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And so the race for the 93rd Academy Awards begins.

The nominees for Best Picture are…

The Father (6 nominations)
Judas and the Black Messiah (6 nominations)
Mank (10 nominations)
Minari (6 nominations)
Nomadland (6 nominations)
Promising Young Woman (5 nominations)
Sound of Metal (6 nominations)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (6 nominations)

You can see a full ballot list here.

My first thoughts on this list? Yay? Sort of. I mean, the fact that Mank got ten nominations is appalling, but the rest I can live with. In my memory, we’ve never had such a balanced slate in terms of the total number of nominations for each Best Picture nominee. Not that this list wasn’t fairly predictable, but I wouldn’t have guessed that The Father and Promising Young Women would get as many nominations as they did based on the general awards conversation. Of course, I haven’t yet watched either of those films. Nor have I seen Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, or The Trial of the Chicago 7. But I’ve been spending so much time watching films from the 1920s for my Century+ project that we only just now began going through our Independent Spirit Award screeners (an added bonus to having the Math Greek here full time). Minari and Nomadland are great!

And with that, let’s get up close and personal with the rest of the nominations, shall we?

The Good

“Husavik”! By far, this was my biggest moment of joy while watching the nominations announcement. If you are a longtime reader, you know how much I dislike the category of Original Song, mostly because it often leads to nominations from lackluster films that happen to have a decent song in the closing credits. And sometimes not even decent. But this year I was really rooting for Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga to get at least one nomination in this category because its songs were just so on point throughout the film. Plus, the movie is extremely entertaining and comedies and rom-coms almost never get recognized by the Academy.

I was also pleased to see Emma. in the Costume Design category. While I didn’t love the adaptation itself, I thought its costumes and sets were glorious. Sadly, it did not get into the Production Design category, but it did score a nomination for Makeup and Hairstyling.

Other than that, my biggest squeal came from realizing that someone was not nominated, namely, Aaron Sorkin for Directing (though he did get a nod for Writing). I assumed he would be in the directing category since he was on the DGA list, but Thomas Vinterberg snuck in there for Another Round! I haven’t yet watched that film, but I’ve heard good things and I just love when one of the foreign-language feature directors gets a nod. Naturally, I was also thrilled to see two women among the Directing nominees, but I had somewhat expected that given the DGA list.

The Bad

The acting lists, as usual. These were fine overall, and I’m really happy to see more diversity in these categories, but they are still mostly pulled from the Best Picture nods and I’m always sorry that stellar performances in small films go unrecognized. Some people I had hoped to see are John Magaro or Orion Lee from First Cow, Jessie Buckley from I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Sidney Flanigan from Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Also, where the f*ck is Delroy Lindo from Da 5 Bloods?!? Frankly, looking the nominations over, I realize I’m not super invested in any of the acting categories this year. Perhaps that will change when I’ve watched more of these films. However, maybe it won’t. Since I’ve already watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, beyond the Best Picture nominees themselves, there are only five more films for me to see to fully cover all four categories.

In terms of other categories, I’m crushed that La Nuit des rois (Night of the Kings) from Côte d’Ivoire did not make it onto the International Feature list. When I saw it confirmed on the shortlist, I thought it would take the whole thing. While I didn’t publish an official round-up of 2020 films, La Nuit des rois is currently at #3 on my running list.

First Cow is #1 on that list, so naturally I’m rather sad to see it get completely shut out by the Academy. I think it could have gotten five or six nominations easily if it hadn’t come out so early in the year (though that was one reason I was able to see it in an actual theater). Oh well, I guess we will have to wait a little longer for Reichardt to get her due from the Directors branch.

The Ugly

Mank with 10 nominations. This film should have been right up my alley, but, sorry, it just wasn’t any good. The performances were fine given the script, but Marion Davies deserved better. And don’t even get me started on the cinematography. Aside from the black & white not even looking good (and there have been too many gorgeous black & white films lately to get away with that), there just didn’t seem a point to it. And I really missed color at times, given the rich interiors of San Simeon, the desert vistas, etc. My only consolation is that I don’t think it will come out of the ceremony with very much. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll just grin and bear it.

Oscar Blitz Plans

So, what will I be running out to see?

Well, nothing obviously, since we are still under shelter-in-place rules and there’s no way I am setting foot in a theater until I am vaccinated.

Luckily, as noted above, we have easy access to many of the major nominees via streaming. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to stream either The Father or Judas and the Black Messiah currently so I’ll probably knock off the other three Best Picture nominations first: I’ve been looking forward to both Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal for some time. I see The Trial of the Chicago 7 as somewhat of a chore, but to have only one “chore” Oscar Blitz film is pretty good considering recent years.

Speaking of which, I have zero desire to watch Hillbilly Elegy (2 nominations), but I guess I will since I see that the Math Greek has already put it in the Netflix queue. Do I want to watch Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2 nominations)? Definitely not. Will I? Probably not. We’ll see.

And I really don’t care about Mulan (2 nominations) or Soul (2 nominations). Or rather, I don’t care enough to subscribe to Disney+ for them. I might check out Pinocchio (2 nominations), but that would be mostly for the Italian rather than because of general interest. I’m definitely not paying for Tenet (2 nominations) though, that’s for sure.

Otherwise, the remaining films with multiple nominations that I will almost certainly get to are One Night in Miami…  (3 nominations), which is available on Amazon Prime, and Another Round  (2 nominations), available on Hulu.

I really want to see News of the World (4 nominations) but it is only available as a $20 rental at the moment, so that’s probably off the table for now, what with everything I want to get through for my other film projects. Damn, because you know I love a western. I hope it moves to a major streaming service soon, or at least before the awards telecast, which will air on Sunday, April 25.

What are your thoughts on the nominations? Feel free to add them in the comments and stay tuned over the next few weeks for my Oscar Blitz series with more details on all the major categories.