Monday, February 6, 2023

Surprises, Snubs & More From The 95th Academy Award Nominations

After a long campaign journey and promoting the work, the nominees for the 95th Academy Awards are here. Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams revealed the nominees this morning; as always, there are plenty of surprises and snubs along the way. While the morning went somewhat as expected, with “Everything Everywhere All At Once” leading the pack with eleven nominations, along with solid nomination totals for “All Quiet On The Western Front” and “The Banshees Of Inisherin,” there were more than a few shocking moments as well. Let’s recap the nominations and highlight the most significant moments of the morning.

“EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE” LEADS THE NOMINATIONS
What a world (or universe?) where “Everything Everywhere All At Once” leads the nominations at the Academy Awards. With a whopping eleven nominations, the movie showed up just about everywhere it was expected to, plus a few bonus categories. All the actors got in: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu, making history in their categories. The A24 film also surprised in both music categories, snagging both Best Original Score and Best Original Song nominations, despite not being widely predicted in either category. It also scored nominations for Best Costume Design and Film Editing, along with Original Screenplay, Director, and Picture. While last year’s nomination leader, “The Power Of The Dog,” also overperformed on its nomination morning, there’s no denying the distinct differences in the narratives this year. “The Power Of The Dog” was ultimately the big, stern frontrunner that the crowd-pleasing underdog defeated. This year, the nomination leader is also the underdog movie in some strange but undeniable way. Now, let’s fear the yearly frontrunner backlash that may begin soon.

“THE FABELMANS” STUMBLES BUT LANDS ON ITS FEET
The biggest threat to “Everything Everywhere All At Once’s” Best Picture win might still be “The Fabelmans.” This morning, Steven Spielberg made history in several categories, landing a record thirteenth Best Picture nomination and a twelfth Best Director nomination. His film scored seven nominations, a respectable amount, performing just about as expected. In a shock reminiscent of “Belfast” last year, Paul Dano was bumped out of the category in favor of Judd Hirsch. This nomination for Hirsch is his first in 42 years, breaking the record for the longest time between nominations in Academy history. Elsewhere, the film missed out on Costume Design and Editing nominations but still managed Production Design and Score, along with Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. Michelle Williams also got in despite a worrying SAG miss and a dangerous last-minute push to Supporting Actress. It’s foolish to call “The Fabelmans” dead, as there’s a real world where “The Fabelmans” takes advantage of any frontrunner backlash that may come toward “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and swoop in for a win. Still, the safe bet is “Everything Everywhere All At Once” to win Best Picture for now.

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH SNEAKS IN
Only one nomination had me laughing in glee and bafflement this morning: Andrea Riseborough in Best Actress for “To Leslie.” May, including me and others at Next Best Picture, wondered if this late-breaking, social media-driven campaign for Riseborough was a fruitless endeavor. We were genuinely wrong. This will be a fascinating case study for Oscar prognosticators in the coming months. How did this campaign work? Of course, it’s a beautiful performance, but other than an Indie Spirit nomination, there was no buzz around the film until voting had already started. Once voting started, a campaign led by many actors began to push hard for votes. It’s a little unbelievable, but here we are.

Sadly though, her excellent nomination came at the expense of Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler, leaving both leading categories devoid of any black nominees. Davis’ “The Woman King” didn’t score a single nomination, despite many predictions in a few categories. “Till” went home empty-handed as well.

“ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT” MAKES NOISE
Germany’s “All Quiet On The Western Front” had an incredible morning, though it wasn’t without a miss or two. With nine nominations, “All Quiet On The Western Front” ties “The Banshees Of Inisherin” for the second-most of the morning. The movie landed in Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, International Feature, Cinematography, Makeup & Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound, and Visual Effects, along with a surprise nomination for Volker Bertelmann in Original Score. Most notably, Edward Berger missed out on a nomination for Best Director, making it the second International Feature (non-English, non-American produced) nominated for Best Picture without a Director nomination ever. “The Grand Illusion” in 1937 is the only other film to do so. Regardless, it’s an excellent morning for the film, which should stroll to an International Feature win.

Part of why their win in Best International Feature will be so easy is the lack of “Decision To Leave.” Despite the historic Best Picture win for “Parasite,” the Academy seems to have an inexplicable distaste for Korean cinema. With the snub for “Decision To Leave,” “Parasite” remains the only Korean film to receive any nomination in any category. The other nominees for Best International Feature were Globe-winning “Argentina, 1985,” Belgium’s “Close,” Poland’s “EO,” and Ireland’s “The Quiet Girl,” the first nomination for Ireland in this category.

“TOP GUN: MAVERICK” FLIES BUT DOESN’T SOAR
There’s a lot to celebrate for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which received six nominations this morning, including Best Picture. The movie had one absurd snub and one pleasant surprise. The surprise: Best Adapted Screenplay. For a film about action, this wasn’t widely predicted to get in for its writing. That’s a significant nomination that solidifies its real shot at Best Picture. Even so, one of the seemingly guaranteed wins for “Top Gun: Maverick” was Best Cinematography, yet Claudio Miranda’s name was missing from the nominations. Ultimately I’d place the nomination for Adapted Screenplay as more meaningful than the Cinematography snub. There’s a world in which “Top Gun: Maverick” sneaks in to win Best Picture if “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is too weird and if “The Fabelmans” is too traditional.

So what’s winning Cinematography now? At this point, my money’s on “All Quiet On The Western Front” at this point. I can’t see the Academy giving Roger Deakins his third Oscar in five years (though that’s not crazy). It would be cool to see Mandy Walker become the first-ever woman to win the category, and “Elvis” was quite beloved. Still, the dominance of “All Quiet On The Western Front” in many categories feels like it’s the winner. It’s wild that “Avatar: The Way of Water” missed here and only has four nominations overall, but it made room for some outstanding nominations for other films.

“WOMEN TALKING” MAKES IT
Despite once being seen as a top-tier Best Picture contender, “Women Talking” landed only two nominations, albeit in big categories: Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Sadly, inexplicably, and unsurprisingly at this point, the film scored no acting nominations. Even more surprising was Hildur Guðnadóttir’s snub in Best Original Score. It’s a sad state of affairs for an acclaimed movie. Consequently, after women won Best Director two years in a row, no women were nominated this year.

Furthermore, with “The Whale” missing out in Best Picture, it looks like “Women Talking” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “All Quiet On The Western Front” are the only three Best Picture nominees in Adapted Screenplay. This seemingly solidifies the win for “Women Talking,” a much more writerly achievement than “All Quiet On The Western Front” or “Top Gun: Maverick.” While more nominations would’ve been lovely, winning this above-the-line category is still considerable.

“TRIANGLE OF SADNESS” SCORES A TRIANGLE OF NOMINATIONS
The Palme d’Or winner, “Triangle of Sadness,” landed three major nominations this morning: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Sadly breakout star Dolly De Leon was left out. The film had been relatively quiet throughout the season, only scoring the occasional nomination here or there. Though the film is predominantly English-language, Ruben Östlund’s Best Director nomination maintains the spirit of the “International Feature” Best Director nominee. It’s a bit strange that the love for the film couldn’t bring De Leon along with it, but Best Supporting Actress was a tough category this year, as in most years.

WHO’S WINNING BEST ACTOR?
As expected, Austin Butler (“Elvis“), Colin Farrell (“The Banshees Of Inisherin“), Brendan Fraser (“The Whale“), and Bill Nighy (“Living“) all received nominations for Best Actor. That last spot was up in the air in a category with four locked contenders. Though names like Hugh Jackman (“The Son“), Tom Cruise (“Top Gun: Maverick“), and even Adam Sandler (“Hustle“) were in the mix, it was Paul Mescal from “Aftersun” who scored the nomination. It’s an undeniably cool nomination, far cooler than the Academy tends to be.

So who’s winning now? Fraser’s certainly had the most support across social media since Venice, though “The Whale” hasn’t been quite as well received. The movie only scored three nominations: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Hong Chau), and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. It is challenging to win Best Actor without a Best Picture nomination, which is precisely what Butler and Farrell have. Certainly, Fraser can overcome that, but it’s an uphill battle. SAG will indeed be illuminating. I’m going with Butler for now, but Farrell could still win it.

“TÁR” OVERPERFORMS
For a top-tier Best Picture contender, “TÁR” has had a reasonably quiet awards season. Perhaps that’s why it was a surprise when the film scored nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, in addition to expected nominations for Actress (Cate Blanchett), Original Screenplay, Director, and Picture. With six nominations, that’s a solid haul. Though Michelle Yeoh seems unbeatable at this point, this helps the case for Blanchett.

OTHER PLEASANT SURPRISES:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Elsewhere, “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On” scored a nomination for Best Animated Feature. Despite initially being disqualified by the Academy, its reinstatement has undoubtedly paid off. It’s a high-profile win that will challenge “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” though it seems foolish to assume anything can beat “Pinocchio” at this point in the season. Netflix’s “The Sea Beast” was another lovely surprise in the category, though it came at the cost of Cartoon Saloon’s “My Father’s Dragon,” the first from the studio to be snubbed.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
This is one of the rare years without a significant snub in Best Documentary, though the shortlist itself did most of the snubbing (sorry, “Good Night Oppy“). The major threats to win, “All The Beauty and the Bloodshed,” “All That Breathes,” and “Navalny,” all got in, along with “Fire of Love” and “A House Made of Splinters.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Brian Tyree Henry is a first-time nominee for his deserving performance in “Causeway.” It’s a very cool nomination for an incredible performer. While this is the film’s only nomination, Henry has been such a consistently great actor in projects for years now that it’s terrific to see his nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Angela Bassett scored the first-ever acting nomination for a Marvel Studios film and could feasibly win. While De Leon was snubbed here, Hong Chau was finally recognized for her work in “The Whale.” Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu made it for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” while Kerry Condon is there for “The Banshees Of Inisherin.” It’s a tough battle between Bassett and Condon. I’m currently going with Condon, but it’s neck-and-neck.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
RRR” is officially an Oscar-nominated film. “Naatu Naatu” landed a spot in Best Original Song and will likely win the whole thing. Though it couldn’t crack the Best Picture field, it’s still an excellent get. Diane Warren scored her annual spot in the Best Original Song lineup for “Applause” from a film that seemingly no one has seen called “Tell It Like A Woman.” Rihanna is also an Oscar nominee for “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The nomination for “This is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” may be my favorite of the morning. Who isn’t excited to see David Byrne alongside Son Lux and Mitski at the Oscars?

There’s still a long road until the winners are revealed, so truly, anything can happen. Will “Everything Everywhere All At Once” win the whole thing? Is that too cool for the Academy? After “CODA’s” shocking win last year, any rule, statistic, or expectation can be broken. For today, let’s celebrate these incredible and deserving nominees and look forward to the 95th Academy Awards happening on March 12th, 2023.

What was your biggest surprise at this year’s nominations? What about the biggest snub? Does anything from today change what you think will win Best Picture? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar nomination predictions here.

Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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