Breaking Down the 2019 Oscar Nominations

Roma and The Favourite tied for the most nods in a year when a clear Best Picture front-runner never quite emerged.

Yalitza Aparicio in Roma (Netflix)

Roma and The Favourite led the Oscar nominations with 10 apiece as the Academy Awards unfurled their shortlist Tuesday morning, with Best Picture recognition for A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Black Panther, Vice, and Bohemian Rhapsody. Some surprising snubs abounded in a race that never quite settled on an obvious front-runner: Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) and Peter Farrelly (Green Book) missed out on crucial Best Director nods, and stars such as Emily Blunt, Timothée Chalamet, and Ethan Hawke were overlooked in the expected acting categories. But there were multiple industry milestones, including Roma becoming the first Netflix film to get a Best Picture nomination and Black Panther becoming the first comic-book movie to do so.

An unsettled and politically charged awards season has, for the past few years, been the name of the game at the Oscars. But even by those standards, the 2019 nominee list is the product of a tumultuous campaign that often seemed to reckon with the future of Hollywood, be it the disruptive power of Netflix, the enduring but increasingly out-of-date appeal of “prestige” films like Green Book, and the Academy’s own anxieties about its declining influence. A misguided attempt at establishing a “popular film” award has been set aside for now; the question of who, if anyone, will host the February 24 ceremony remains unanswered after Kevin Hart was hired and then stepped down over a history of homophobic tweets.

Early on, the Best Picture conversation was dominated by A Star Is Born, Cooper’s Lady Gaga–starring remake of the Hollywood classic, which connected with both audiences and critics, grossing more than $400 million worldwide despite being an R-rated drama. Though the film got many nods (including for Cooper, Gaga, and Sam Elliott in the acting categories), it missed the pivotal directing and editing shortlists, suggesting a lack of enthusiasm across all the Academy’s branches, something reinforced by the film’s failure to win major prizes at precursors like the Golden Globes.

Green Book, which won a Best Picture trophy at the Globes as well as the coveted Producers Guild award, had recently pulled ahead despite its mediocre box-office takings and more mixed critical reception. A heartwarming tale of friendship between the black musician Don Shirley and his white bodyguard, Tony Vallelonga, in the early 1960s, the film has been dogged by controversy, including complaints from Shirley’s family over perceived inaccuracies, the reemergence of old stories about the director Farrelly’s inappropriate behavior in the past, and the unearthing of an anti-Muslim tweet by the screenwriter Nick Vallelonga (Tony’s son). Green Book still seems like a viable competitor, especially for Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), but its lack of a Best Director nod will hurt its chances for the biggest prize.

The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos’s arch period tale of scandal and intrigue in the court of England’s Queen Anne, received an expected slew of technical nominations along with recognition for Lanthimos and the entire leading cast (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone), bumping the film to the top of the nomination tally. BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s rendering of Ron Stallworth’s autobiography about his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colorado, was a hugely successful comeback for the celebrated filmmaker, earning him his first competitive directing nomination (along with a screenplay nod) and six nominations in total. Bohemian Rhapsody, the other big Golden Globes winner, was shortlisted for Best Picture, Best Actor, and three technical awards, but its director, Bryan Singer (who was fired during production), was ignored.

Perhaps the biggest story of the nominations, though, is the dominance of Roma, a Mexican film from Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), which has a significant chance to be the first foreign-language feature to win Best Picture in the Academy’s 91-year history (the movie’s dialogue is in Spanish and Mixtec). Netflix has thrown a tremendous publicity budget behind the film’s campaign machine, partly to overcome a perceived bias against the streaming company for mostly keeping its movies out of cinemas. The company also broke its long-standing rules and released Roma in theaters first to get ahead of that criticism. Netflix’s efforts seem to have worked: Roma was recognized not just in technical categories but also for Best Actress (newcomer Yalitza Aparicio) and Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), the latter of which was a massive surprise. As other potential front-runners founder, Roma might end up as the consensus pick.

Still, this season held plenty of missed opportunities for the Academy, which has been working to modernize its membership and stay ahead of the zeitgeist. Though Black Panther was recognized, Michael B. Jordan’s iconic work as the film’s villain never got awards traction, and Ryan Coogler (the movie’s director and writer) was overlooked, as the Best Picture nomination goes to the film’s producer, the Marvel honcho Kevin Feige. Lee’s long-awaited recognition in the directing category was a serious achievement, but other younger black filmmakers with lauded films missed out, including Barry Jenkins (though he was nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for If Beale Street Could Talk), Steve McQueen (whose Widows was ignored), and Boots Riley (same for his Sorry to Bother You).

Meanwhile, female filmmakers were entirely neglected. Though Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? got three nominations, she and Debra Granik (who directed Leave No Trace and the 2011 Oscar nominee Winter’s Bone) never got into the awards conversation despite critical acclaim, perhaps because their films were quieter and less showy than other Oscar hits like Vice. The complexities of award season, and where studios decide to put their advertising money, mean it’s hard to place blame on any one voting body. But even as the Oscars’ membership is updated, what amounts to Academy consensus still feels far from radical.

Best Picture

BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features)
Black Panther (Disney)
Bohemian Rhapsody (20th Century Fox)
The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
Green Book (Universal)
Roma (Netflix)
A Star Is Born (Warner Bros.)
Vice (Annapurna)

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice
Paweł Pawlikowski, Cold War

Best Actor
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Original Screenplay
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Green Book
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Adam McKay, Vice
Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Adapted Screenplay
Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, Eric Roth, A Star Is Born
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott, BlacKkKlansman
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Animated Film
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

Best Documentary Film
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons

Best Original Score
Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Cinematography
Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

Best Film Editing
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

Best Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns

Best Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Best Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Best Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star Is Born

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots

Best Animated Short
Animal Behavior
Late Afternoon
One Small Step

Best Live-Action Short

Best Documentary Short
Black Sheep
End Game
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.