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Academy snubs, shocks, surprises with 2019 Oscar picks

Last week, comedian Kumail Nanjiani and actress Tracee Ellis Ross announced this year’s slew of Oscar nominations. The Academy, as always, delivered a mixed-bag of snubs, welcome surprises, and befuddling inclusions. 

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” buoyed by critical raves and Netflix’s deep campaign coffers, garnered ten nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for newcomer Yalitza Aparicio. Yorgos Lanthimos’s period costume drama “The Favourite” tied “Roma” for most nominations. 

Rounding out the Best Picture category is a wide-array of films ranging from massive studio efforts (“Black Panther” and “A Star is Born”) to indie hits (“Vice” and “BlackKklansman”) and garbage fires created and touted by either depraved alleged sexual miscreants or a team of causal racists (“Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book”). Somehow, the Academy overlooked “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “First Man,” films directed by newly-minted auteurs, Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle respectively. 

The Best Director category is a boys club yet again, despite the Academy's efforts to diversify the large group of voters. Even worse, they didn’t nominate the best director. Tragically, Bradley Cooper was snubbed for his brilliant direction of “A Star is Born”. Cooper should be lauded for making himself look that hot in his own movie. If you don’t believe me, you don’t believe in beauty. 

The salve for his snub is Spike Lee’s first directing nomination. Lee finally received his first nomination in the category for “BlackKklansman” after going unrecognized by the Oscars countless times. Luckily, this year the category is not so monochromatic. Alfonso Cuarón is Mexican, in fact the past 4 of 5 best director winners have been Latin American including Cuarón for “Gravity.” The other nominees are “Vice’s” Adam McKay, Yorgos Lanthimos and Pawel Pawlikowski. 

The lead acting nominations more or less went as many pundits predicted. The male category features dueling biopic favorites, Christian Bale (“Vice”) and Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). Viggo Mortensen of “Green Book” found time not tripping over racial gaffes to be nominated and Willem Dafoe garnered a surprise nomination for “Eternity’s Gate,” a movie approximately one person saw, me. And of course, Bradley Cooper’s bearded bronze-skinned, gravelly voiced performance in “A Star is Born” rounded out the category. 

Lead Actress is probably the strongest category of them all, featuring remarkable performances from a variety of films. Olivia Colman reigns over England in the brilliant “The Favourite.” Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”) is magnificent throughout, but she may have to settle for the Best Song trophy for the hit song “Shallow.” Glenn Close (“The Wife”) aims to finally take home a trophy after a career of nominations. The under-seen “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” picks up a nomination for Melissa McCarthy’s smarmy performance. The aforementioned Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”) becomes the first indigenous nominee ever, and it’s sad that it took so long. 

The supporting acting categories features one welcome surprise in Marina de Tavira’s nomination for her role as the mother in “Roma.” The nominees also include the dueling maidens of “The Favourite,” Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Amy Adams hopes to pick up her first win after five previous nominations, but the award seems to be Regina King’s (“Beale Street”), and rightfully so. 

The Supporting Actor has some of my favorite performances this year. Sam Elliott (“A Star is Born”) and Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me”) are veteran character actors who finally get due recognition, and Sam Rockwell’s (“Vice”) George Bush impersonation gets a nod. Mahershala Ali of “Green Book” is the all-but crowned winner here. Normally I’d be elated for Ali, but the movie is trash and his performance is…fine. I’ll just count it as another Oscar for “Moonlight.” 

This years Oscars feature two movies that should really be nominated for nothing, “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Not only for the controversy surrounding their creative teams but for the movies themselves. “Green Book” finds a white man teaching a black man to be black in a manner that, according to the family of Don Shirley, never happened. It is also painfully boring. 

“Bohemian Rhapsody” focuses on a sex icon not having sex, while its director allegedly has unwanted sex with underaged boys. No one should see these movies. Watch any of the other wonderful nominees. “Black Panther” and “Roma” are on Netflix. See those a thousand times before you even think about watching “Green Book.” If either of those win Best Picture I’ll lead the riot in the streets. 

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