It’s that time of the year again, when people wake up at 5 am on the West Coast to hear who and what has been nominated for the Academy Awards. And while we usually only run down what we call the “nerd categories” over here at the Beat, let’s do something slightly different…here’s the line-up for Best Picture:
“A Star Is Born”
While it’s hard not to overlook the EMBARRASSING nomination for Bohemian Rhapsody (and to a slightly lesser extent, Green Book), let’s be positive and instead celebrate Black Panther – the first ever comic book-based film to be nominated for Best Picture. It’s the end of a long road for respectability within this voting for the genre that stretches back to 2008, when The Dark Knight was snubbed in favor of The Reader. Since then, various contenders have knocked on that same door like Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool and Logan, the latter of which was nominated for Best Adapted screenplay, but none have claimed the big nomination prize. But now we’re here, hats off to Kevin Feige, Ryan Coogler and everyone else involved in making it happen. It’s a landmark achievement. 7 nominations in total by the way, including Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score, Original Song, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
But it wasn’t the only comic book related film to get a nomination – nope, nope, nope; check out the Best Animated Feature category:
“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
An honestly more impressive nominee slate than Best Picture, especially between Isle of Dogs, Mirai and Spider-Man, but Into The Spider-Verse was 2018’s end of year big critical darling and a film people cannot stop talking about. I certainly fell under its spell too, and it’s easily my pick for the winner of this category, no matter how much the Academy likes Pixar – and they like them a lot.
As for the remaining categories that we usually cover:
Best Animated Short:
“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez
Best Visual Effects:
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
I’m super weak on the Animated Shorts this year, but I saw Bao in front of Incredibles 2, and lots of people I know like Weekends. That’s about the extent of my knowledge. Visual Effects on the other hand, I’m rather bummed that Aquaman wasn’t even a consideration on the short-list for this category, but of the five here – I think First Man is probably the most impressive visual spectacle. Usually this category is reserved for Best Blockbuster, but with Ready Player One and Solo in contention, I don’t think that argument holds as much water this year. So, let’s go with the actual achievement – that moon landing sequence was pretty great after all.
Any other surprises? Well, I was shocked that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? didn’t make the Best Documentary cut, given that it’s been THE documentary every critic I know has seen and loved. And Pawel Pawlikowski slipping in for Best Director gives us TWO foreign film directors in that category (likely winner Alfonso Cuaron being the other). I don’t know if that’s happened before (edit: turns out it last happened in 1976! Neat!). And speaking of Roma, Marina de Tavira getting a Best Supporing Actress nod is also commendable.
We’re a month away! Get your Oscar pools together folks!
(Edit: Originally this article stated Black Panther was the first comic book film nominated for Best Picture, but that was not correct. As Newsarama’s Chris Arrant pointed out on twitter, 1930’s Skippy – based on the Percy Crosby comic strip, was actually the first).