Updated: Mar 22, 2020
This week's Oscar nominations mean those who confine their movie watching lists to key contenders in best film and acting categories miss out on several thought-provoking films and fine performances. The "left-behinds" fail to meet a definition of snubbed because the vast community of Oscar prognosticators already put them somewhere in the range of possible-to-long-shot nominees.
For me, the biggest missing person comes with Ethan Hawke and his deep, internal understanding as a preacher facing a crisis of faith in the movie "First Reformed." With challenging, rather than entertaining topics, the movie stands out and at least gets on the list of awards nominees with its original screenplay by Paul Schrader.
Not surprisingly, other small films missed the cut, including one of my 2018 favorites, "Sorry to Bother You" with its comically insightful look at racism and slavery. I also loved Director Debra Granick's feature "Leave No Trace," which captures a pulled-from-life sense of surviving off the grid in Pacific Northwest forests. When it comes to documentaries, the list misses the feel-good look at television icon Mr. Rogers in "Won't You Be My Neighbor." It also lacks the surprising twists from "Three Identical Strangers" about triplets separated at birth.
But then, watching the list of nominees provides both enjoyable and intriguing hours. The major snub in that group comes for Bradley Cooper, left off the list of best director nominees despite an impressive debut with "A Star is Born." The other major surprise happened in the best supporting actress category with Marina de Tavira for "Roma." A good choice but not a disappointment. Well, potential contenders might disagree, especially Claire Foy of "First Man" or Margot Robbie of "Mary Queen of Scots."
The happy news? After the Screen Actors Guild ignored her supporting role in "If Beale Street Could Talk," Regina King made it back in the roster of nominees and moves up front as likely winner. While grumbling continues about including the well-made but not critical darlings of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Green Book," the Best Picture category breaks new ground with three other entries. "Black Panther" enters the fray as the first superhero movie to earn a nomination. Meanwhile, "Roma" transforms the distribution process and gives Netflix its first coup in the Best Picture category. And then "Blackkklansman" helps Spike Lee finally land in the Best Director field where he deserved a place years ago.
So, go ahead and watch the nominees, but keep an eye out for those other projects that missed out on recognition--but not quality.
This review was originally aired on 1/24/2019.
You can listen to it online at https://www.kunr.org/post/look-more-then-oscar-nominations