10 years ago, Bradley Cooper may as well have been nobody. Then he starred in The Hangover. Then… uh… The Hangover 2. But six brief years since his “serious film” breakout Silver Linings Playbook, the man is now a seven-time Oscar nominee – though perhaps without the category he’d been most favoured for. More on that later.
Alfonso Cuarón goes into this race with an even bigger smile; unlike Cooper, his film hasn’t really seen any loss of momentum. Now Roma boasts 10 Oscar nominations while Cuarón – with Best Cinematography – ties with George Clooney for nods in the most different categories (six!). And the film’s overperformed across the board, although it did lose out on that often crucial Editing nomination. Again, more later.
Alongside Roma, The Favourite has an impressive 10 nominations; just behind these leads are A Star is Born and Vice, with eight; Black Panther with seven; and BlacKkKlansman is on a healthy six. Rounding out the Best Picture category are five-time nominees Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. We’re gonna have a quick trawl through most of the categories, sharing our immediate reactions; check back in a month’s time for an updated look at the field, as well as our annual liveblog/livetweet extravaganza!
Best Animated Feature
The nominees are: Incredibles 2; Isle of Dogs; Mirai; Ralph Breaks the Internet; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Just missed out: n/a
Last year’s list was a doozy. The Boss Baby dived in at the last minute, alongside the likelier (but unlikely) Ferdinand. This year is a little more bog-standard: a Disney film, a Pixar film, an indie (though Isle of Dogs was hardly made on a pittance), and a quality Japanese animation.
Sony have one nomination across the whole board this year, and it’s with the weirdest, funniest, most unlikely, most blatantly innovative release on the table. Forget Wes Anderson’s toy-box; Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, along with Spider-Verse‘s three directors, finally have their Oscar nomination after the LEGO Movie debacle, and this year they’ll be laughing all the way to the… winners’ press conference, probably.
Prediction: The hilarious phrase “And the Oscar goes to… Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!”
Best Foreign Language Film
The nominees are: Capernaum (Lebanon, dir. Nadine Labaki); Cold War (Poland, dir. Paweł Pawlikowski); Never Look Away (Germany, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark); Roma (Mexico, dir. Alfonso Cuarón); Shoplifters (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Just missed out: Ayka (Kazakhstan, dir. Sergey Dvortsevoy); Birds of Passage (Colombia, dir. Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra); Burning (South Korea, dir. Lee Chang-dong); The Guilty (Denmark, dir. Gustav Möller)
There’s always at least one outright surprise in this category, so it seemed bizarre how sewn-up the nominees had seemed to be. And then, boom, there we had it: Lee Chang-dong’s acclaimed, feted Burning was dropped in favour of Never Look Away. It therefore joins the likes of Foxtrot, In the Fade and Force Majeure as sudden Foreign Language also-rans.
Anyway, there’s no way the film with huge support elsewhere isn’t going to win here. Unless the Academy decides to spread the love out to Cold War, it seems this one’s going to Mexico.
Best Documentary Feature
The nominees are: Free Solo; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Minding the Gap; Of Fathers and Sons; RBG
Just missed out: Shirkers; Three Identical Strangers; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Two surprises here, one huge, one… interesting. Firstly, Morgan Neville’s Mr. Rogers study Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which has been hoovering up nominations and wins throughout the season – literally more than any other documentary – has not received an Oscar nod. Neville, a previous winner for 20 Feet from Stardom, had crafted a real crowdpleaser with genuine box-office reach. The Academy’s Documentary branch evidently weren’t feeling it.
The other? No Netflix! In the same year they’ve upped their features game and gotten Roma and Buster Scruggs popping up everywhere like gophers, they’ve finally run empty in Doc Feature, where their best bet was Sandi Tan’s Shirkers. C’est la vie.
This is therefore wide open. RBG is the popular choice, with Free Solo a close second on that front; Hale County might be the best-placed for a win, assuming voters – which can now include the whole Academy membership – bother to really dig into the shortlist, which might be the most delightfully independent in years.
Prediction: Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Best Film Editing
The nominees are: BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown); Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman); The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis); Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito); Vice (Hank Corwin)
Just missed out: A Star is Born (Jay Cassidy); Black Panther (Debbie Berman, Michael P. Shawver); First Man (Tom Cross); Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough); Widows (Joe Walker)
It’s always a little hard to tell where this category’s going. This year, though, it gives a few neat indicators by not going outside the Best Picture group. Basically, Roma should be worried – it’s very difficult to win the top prize without an Editing nod – but then, Birdman won without Editing, so in an age of Oscar rules broken left, right and centre, Cuarón’s no-show here isn’t that significant.
But what could actually win this category? Well, with three assumed favourites out of the running you’d have to default on the most well-liked – that’s The Favourite – or the most, like, edit-y. Which would be either Vice or BlacKkKlansman. And with the latter unlikely to convert any of its other nominations (apart from Screenplay), you’re left with a coin toss between Adam McKay’s complex satire and Yorgos Lanthimos’ smartly paced chamber piece. For now, bet on the one with more nominations.
Prediction: The Favourite
Best Original Score
The nominees are: Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson); BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard); If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell); Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat); Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)
Just missed out: First Man (Justin Hurwitz); A Quiet Place (Marco Beltrami)
Perhaps the Supporting Actress announcement at the start was the first indication that First Man has not just diminished, but positively disappeared from the conversation. Raise a glass to Hurwitz, who prevailed with double honours with La La Land and went in a favourite this year, but who’s come up short.
Nicholas Britell, on the other hand, just flew to the top of rankings, with his second nomination.
Prediction: If Beale Street Could Talk
The nominees are: A Star is Born (Matthew Libatique); Cold War (Łukasz Żal); The Favourite (Robbie Ryan); Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel); Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
Just missed out: Black Panther (Rachel Morrison); First Man (Linus Sandgren); If Beale Street Could Talk (James Laxton)
First up: that Never Look Away nom must be the only one across the board this year to have honestly come from nowhere. Deschanel – whose Hollywood history stretches back to the inaugural AFI Conservatory class, along with one Paul Schrader – is now on his fifth nom, taking over from last year’s winner Roger Deakins as the category’s resident veteran.
More excitingly, Cuarón is the first ever person nominated here for lensing their own film; Steven Soderbergh’s never managed this, and Paul Thomas Anderson missed out for Phantom Thread by refusing to credit himself. Żal and Ryan, on their second and first nominations respectively, are here repping the international arthouse crowd with their exquisite framing, shading and texture while Libatique does the same on a decidedly larger scale.
Overall, an aesthetically strong field with a surprising lack of big, technical achievement-style nominations previously occupied by Dunkirk, Gravity, Hugo and Inception. Cuarón’s work, however, is the clear headliner here, and a clear frontrunner to match his ambition in Pic and, certainly, Director. Could he make four podium trips this year?
Best Adapted Screenplay
The nominees are: A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, Eric Roth); The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen); BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott); Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty); If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
Just missed out: Black Panther (Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler); The Death of Stalin (Peter Fellows, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, David Schneider); First Man (Josh Singer); Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini)
The Coen brothers find themselves with an impressive seventh Screenplay nomination, and more power to them; Buster Scruggs sees them stylisin’ and proselytisin’ at a speed all their own. Next to this delightfully unexpected entry we have four more likely nominees: A Star is Born, holding onto those Best Picture chances by the skin of its teeth; BlacKkKlansman, repping Spike Lee’s second writing nod 30 years after Do the Right Thing; Can You Ever Forgive Me?, somehow marking Nicole Holofcener’s (Please Give, Enough Said) first appearance at the Oscars; and finally Barry Jenkins, looking to go two-for-two after sharing this award for Moonlight two years ago.
It’s a three-way horse between the latter three, but Jenkins, with his Baldwin-derived passion project, may have the edge – if not him, then Lee and team, adapting a work of non-fiction into a searing, direct, surprisingly hilarious and incredibly tense cop thriller. It’s a bit of a coin toss, but a first-time award for Lee – who is unlikely to win as a director or producer this year – seems a better bet.
Prediction: The BlacKkKlansman team
Best Original Screenplay
The nominees are: The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara); First Reformed (Paul Schrader); Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga); Roma (Alfonso Cuarón); Vice (Adam McKay)
Just missed out: A Quiet Place (Scott Beck, John Krasinski, Bryan Woods); Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham)
The usual mix here, with the satisfying sights of Paul Schrader’s first ever nomination, Adam McKay’s continued second life as a satirical maverick, and Deborah Davis finding yet more recognition for a script she started working on some 20 years ago. Green Book slips in on a wave of existing awards recognition, its easygoing social-issue dramedic stylings making it a classic Screenplay nomination.
Ultimately, though, Green Book has hardly had a groundbreaking showing with Oscar; it has a crucial Editing nod, but missed out in Director. You’d have to assume that a quirkier script, for a film leading the nominations, would triumph here – and while Roma shares The Favourite‘s 10 nods, its script is far less obviously writerly.
Prediction: The Favourite
Best Supporting Actor
The nominees are: Mahershala Ali (Green Book); Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman); Sam Elliott (A Star is Born); Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?); Sam Rockwell (Vice)
Just missed out: Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy); Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk); Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther); Daniel Kaluuya (Widows)
A solid, if undernourished, category this year. Timothée Chalamet was considered a favourite, so consider his falling by the wayside to be Supporting Actor’s big firework – even then, it’s not as exciting as at least eight other categories.
Richard E. Grant swaggers in on his first-ever nomination something of a crowdpleasing favourite, as Melissa McCarthy’s boozy comrade in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. He is the closest thing Mahershala Ali has to competition this year; though it was considered a long shot to see him triumph twice in just three years, just look at the competition: Elliott rides in on career goodwill and residual A Star is Born fandom; Driver was never a lock, and Rockwell’s basically a surprise.
Prediction: Mahershala Ali
Best Supporting Actress
The nominees are: Amy Adams (Vice); Marina de Tavira (Roma); Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk); Emma Stone (The Favourite); Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Just missed out: Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place); Claire Foy (First Man)
Perhaps this year’s biggest awards disappointment is a general failure to get behind Beale Street, a film which could well have pulled off nods in all four acting categories. Still, King comes into this the favourite; she won the Globe and gave a much-admired speech; this, just months after a surprise Emmy win for Netflix show Seven Seconds.
Adams has a chance of a steal, but there hasn’t been nearly the same buzz around her actual performance; just a lot of column inches about her overdue factor (she’s on her sixth nomination; it should be her seventh, after her mysterious Arrival snub). This type of talk, particularly concerning a film as divisive as Vice, isn’t half as potent as the passion surrounding King, in a film coming on equally strong for wins in Score and Adapted Screenplay.
Prediction: Regina King
The nominees are: Christian Bale (Vice); Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born); Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate); Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody); Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
Just missed out: Ethan Hawke (First Reformed); John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)
Completely missed out: Steve Carell (Beautiful Boy); Ryan Gosling (First Man); Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased); Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk); Robert Redford (The Old Man and the Gun)
Best Actor wasn’t filled with instant icons this year; Bradley Cooper’s craft is top-notch but made for a performance easily outshone by his co-star and, later in the season, flashier parts from current frontrunners Bale and Malek. Dafoe is a surprise nod, and the far more feted Hawke and Washington would be kicking themselves if they didn’t seem so generally zen.
Either way, Globe winners Bale and Malek go in essentially joined at the hip, both offering clever transformative performances in likely Best Picture also-rans. Malek comes with far more baggage and, it seems, a less-supported film; perhaps voters will go for the convincing Freddie Mercury impression, and his likeable inhabitor, but Bale and his deeper craft (including those 40 extra pounds) just seem a better fit.
Prediction: Christian Bale
The nominees are: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma); Glenn Close (The Wife); Olivia Colman (The Favourite); Lady Gaga (A Star is Born); Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Just missed out: Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
It’s close. Or is it just… Close? She’s on her seventh nomination, and following fairly recent wins for Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett, her exquisite work in The Wife has looked, for ages, best-placed to nab the career victory lap. And, yes, it’s just an amazing, leagues-ahead performance.
But oho, who’s that clutching a Golden Globe in a film with 10 nominations? It’s British acting royalty Olivia Colman, wheeled in with a coterie of rabbits to swoop in on her own “overdue” narrative. She’s a strong second place currently, although the typical thing with acting races is that we all chat about second-placers and stealthy threats but it always goes to the inevitability anyway.
Prediction: Glenn Close
The nominees are: Alfonso Cuarón (Roma); Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite); Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman); Adam McKay (Vice); Paweł Pawlikowski (Cold War)
Just missed out: Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born); Peter Farrelly (Green Book); Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Quite a battle this year, although intriguingly there hasn’t been a big “technical showcase” nomination for once – Cuarón, with his ambitious, widescreen long takes, roughly fits this, but he hardly sits alongside that usual slot for Nolan, Miller, Iñárritu, or indeed Cuarón’s own work on Gravity. Either way, he’s widely predicted to take his second (or third, depending on Cinematography) Oscar here, having hoovered up in precursors, meaning that five of the last six Best Director Oscars will have gone to Mexican men.
Elsewhere, there’s a great nomination for Yorgos Lanthimos, who as a producer and a sort-of, uncredited script person on The Favourite really deserves recognition in the Directing category for making this film so unique. Similarly, Pawlikowski joins Cuarón for his own monochromatic, fiercely personal family tribute. And Spike Lee – remarkably on his first appearance in this category – and Adam McKay round us out in maverick fashion. It’s a really lovely directing category this year that looks more like a critic’s list than an Oscar shortlist.
Prediction: Alfonso Cuarón
The nominees are: A Star is Born; BlacKkKlansman; Black Panther; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Green Book; Roma; Vice
Just missed out: If Beale Street Could Talk; Mary Poppins Returns
Whatever happened to: Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Eighth Grade; First Man; Widows
One suspects Mary Poppins Returns – originally sweeping up Best Picture appearances in the hyperactive wake of its release – ultimately stumbled simply by not having enough nominations elsewhere; otherwise, this is a pretty representative shortlist where no one film has vastly underperformed (compared to past likes of The Post and Selma).
Yet it’s a bizarre mix in its own way. As stated above, there is no big tech-showcase film this year. There’s an effects-driven blockbuster, in the welcome form of Ryan Coogler’s dazzlingly creative Black Panther (and Kevin Feige, 10 years into his MCU experiment, must be beside himself to finally receive a personal nomination as producer); but then there are two crowdpleasing, box office-healthy favourites in A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as TIFF People’s Choice winner Green Book, which made less money but still essentially occupies the same space.
Next to these, you have a kind of bizarro-world version of the usual costumed Brit history, with The Favourite (decidedly more Buñuel than Merchant-Ivory); two Indiewood-ish auteur flicks with BlacKkKlansman and Vice; and a really indie-ish art film in Roma. It’s both the most diverse and the least broad nominations list yet, mostly by virtue of all those crowdpleasers.
Anyway, point is, most of these crowd each other out. Green Book was our favourite going into the nominations this morning, but then Roma picked up those unexpected (and welcome!) nods in both Actress categories, indicating its base is really rallying around it. There’s still plenty to play for given Best Picture’s preferential ballot – but then, if there’s one recent Oscar film that Roma most seems to resemble, it’s the one that probably benefited the most from that system: Moonlight. Here’s to the latest in a growing line of genuinely exciting Best Picture winners, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Fingers crossed!
We’ll be liveblogging the 91st Oscars ceremony from 1:00am GMT on Feb 25. Join us for jokes, GIFs, observations and an updated version of this list!