Oscars 2019: Black Panther makes history and other surprises, snubs and seminal nominations this year

Oscars 2019: Black Panther makes history and other surprises, snubs and seminal nominations this year

Award season

Text: Aravin Sandran

While the recent Golden Globes was a serious snoozefest, the more prestigious Oscars is shaping up to be worth a watch even without a host to commandeer the proceedings. Yes, that means there'll be no Ellen to order pizza or take another A-list group selfie. You can blame that on comedian Kevin Hart who was first hired by the Academy then put on the spot to apologise again for homophobic tweets in his past. He didn't, and he went as far as to say that being an ally to the LGBTQ community was "not my life dream". What a dumbass. This would be the second time the Oscars hasn't had a host since 1989, which opened with a campy musical number by actor Rob Lowe and Snow White. Add to that, the Academy announced that it'll be adding a Popular Film category, but later retracted the category after it faced heavy criticism for selling out for ratings. The show's ratings have indeed plummetted over the years partly due to its old-fashioned format, but if this year's surprise nods and seminal nominations are any indications, it's going to be one for the history books at least.

Seminal: Black Panther makes history as the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture.
The movie was critically lauded for its all-black cast and empowering representation of Afro-futurism. So obviously, there were some expectations for the movie to score a few nominations. Well, it has now racked up nominations in seven categories including its watershed Best Picture nod along with Original Score and Original Song for Kendrick Lamar's stellar work, Costume Design just for T'Challa's black Maharaja-inspired suit, Production Design for basically bringing Wakanda to life, and finally, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing because hearing T'Challa breathe literally gave everyone the feels. Whether it wins Best Picture or not, no one can deny Black Panther's blockbuster impact on the box office and culture at large. If we learnt anything in 2018, it was that there's plenty of money to be made in validating audiences — whether gay, black or female — on the silver screen.

Seminal: Director Alfonso Cuarón's Roma picks up nominations in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, but more importantly, it is Netflix's first Best Picture nod.
Here we go again, another streaming platform vying for an Oscar win. By the looks of it, next year, Instagram will be up on the podium. Yet, this is the second time a Netflix production has garnered nominations though. In 2018, Mudbound received four nominations but didn't pick up a single win. Amazon tried and failed in 2017 with the eternally depressing Manchester by the Sea. There is some hope for Roma: Cuarón is no stranger to the Academy, having won Best Director for Gravity in 2014. The film also did pretty well at the Golden Globes. It's not going to be easy though as it's up against fan-favourites Black Panther and BlackKklansman to name a few. Add to that, no foreign-language film has ever clinched Best Picture. Tough luck, Netflix.

Surprise: Melissa McCarthy gets a Best Actress nomination.
This one is random AF. No one saw this coming. In Can You Ever Forgive Me, McCarthy plays Lee Israel, an awkward antisocial author who is best known for her infamous literary forgeries. Chances are you've probably not seen it because it enjoyed a rather limited release around the world without a single screening in Singapore. Nevertheless, McCarthy ditches her slapstick acting chops for a more serious turn that we are eager to see more of. McCarthy did receive a Best Supporting Actress nod for Bridesmaids, so she is certainly a dark horse in this category alongside The Favourite's Olivia Coleman and A Star Is Born's Lady Gaga.

Snub: A Star Is Born's Bradley Cooper is overlooked for the little-known Cold War's Pawel Pawlikowski.
A Star Is Born's nomination tally stands at eight, but after Bradley Cooper lost out at the Golden Globe for Best Director to Alfonso Cuarón with a meme-worthy reaction, the Academy could have at least thrown him a nomination. To add salt to his wound, he lost out to Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowsi. Pawlikowsi's previous work Ida was back in 2013, which won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Catch the trailer for Cold War above before adding it to your watch list.

The 2019 Academy Awards will take place on 24 February.