This year’s Oscar and BAFTA nominations have revealed the state of play for the final rounds of the first movie awards season of this decade and offer up a few surprises and some notable omissions that have featured heavily in the press.
The BAFTA nominations seem to lend strong positions to the trio of front runners, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Quentin Tarantino’s ode to 60s Tinseltown: Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and Sam Mendes’ personal, technically innovative, First World War drama: 1917, the latter two of which have 10 nominations apiece alongside The Irishman. Whilst Joker leads the nominations for both ceremonies with 11 nominations, aside from a leading actor win for Joaquin Phoenix it seems quite far down the pecking order in many categories. Ditto The Irishman which many would have seen as a frontrunner if not the film to beat back in October/November following its release. At this point in time both Al Pacino and Joe Pesci seem to be cancelling each other out in the supporting acting category in favour of Brad Pitt’s acclaimed turn in Tarantino’s latest.
The acting categories all now seem to be taking on a familiar pattern, following the Golden Globes and SAG awards. It seems Renée Zellweger is the lady to beat in the leading actress race, although Charlize Theron has won a high amount of praise for her role in Bombshell and Saoirse Ronan has racked up her 4th best actress nomination for Greta Gerwig’s masterful take on Little Women. Although, as with Ronan’s other nominations, she seems too far down the pecking order to be in with a shout. Saying that, there have been some surprise wins in this category in recent years; Jennifer Lawrence’s triumph in 2013 was not one that was predicted for Silver Linings Playbook. The actress category, especially for the BAFTA nominees, has shone a light on the continued lack of diversity with Awkwafina being overlooked for The Farewell as well as Lupita Nyong’o for Us, while Scarlett Johansson landed multiple nominations for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit.
The best actor race seems firmly in Joaquin Phoenix’s court, following continuous wins thus far. However, he was expected to have competition from Taron Egerton’s acclaimed turn as Elton John in Rocketman, especially following his win at the Golden Globes and, whilst he has deservedly been nominated at the Baftas, he has inexplicably been left off the Oscar nominations. Perhaps in his place is fellow Welshman Jonathan Pryce who is long overdue a nomination and, surprisingly, receives his first here for The Two Popes (co-star Anthony Hopkins is nominated in the supporting actor category).
The supporting actor category is where the old white male card can well and truly be applied with the average age of the nominees being over 70 and Brad Pitt, well into his 50s, is the youngest nominee, alongside the likes of Pacino, Pesci and Hanks, this is a category full of previous winners and big names and, whilst it is nice to see some familiar faces back in the awards conversation, perhaps some room could have been made to make this list more diverse in terms of age and race with the likes of Jamie Foxx giving an acclaimed turn in Just Mercy.
The supporting actress category has been dominated by the surprise omission of Jennifer Lopez for her career-best turn in Hustlers and now looks to be firmly Laura Dern’s to lose for Marriage Story. This would cap an unbelievable 2–3 year stretch for Dern who has co-starred in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, won numerous accolades for Big Little Lies and is set to return to the Jurassic Park franchise in next year’s 6th instalment. It is great that both the BAFTAs and Oscars have nominated Florence Pugh for her scene-stealing turn as Amy March in Little Women and, whilst she is probably Dern’s stiffest competition, it seems too much of a stretch at this stage to imagine that she will snatch the glory.
It seems that, in spite of dominating the nominations through the likes of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, The Irishman and The Two Popes, this will not be Netflix’s year – perhaps a surprise following on from Roma’s success at both the Baftas and Oscars in 2019. In spite of all its nominations at the Golden Globes, Netflix’s sole film win was for Dern. Marriage Story seems to have borne the brunt of any perceived backlash against Netflix, with Baumbach being excluded from the director shortlists from both Bafta and the Oscars. The largest omission in this category however, is without doubt Greta Gerwig who has continued to cement her place at the forefront of US cinema with Little Women. Whilst it is nice to see the film nominated for best picture and adapted screenplay, a director nod would have shown that the Academy is progressing as opposed to sticking to tried and tested nominees.
The race for best picture seems set to go down to the wire and be a 2–3 horse race the whole way through, although the films in this race are not those you may have expected following Jojo Rabbit winning the People’s Choice award at Toronto and the rapturous reception to both The Irishman and Marriage Story. It now seems very much Tarantino vs. Mendes in both the best picture and director categories, but it would be a brave soul to bet against a certain Mr M. Scorsese.