With so many contenders who had hovered around the cusp completely out of the running, let’s break down which exclusions are most glaring.
After presenting the best director category, presenter Issa Rae quipped, “Congratulations to those men,” recalling Natalie Portman’s oft-referenced introduction while presenting the “all-male nominees” at the Golden Globes ceremony two years ago.
Four names were more or less cemented ahead of Monday morning’s nominations: Martin Scorsese for “The Irishman,” Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite” and Sam Mendes for “1917.” Many had hoped Greta Gerwig, who earned a directing nomination two years ago for her solo debut, “Lady Bird,” would again appear for her critically acclaimed adaptation of “Little Women.” But the fifth slot went to Todd Phillips, whose box-office juggernaut “Joker” landed the most nominations of any project despite being one of the year’s most divisive films.
There weren’t too many other women who stood a chance in this arena, though it’s worth noting that Marielle Heller, who has delivered two Oscar-caliber films with this season’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and last year’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” is consistently snubbed. Tom Hanks, who was nominated for his supporting role as Mister Rogers in the former film, told the New York Times he wanted to work with Heller after reading a story that inspired him to work with more female directors and, then, seeing her debut film, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”
Supporting actress Jennifer Lopez
Was J-Lo ever really going to win an Oscar? Well, no, probably not. But that didn’t stop the hype machine from going into overdrive over her captivating role in “Hustlers” as Ramona, the ringleader of a group of strippers who start drugging wealthy clients to steal their credit cards. (Her pole-dancing scene instantly became legendary and probably immediately caused a spike in moviegoers googling her age. She’s 50, for the record.) Alas, despite earning nods for a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award, an Academy Award nomination was not in the cards — and the writing seemed to be on the wall as the buzz for other actresses grew louder throughout award season. Still, quite a few people were very angry:
Lead actors Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler
This past year saw two comedic icons — both with track records of making films torn apart by critics — give award-worthy performances. And they were totally snubbed by the voting academy.
Eddie Murphy was literally and metaphorically hanging out on his couch the past few years, but decided to return to the spotlight for what he has called his “bookend” period. “I don’t want to sit on the couch after ‘Mr. Church,’” he told the New York Times, referring to the 2016 drama. And while Murphy received a best actor nod at the Globes for playing blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore in “Dolemite Is My Name,” he got no love from the academy.
Sandler, who previously offered nuanced performances in “Punch-Drunk Love” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” joked that if he didn’t get awards consideration for “Uncut Gems,” he would return to making terrible movies “on purpose just to make you all pay.” So expect that.
“The Farewell” and star Awkwafina
Though industry awards tend to more reliably predict Oscar nominations than the Golden Globes, it’s still worth noting that Awkwafina, who took home a Globe for her lead performance in “The Farewell,” was snubbed in the Oscars’ best actress category. As Billi, an American woman who travels to China to say goodbye to her ailing grandmother, Awkwafina left her comedy roots behind to try her hand at a dramatic role — a successful effort, according to critics.
“The Farewell” has earned a number of acting, writing and best picture nominations at other ceremonies, but wasn’t at all embraced by the academy. Writer-director Lulu Wang stood a decent chance of landing an original screenplay nomination, while Shuzhen Zhao, who plays Billi’s grandmother, has been recognized by a slew of critics awards. (Zhao’s chances, however, were much slimmer.)
Lupita Nyong’o in “Us”
Horror movies notoriously have a difficult time at the Oscars, but it was hard to stop thinking about Lupita Nyong’o’s unsettling double role in the psychological thriller “Us.” But even though plenty of critics felt that Nyong’o deserved the nomination alongside front-runners such as Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”) and Renée Zellweger (“Judy”), it unfortunately wasn’t a huge surprise when she was left off the list — although it certainly angered plenty of fans, particularly because Johansson got two separate nods (the other for “Jojo Rabbit”).
People of color, in general
The Oscar nominations aren’t as devoid of diversity as last week’s backlash-inducing BAFTA nominations, which included not a single actor of color. But people of color are still overwhelmingly underrepresented among this year’s slate of nominees.
One of the more glaring omissions — aside from Awkwafina and J-Lo — is the academy’s failure to nominate renowned costume designer Ruth E. Carter for “Dolemite Is My Name.” Carter made history last year as the first black costume designer to win her craft’s most prestigious award for “Black Panther.” (Her longtime collaborator Spike Lee is probably not very happy right now.)
I am legitimately on fire over the Oscar snubs to Awkwafina, The Farewell; J’Lo, Hustlers; and Greta Gerwig, Little Women. Change the Oscar voting pool now. I’m so tired of seeing the same half dozen old men winning awards for the same story on repeat. K bye.— Lorraine Cink 🌈 (@lorrainecink) January 13, 2020
The lead and supporting actor categories are dominated by white men. The lead actress category, meanwhile, includes a nod for Cynthia Erivo, the British actress who somewhat controversially portrayed Harriet Tubman in a long-awaited biopic. But Erivo’s nod underscores the idea that actors of color only win praise for playing certain types of roles. (Remember how Jadakiss pointed this out back in 2004?). Nyong’o, whose devilishly dual role was left out of the running this year, famously won an Oscar in 2014 for portraying a slave in Steve McQueen’s period drama “12 Years a Slave.”
“Y’all love your black women in the key of slave narrative over there in Hollywood,” one social media user tweeted Monday, noting that Nyong’o technically played two roles in one film.
The academy could have surprised Oscar viewers by honoring bolder choices — the polarizing romantic drama “Queen and Slim” or Jamie Foxx’s SAG-nominated performance in “Just Mercy” — for example. But that seems too much to ask for a ceremony that gave its top honor last year to “Green Book.”
A few good men
It would have been a shock at this point if Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver and Leonardo DiCaprio weren’t recognized for their performances in “Joker,” “Marriage Story” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” respectively, making the last two best actor slots all the more interesting. Antonio Banderas has consistently been in the mix for his role in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” a Spanish film nominated in the international feature category; “The Two Popes” actor Jonathan Pryce has been as well, nominated alongside scribe Anthony McCarten and supporting actor Anthony Hopkins.
Two big-name actors nominated elsewhere but snubbed by the academy include Robert De Niro, the anchor of Martin Scorsese’s crime drama “The Irishman,” and Christian Bale, who plays a racecar driver in James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” which fared quite well in the technical categories. Taron Egerton, who campaigned like crazy for his performance as Elton John in “Rocketman,” won a Golden Globe but, alas, isn’t in contention for an Oscar.
Documentary “Apollo 11”
The best feature documentary category may have given some predictable love to “American Factory,” the Netflix documentary produced by the Obamas’ production company, but nothing for the one documentary considered the front-runner to win: “Apollo 11.” Todd Douglas Miller used archival footage, including images never seen before by the public, to depict the Apollo 11 moon landing. It had an impressive haul for a documentary, earning $15 million worldwide at the box office, and won the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. documentary grand jury prize.
But this category can be wild. Last year, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was thought to be the movie to beat. The critically acclaimed feature about Fred Rogers earned $22 million at the box office, the most of any documentary in 2018, showing that there is still a strong appetite from the moviegoing public for heartwarming stories about real people who are actually kind. But, stunningly, it didn’t receive an Oscar nomination.
Earworm supplier “Frozen II”
The sequel to Disney’s beloved, Oscar-winning 2013 film about a princess trying to reunite with her estranged ice crystal-wielding sister has received mixed reviews, but we still expected to see it, among the indies and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” on the best animated films list. In the end, “Frozen II” managed only to get nominated in the best original song category (for “Into the Unknown”). That’s no small feat, considering Beyoncé failed to get a nod for “Spirit,” her rousing gospel-infused track from “The Lion King.”
Does the academy want to make a powerful enemy of the Beyhive? The superstar’s fans weren’t thrilled when her ballad from the “Lion King” remake was left off the list for best original song. While she would have faced tough competition with Elton John’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman” and Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up” from “Harriet,” it’s still surprising that Beyoncé’s star power couldn’t at least edge out “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4.”
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
A movie about America’s hero, Mister Rogers, played by America’s actually-a-good-person-actor, Tom Hanks, sounds like it was tailor-made for some Oscars love, right? Nope. The nihilistic and dark “Joker” led the pack with 11 nominations, while only one nomination went for the movie about a cynical journalist’s friendship with the beloved children’s TV host. “A Beautiful Day” is a feel-good-yet-grounded narrative depicting transformation and how to face one’s demons in an actually healthy manner (so, the opposite of “Joker”). Call this a snub for nontoxic masculinity.