It’s a rare year when most of the Oscar nomination surprises are good ones, but 2020 was also a rare year for moviegoing and awards campaigns. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise in a year where we watched everything from our couches that Netflix, the most popular streaming service, walked away with the most nominations by far. But there were still some shockers Monday morning.
Here’s a rundown of the snubs and surprises in the 93rd Academy Award nominations.
FEMALE DIRECTORS GET THEIR SHOT
For 92 Academy Awards, only 5 women had ever been nominated for best director and never more than one in the same year. This year there are two: Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” This was not surprising because of their quality, but because history has shown that female directors have been grossly overlooked by the academy. And there’s still progress to be made. There has still never been a Black woman nominated for best director (Regina King would have been a worthy first for “One Night in Miami”) and there’s still only one woman who has ever won: Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2009. Maybe come April 25, that statistic will double.
SOMETIMES FAN FEVER WORKS
And you thought you were the only ones who loved Maria Bakalova and Paul Raci? “Sound of Metal” became a bit of a Cinderella story this year, but no matter how many positive reviews, Oscar pundits and movie fans seemed resigned to the fact that Raci’s breakout performance as a deaf counseler to Riz Ahmed's character would be overlooked come Oscar nominations time. Same with “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s” Bakalova, who seemed at first to be an out of the box choice for a supporting nomination. But, hey, Oscar voters have eyes too and, more often than not, taste.
SO WHO IS THE LEAD IN ‘JUDAS’?
Turns out neither Judas nor the Black Messiah was the lead in Warner Bros.’ “Judas and the Black Messiah,” as Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya both walked away with supporting actor nominations. Kaluuya played Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and Stanfield played the FBI informant who infiltrated the organization in the late 60s in the Shaka King film that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
A RAZZIE AND AN OSCAR NOMINATION FOR CLOSE
It’s not uncommon for Oscar contenders to also get a Razzie nomination in the same year (think Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side” and “All About Steve,”) but rarely is it for the same performance. This year, the dubious honor goes to Glenn Close for her portrayal of Mamaw in Ron Howard’s adaptation of J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy.” The Netflix film was widely panned by critics (it has an terrible 25% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment), but Close seemed to emerge relatively unscathed for her no-nonsense, baggy t-shirt clad grandmother. The 73-year-old has also never won an Oscar despite having been nominated eight times.
TOM HANKS MISSES OUT
Where did Tom Hanks go wrong? He delivered one of his best performances in years in Paul Greengrass’s Western odyssey “News of the World” as a Civil War veteran who endeavors to return a young German girl raised by Native Americans to her distant relatives. Hanks is one of the most nominated actors of all time (with six to date) and made history with back-to-back wins for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.” But despite being nominated last year for playing Fred Rogers, he’s struggled to break through in a meaningful way. But for it to be a real snub, you’d have to remove one of the best actor nominees (Riz Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Steven Yeun) this year and I’m not sure any should actually get bumped. Perhaps it was just a particularly tough year.
RAISE A GLASS TO ‘ANOTHER ROUND’
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg broke through the noise to snag one of the coveted five best director nominations this year for “Another Round,” in which four friends engage in a social experiment to see what their lives are like if they’re “buzzed” all the time. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, the film was well received, but seemed like a long shot for the major Oscars categories. In fact, Vinterberg said Monday that he wasn't even paying attention when the directing category was announced. “It was a complete surprise," Vinterberg said. ”We, of course, never, ever saw that coming and that created more sort of a sense of ecstasy and the element of celebration escalated drastically." It also got a nod for best international film.
WHERE’S ‘DA 5 BLOODS’?
Maybe Netflix just had too many legitimate awards contenders this year or maybe it just came out too early in 2020, but Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” seems to have gotten unjustly lost in the shuffle and it’s unclear why. Although favorably reviewed, the film about Black Vietnam veterans, was snubbed entirely by the Golden Globes, and now only has one Oscar nomination to its name: For Terence Blanchard’s score. Lead actor Delroy Lindo has inexplicably missed out on nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild.