Movie Maniac

Outguessing Oscar is futile: Surprises and snubs from the Academy Award nominations

Yalitza Aparicio stars in “Roma” which tied for the most Academy Award nominations this week with 10, including best picture.
Yalitza Aparicio stars in “Roma” which tied for the most Academy Award nominations this week with 10, including best picture. Netflix

Oh, Oscar, you trickster.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced nominations earlier this week for its 91st Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. “Roma” and “The Favourite” led the pack with 10 nominations each.

But, as usual, there were snubs and surprises among the nominees. Here’s a look.


Bradley Cooper doesn’t get a best director nomination for “A Star is Born” — This was probably the biggest omission, after Cooper received directing nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America. He did still receive multiple Oscar nominations, though, as a best picture producer, lead actor and co-writing the adapted screenplay, so he probably didn’t shed too many tears. Besides, he’s Bradley Cooper. Shouldn’t just that hair and smile be enough?

Peter Farrelly doesn’t get nominated for best director for “Green Book” — Despite getting a DGA nomination, Farrelly comes up short. But he did get nominations as a best picture producer and for co-writing the adapted screenplay. (Maybe rumors of his naughty past on-set hi-jinx didn’t go unregistered.)

Ethan Hawke doesn’t get nominated for best actor for “First Reformed” — It’s arguably the best performance of his career, one certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination, but he just couldn’t crack the list in a crowded field. (Hawke has been nominated for four Oscars before, though, two for acting and two for writing, so whaaaaaaaa.)

Emily Blunt doesn’t get nominated for best actress for “Mary Poppins Returns” — She seemed like a strong contender after Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nods, but Blunt will have to wait a little longer for that first Oscar nomination. (She also didn’t get nominated for best supporting actress for “A Quiet Place,” but that was more of a long shot.)

Timothee Chalamet doesn’t get a best supporting actor nomination for “Beautiful Boy” — He seemed like a lock, especially after getting Golden Globes and SAG award nominations, but no dice, despite an absolutely phenomenal performance. But hey, the dude was nominated for best actor last year (for “Call Me By Your Name”) and he’s only 23 — there’s bound to be more great work from him in the future.

“Black Panther’s” Ryan Coogler gets left out altogether — It’s only the biggest film of the year and the Academy had two chances to honor Coogler, for directing and co-writing the adapted screenplay, but did neither. Wakanda will have to be enough.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and “Three Identical Strangers” don’t get nominated for best feature documentary — Both films were rare documentary box offices successes last year, but failed to land on Oscar’s short list.


Willem Dafoe gets a best actor nomination for “At Eternity’s Gate” — He’s not exactly been an awards season darling, but Dafoe’s performance as Vincent van Gogh resonated enough with voters to land a nod (he was also nominated in the supporting category last year for “The Florida Project.”)

Marina de Tavira gets a best supporting actress nomination for “Roma” — This was perhaps the biggest surprise since she seemed to come out of nowhere, but universal love for the film may have helped.

Pawel Pawlikowski gets a best director nomination for “Cold War” — Again, out of nowhere for the little-seen foreign film, a major feat.

Some facts

“Black Panther” is the first superhero film to be nominated for best picture.

Alfonso Cuaron tied the record for most honored Oscar nominee for one film with four nominations (direction, cinematography, original screenplay and best picture) for “Roma.” Only Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”) and Warren Beatty (who did it twice, even, with “Reds” and “Heaven Can Wait”) have pulled off the four-nod feat.

“Roma” is the first Netflix film to finally be nominated for best picture, despite years of campaigning.

Yalitza Aparicio’s best actress nomination for “Roma” is with her first role as an actress.

Glenn Close’s best actress nomination for “The Wife” is her seventh Oscar nom. She has more nominations without a win than any other living actor or actress.

Sam Elliott’s first Oscar nomination – as best supporting actor for “A Star Is Born” – comes 50 years after his first acting gig. Talk about patience!

Rod Pocowatchit is an award-winning independent filmmaker and SAG/AFTRA-eligible actor who has written and directed four feature-length films, all made in Kansas. He has been a journalist for 29 years and is also an internationally award-winning page designer.