Oscar Noms 2019: History in the Making

First of all, let me get the humble brag out of the way real quick cause I KILLED at our predictions pool with 91/121 (tied with Cara because we are obviously the same person). It’s been a weirdly unpredictable year, despite major frontrunners racking up most precursor awards so YAY ME.

Okay moving on because oh man do I have THOUGHTS. This morning was history-making in so many ways, and despite some surprising (even infuriating) omissions and inclusions, all other feelings are overshadowed by the overwhelming love bestowed upon Roma.

It’s incredible enough that Netflix has finally achieved what they have been working towards since 2015’s Beasts of No Nation — securing the coveted, hard-fought “Best Picture” nomination. It’s all the more astounding that this honor was ultimately given to a foreign-language, black and white film about a Mexican family.

That’s already enough for the history books, but Alfonso Cuaron’s autobiographical drama had bigger plans — the film also snagged Netflix’s first noms for director, lead actress, original screenplay, foreign-language film, production design, sound mixing, and sound editing.

But I mean, why stop there? Roma also secured nominations for cinematography and supporting actress — which while not firsts for Netflix, brought the film’s total to ten, matching the Fox Searchlight awards favorite, The Favourite (of course the pun is intended).

If only that were enough, but proving once again that Latinos don’t just match expectations, they passionately smash them — Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, nominated in lead and supporting respectively, are record-makers in their own right. Yalitza becomes the first indigenous woman nominated for “Best Actress” (all the more incredible when you consider her rise from schoolteacher to first-time actress). And while there have been a few more Latina nominees in the supporting category over the years, Marina’s inclusion was not by any stretch a sure thing as she missed SAG, Globes, and BAFTA nods.

As always, we defy the odds.

I could go on forever but will finish off my shameless gushing with a standing ovation to Roma producer Gabriela Rodriguez — hailing from my home of Caracas, Venezuela, she became the first Latina to ever receive a “Best Picture” nomination. Wow. I don’t have the words. I just hope to one day follow in your footsteps.

TLDR; the Latino takeover is alive and well in Hollywood so get them pots and pans ready for Oscars night!

I’m proud of my people but there’s plenty more to be thrilled about today. Black Panther made its own history, picking up seven nominations including the first-ever “Best Picture” nod for a comic book movie. And let it be known, the one to break the mold was led by a predominantly Black cast and a legend-in-the-making filmmaker (I’ve been shouting about Ryan Coogler since 2013’s Fruitvale Station JUST SAYING).

The film also received a production design nomination, making Hannah Bleacher the first Black woman ever in that category.

Elsewhere, Spike Lee finally received his long-overdue “Best Director” nomination for the piercingly relevant Blackkklansman. While once again, no women were nominated (shocking in a year with critically acclaimed contenders such as Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace), the directing category largely went abroad with their picks — Cuaron (Mexico), Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece), and Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland).

On a personal note, I would have preferred the token white guy nod to go to Bradley Cooper or Bo Burnham over Adam McKay but whatever. It’s telling that neither Bradley or Peter Farrelly (of frontrunner Green Book) received recognition here, despite their DGA nominations. Particularly for A Star Is Born, it’s not good news as the film also failed to snag a film editing nod — no film has ever won the grand prize without a nomination in at least directing or film editing.

The story is better over in the documentary category, one of the most diverse branches of the Academy, with not a single white male in the running. That said, I am sad (and a bit stunned tbh) not to see the beloved Won’t You Be My Neighbor? nominated — thinking back to last year’s Jane snub, I hope this doesn’t become a trend.

In the animation category, I am rooting HARD for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for bringing Afro-Latino Miles Morales so beautifully into our world. Fingers crossed for Cuban-American filmmaker Phil Lord to continue the Latino takeover in a few weeks.

With all this said (and trust, I could say more), it’s important to acknowledge the misses. No love for South Korea’s Burning in the foreign language category, which while maybe not surprising is nonetheless disappointing. And despite knowing the hard uphill battle it faced and the complete lack of precursor attention, it’s a shame that Crazy Rich Asians was nowhere to be found this morning. Romantic comedies are difficult enough to be taken seriously as Oscar contenders, but there’s no doubt its cultural influence was on par with Black Panther this year, and it should have been part of the conversation at the very least.

Other final thoughts — First Man deserved to be a major part of this awards season (justice for Claire Foy!!!), and it’s a major bummer how things worked out. I would have picked it over the problematic Bohemian Rhapsody, which I enjoyed for the music and Rami Malek’s electrifying performance (a nomination well deserved) but does not merit a Best Picture nod over the likes of Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk or even Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.

It’s too early to determine any clear-cut guaranteed winners in really any of the categories, and the “Best Picture” race in particular is a serious head-scratcher this year. Normally, the math can point to a few solid bets, but an interesting shake-up this morning left just enough doubt to not fully throw my weight behind any.

The next few weeks will be telling, starting with the SAG Awards on Sunday closely followed by DGA on February 2. From there, it’s a race to the finish line as nominees and voters shmooze and booze until voting closes on February 19.

One way or another, this will be one to watch. Catch up on your watch list, get the popcorn ready, and stay tuned for more. Nos fuimos!

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