The titular Joker of Joker celebrates 11 nominations (photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards, honoring what they consider the best films 2019 had to offer. There were few surprises among the nominees, but more than a few disappointments.

The critically beloved sleeper hit Uncut Gems was completely shut out, for example. Yet again, the acting nominees were almost entirely white people, save Cynthia Erivo. (Scarlett Johansson got two of those nominations! Two! Fully a tenth of the acting nods are Scarlett Johansson.) Most glaringly, Jennifer Lopez and Awkwafina were snubbed for their turns in Hustlers and The Farewellrespectively. No women were nominated for Best Director, which is especially notable given that Little Women was otherwise nominated for six awards, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and director Greta Gerwig was previously nominated for her debut solo feature Lady Bird. (Please note that in the 92-year history of the Oscars, they have nominated a grand total of five female directors for this award, with but a single winner: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.) In the stead of such films and performances, the Academy elected to overwhelmingly laud The Irishman (nice), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (sure), 1917 (uhhh…), with 10 nominations each, and to give Joker (yep) 11.

We go through a similar reaction cycle of disgust and dismay at the Oscar noms every year, and this one has been no different, particularly with people memeing announcement host Issa Rae’s reaction to the all-male director slate. And the reason for the most egregious snubs and most baffling nominations remains the same as well: Even after a recent diversity push, the AMPAS voting body remains overwhelmingly white, male, and old. These are people voting based on DVDs that are mailed to them, with their decision of which DVDs to actually watch based heavily on the specially tailored PR campaigns directed at them, as well as their favoritism for their buddies in the industry.

Of course, sometimes the archaic system works in favor of good movies! The most pleasant news of the nominations is that our fave Parasite snagged six noms, including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay. Despite the terrific work coming out of South Korea for many years now, this is the very first Korean picture to be nominated for Best International Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film), meaning this move reflects badly on the Academy almost as much as it deserves kudos. (Also of note, In the Absence, made mainly by a Korean crew, which you can stream here, is nominated for Best Documentary Short.) It’s uncommon but not unheard-of for a non-English film to get Oscar attention outside the Best Foreign Language/International Film category. It largely depends on word of mouth, and Parasite’s unusual box office success and big awards push from distributor Neon paid off big time.

Here are the nominees for some of the more notable awards. You can read the full list of nominations here.

Best Picture

  • Ford v Ferrari (Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and James Mangold)
  • The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff)
  • Jojo Rabbit (Carthew Neal and Taika Waititi)
  • Joker (Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff)
  • Little Women (Amy Pascal)
  • Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach and David Heyman)
  • 1917 (Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and Callum McDougall)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino)
  • Parasite (Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho)

Best Director

  • Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
  • Sam Mendes, 1917
  • Todd Phillips, Joker
  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Documentary Feature

  • American Factory (Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, and Jeff Reichert)
  • The Cave (Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod, and Sigrid Dyekjaer)
  • The Edge of Democracy (Petra Costa, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris, and Tiago Pavan)
  • For Sama (Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts)
  • Honeyland (Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, and Atanas Georgiev)

Best Actress

  • Cynthia Erivo as the eponymous Harriet Tubman in Harriet
  • Scarlett Johansson as Nicole Barber in Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, one of the four titular little women in Little Women
  • Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell
  • Renée Zellweger as the titular Judy Garland in Judy

Best Actor

  • Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Adam Driver as Charlie Barber in Marriage Story
  • Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck / the eponymous Joker in Joker
  • Jonathan Pryce as one of the two titular popes in The Two Popes

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Anthony Hopkins as the other titular pope in The Two Popes
  • Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman
  • Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman
  • Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kathy Bates as Bobi Jewell, the mother of the titular Richard Jewell in Richard Jewell
  • Laura Dern as Nora Fanshaw in Marriage Story
  • Scarlett Johansson again, this time as Rosie Beltzer, the mother of the titular Jojo in Jojo Rabbit
  • Florence Pugh as Amy March, another one of the four titular little women in Little Women
  • Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell

Best Original Screenplay

  • Knives Out (Rian Johnson)
  • Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach)
  • 1917 (Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Parasite (Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Irishman (Steven Zaillian, based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt)
  • Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens)
  • Joker (Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, based on characters created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson)
  • Little Women (Greta Gerwig, based on the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
  • The Two Popes (Anthony McCarten, based on his own play The Pope)

The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will take place Sunday, February 9, airing on ABC.

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.

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