
4. Eighth Grade – Original Screenplay, Actress
With WGA and DGA nods for writer-director Bo Burnham and a Golden Globe nod for Elsie Fisher, it seemed like this insightful coming-of-age story would get some Oscar glory. But alas, the mostly old crop of voters didn’t go for this very Gen Z story. (Josh Hamilton would have been a nice surprise in an extremely stacked Supporting Actor race, too.)
5. Blindspotting and Sorry to Bother You – Original Screenplay
How do you look at two of the most provocative films about race this year and nominate fuckin’ Green Book?
6. Three Identical Strangers and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Documentary Feature
Consistently one of the hardest categories to predict, this branch left out two of the biggest docs ever. There’s been some increasingly vocal anti-Three Identical Strangers talk (which I don’t understand, but it’s there), but ignoring the example of Mister Rogers – especially in a time when cruelty seems pervasive and kindness seems absent – is very un-neighborly.
7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Film Editing, Sound Editing
This enduring franchise somehow hasn’t gotten a single nomination. These endlessly entertaining films deserve some tech recognition at the least. But nothing. Not for the intense motorcycle chase or the brutal bathroom fight.
8. Burning – Foreign Language Film, Supporting Actor
I had predicted it would miss, especially in a strong crop. I haven’t seen all the nominees (two I don’t think have even gotten U.S. releases yet), but while I can conceive of a world where one or two foreign language films are superior, I cannot fathom a world where five foreign language films are.
9. Suspiria – Costume Design, Original Song, Make-up and Hairstyling, Supporting Actress
I jokingly tweeted I would wear that red rope outfit and dance if this got a single nomination. Not having to do that is the only silver lining here. Even if you’re not on the film’s wavelength (or think the additional historical subplots Kajganich and Guadagnino add are bullshit), you can’t deny the technical craft. The costumes and make-up are absolutely worthy of a nomination, and Thom Yorke’s song (but somehow not his score) was shortlisted, so voters were at least considering it. And of course, Tilda Swinton deserved another nomination.
10. Leave No Trace – Picture, Directing, Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay
There was some hope that Debra Granik could sneak into the Adapted Screenplay field, but the Coen Brothers took that fifth slot. Still, this was one of 2018’s most quietly devastating films, and it deserved to be in the conversation more than at least three of the Best Picture nominees. And this should have been Thomasin Mackenzie’s coming out party, even if putting her in Supporting Actress is the most appalling case of category fraud ever.
11. Annihilation – Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, Picture, Directing
It was shortlisted for Original Score, and that would have been its sole nomination. But oh what could have been. This mesmerizing sci-fi tale is going to be remembered a lot more than many of these nominees.
12. Widows and The Death of Stalin – Adapted Screenplay
It’s still crazy to me that Widows went from multi-nominated sure thing to a big fat goose egg in just a couple months. I don’t know what the Academy has against Gillian Flynn, but this is her second miss for writing. The Death of Stalin at least had some precedent, as In the Loop was nominated here nine years ago, despite no precursors. These would have been nice consolation prizes for two of the year’s best ensembles.
13. A Private War, Hereditary and Support the Girls – Actress
Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette and Regina Hall didn’t have a chance in hell, and I don’t begrudge any of the women nominated, but this category could have been a hell of a lot more interesting.
14. Game Night – Supporting Actor
Oh, Jesse Plemons. Someday they’ll invite you to their party. Maybe you just need to orchestrate your own game so they’ll include you.
15. Free Solo – Cinematography
It was the longest of long shots. But this documentary deserved to be the very first nominated for Cinematography. Its breathtaking shots of Alex Honnold’s ascent up El Capitan was one of the year’s most stunning technical achievements.
Most Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order)
Marina de Tavira nominated for Supporting Actress
Though Roma somehow missed a Film Editing nomination, I was so happy to see Marina de Tavira honored here. While Aparicio is the heart of the movie, de Tavira’s mother is a vital part of the family story.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs nominated for Costume Design, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song
While making my final picks, I initially had this down for two awards, before nixing it from both. So imagine my surprise when it picked both back up, plus a nod for the Coens’ magnificent writing. Since winning their second Oscar for No Country for Old Men, they’d only been nominated for True Grit and, uh, Bridge of Spies. No Burn After Reading or Inside Llewyn Davis. So this is a most welcome nomination.
Green Book snubbed for Directing
It still got way more nominations than it should have (only Ali deserves recognition), but at least the directors’ branch knew better. Even as they snubbed several deserving ladies and people of color, at least they didn’t put up the guy who directed Hall Pass.
First Reformed nominated for Original Screenplay
I was predicting a miss, especially since it came up short at the Writers Guild. But Paul Schrader, a man with a 45-year career, finally got his first nomination. He’s a prickly guy who said some questionable things on the campaign trail this year, but he finally got his due.
Adam Driver nominated for Supporting Actor
It does seem a little odd that history is repeating itself. Nearly 30 years later, Spike Lee’s incendiary film about race relations is facing off against a crowd-pleasing film about race relations. And once again his script is nominated, as is his white supporting actor is the film’s lone acting nomination. But at least this time Black Klansman is also up for Best Picture, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design and Original Score. Driver is the most interesting young actor in Hollywood right now, top-lining the biggest franchise on the planet, and working with auteurs like Jim Jarmusch and the Coens, and legends like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. And he’s only 35. This was a long time coming.