Mandatory Talks: The Progressive and Regressive Picks of the 2020 Oscars
The official nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards were announced this week. In an unexpected turn of events, there were a few surprises and a whole lot of snubs. Naturally, people are bitching about movies they love not getting nominated for the 2020 Oscars. However, this year’s nominations also offer a series of wonderfully progressive picks, followed by increasingly regressive ones. With that in mind, here are are the best and worst of this year’s Oscar nominations.
Cover Photo: Universal Pictures
Progressive: First Korean Filmmaker Nominated for Best Director
Bong Joon-ho is the first South Korean filmmaker to be nominated for the Best Director category in Oscars history. Let that sink in for a moment. As the filmmaker behind genre classics such as The Host and Snowpiercer, Joon-ho is long overdue for a nomination. After years of pumping out classic after classic, it seems that the Academy finally decided to take a big bong rip this awards season with six nominations for Parasite.
Regressive: No Female Filmmakers Nominated for Best Director
As great as Joon-Ho’s nomination in the directing category is, there are a whole host of female filmmakers that were also worthy of Best Director nominations. Although wonderful directors like Greta Gerwig were certainly snubbed, the biggest loser here is Lulu Wang, who didn’t even get a pity nomination in the writing categories for her excellent screenplay The Farewell. It’s not that any of the nominees aren’t worthy of their respective achievements, it’s that 2019 was a landmark year for female filmmakers and that deserves to be represented in this category (whoever it may be).
Progressive: Florence Pugh Sneaks in a (Well-Deserved) Nomination For Best Supporting Actress
While Florence Pugh might not yet be a household name, she’s about to be. With a key role in Marvel’s upcoming Black Widow movie, Pugh is undoubtedly the next big thing in Hollywood. With three incredible and equally diverse performances in Fighting With My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women, her Best Supporting Actress nomination proves that she’s here to stay. In other words, believe the hype.
Regressive: Only One Actor of Color Nominated in All Acting Categories
Apparently, the only way for an actor of color to get an Academy Award is to portray a slave, poor person, or something in between. As the only person of color to be nominated in all of the acting categories, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) got her nomination for exactly that. Considering that Scarlett Johansson got nominated for different roles for both Best Supporting Actress (Jojo Rabbit) and Best Actress (Marriage Story), you’d think that there would be room for actors and actresses of color to get more love. Barring Tom Hanks’ first Oscar nomination in nearly 20 years, the fact that both Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Lopez were shut out despite roles of a lifetime is ultimately not a good look for the Academy.
Progressive: Second Straight Year in a Row With a Comic Book Movie Getting a Best Picture Nomination
For years, people have doubted the viability of the comic book genre of movies. With a second straight year where a comic book movie has been nominated for Best Picture, that argument is becoming far less valid, further proving that comic book movies have the ability to be Oscar-worthy. Although a nomination for Avengers: Endgame would have been nice validation for the impact of the MCU as a whole, the fact that any comic book movie was nominated for the second year in a row is astounding in itself.
Regressive: 'Joker' Getting 11 Overall Nominations
While Joker is the first comic book movie to lead the year’s Oscar race in the total number of nominations with 11 (a record within itself), it does also not entirely deserve this much love. There’s no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was deserving of a nomination (and will probably win). Aside from Best Cinematography, Best Original Music Score, and a few technical categories, all the love that Joker is getting could have easily been applied to more deserving films. Nuff said.
Progressive: Netflix Has More Nominations Than Any Other Traditional Studio This Year
More than any other film studio this year, Netflix leads the pack with 24 total nominations across all categories. With such a big deal being made about the feasibility of streaming services creating award-worthy content, Netflix has shown that it's possible. While this has already been proven in the realm of TV time and time again, the Oscars are a different discussion entirely. Even though Netflix scored a healthy amount of nominations at last year’s ceremony, this year will prove to be a watershed moment for progressing past the silly notion that streaming services can’t create Oscar-worthy content.
Regressive: Horror and Science Fiction Movies Are Never Given Their Due
As per usual, the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made it their ongoing mission to completely ignore great genre movies every single year. With art house genre movies such as Midsommar, Us, and Ad Astra equaling the award-worthiness of most of the Best Picture nominees, it’s yet another year of (mostly) genre movie shutouts. Whereas Pugh at least got a supporting actress nomination for the aforementioned Little Women, Lupita Nyong’o’s astounding dual performance in Us was perhaps the biggest snub of all the nominations. In short, this year’s lack of genre fare still suggests that most Academy voters are afraid of a great horror performance.
Progressive: 'Frozen 2' Gets Left Out in the Cold; Beyoncé Snubbed For Best Song
In a world where Disney essentially owns a monopoly at the box office (especially in animation), it’s refreshing to see smaller movies get some love in the Best Animated Feature category. Namely, Frozen 2 failed to score a nomination. Although Disney is represented with Toy Story 4, which is an objectively better movie, this is a small win for other animation studios and the industry as a whole.
Similarly, Oscar hopeful Beyoncé looked to score a Best Song nomination for last year’s remake of The Lion King. While her song “Spirit” from the movie was nominated for this year’s Golden Globes, Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 overshadowed it for the Oscars.
Regressive: John Williams Gets Nominated For 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
This is more of a nitpick than anything else, but how in the hell did John Williams get nominated for Best Original Music Score for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? Not only has Williams scored a record 52 nominations throughout the years (you read that right), but he also has multiple wins, including for the original Star Wars itself.
While the sentiment is nice for what could possibly be one of Williams’ last film scores (he’s 87), his nomination could have also been used to highlight other rising composers such, as Hildur Guðnadóttir (the first solo woman to ever be nominated and most likely to win the Best Original Music Score trophy). In many ways, Williams’ inclusion in this category is the definition of a legacy nomination. This year, more than any in recent memory, there were numerous repeat nominations from the past. It’s basically everything that is wrong with the Oscars summed up in a nutshell.