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:

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“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”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“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).



  1. Law of averages it was bound to happen sooner or later. When they expanded the field in 2010 it was because there were too many snubs. This year there were a lot of goood movies, but not a lot of great films.

    This isn’t to take away from Ryan Coogler as I am a huge fan of Fruitvale Station, Creed and Black Panther. But one of the prestige pictures designed to win lands and Black Panther is the odd pic out.

  2. I’ll be happy as long as Best Picture doesn’t go to “Green Book” or “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Imagine the embarrassment if Bryan Singer had gotten a Best Director nod for “Rhapsody,” a movie he was fired from.

    For me, the real surprise was “Black Klansman”‘s nomination. It’s the kind of edgy, angry, in-your-face movie that Oscar’s elderly voters usually snub. See: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” which wasn’t even nominated 30 years ago.

    Glad “Black Panther” got its historic nod, though I doubt it’ll win. The most likely winners are “Roma” (Oscar voters have been nuts over Mexican directors lately), “The Favourite” (the voters love British accents), and “Green Book” (the sort of feel-good, middle-of-the-road, brotherhood-of-man drivel they’ve always loved).

  3. “Skippy – based on the Percy Crosby comic strip, was actually the first”

    And Norman Taurog won Best Director for “Skippy.” He went on to direct a lot of Jerry Lewis and Elvis movies — and Vincent Price in the immortal “Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.”

  4. “Roma” is showing in a few theaters in a few big cities. None of them within 500 miles of where I live, though.

    It needed a token theatrical release to qualify for Oscars. I regard “Roma” as a made-for-TV movie that got some theatrical bookings — like Spielberg’s “Duel” in the early ’70s.

  5. Black Panther is an average movie that was nominated because the pressure of PC patrol.

    Blackkklansman nomination is a belated attempt to amend an injustice. Do the Right Thing should be nominated (and awarded) in 1990. However it was too ballsy and was not appreciated by mediocre Hollywood academics. They prefer a formulaic movie like Black Panther produced by a studio with the goal to make money and create a tourist attraction in a theme park.

    There were better films than the overrated BP (for instance Mission Impossible: Fallout). However what to expect of the Academy that awarded mediocrities like The Artist, Driving Miss Daisy, A Beautiful Mind, The King Speech, Crash, Rain Man etc.

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