Who will be celebrating Oscar morning? Brad Pitt for sure. Jennifer Lopez almost certainly. And very possibly the Obamas, too.
Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards, which began yesterday, should bring plenty of star power to the February 9 ceremony — a good thing, too, since the show will for the second straight year go without a host.
Thankfully, this Oscar year isn’t lacking for drama. Netflix is gunning for its first best picture win, a year after Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma fell just short. It has not just one but at least two contenders led by Martin Scorsese’s elegiac crime epic The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s intimate divorce drama Marriage Story.
But in the lead-up to yesterday’s nominations, much of the momentum has gone to a pair of movies that exalt the big screen with showmanship and celebrity: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, with Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Sam Mendes’ continuous World War I thrill ride, 1917. Hollywood, in the midst of a streaming upheaval, has so far favoured the traditionally released movies.
Still, no definite front-runner has emerged, and nominations morning could tip the scales anew in a rapid-paced awards season that, while not lacking for the usual battery of parties, screenings and Q&As, is more condensed than usual.
The nominations, to be read by Issa Rae and John Cho, will be live streamed on Oscar.com, Oscars.org and the academy’s digital social platforms.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences select anywhere from five to 10 nominees for best picture, depending on how many first-placed votes a film gets. That’s usually meant eight or nine movies. This year, the precursor guild nominations have suggested the sure things are Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, 1917, The Irishman, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit and Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite.
That leaves a few slots to be battled out by Joker, Little Women, Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out, Bombshell and The Farewell.
Parasite will be the first Korean film ever nominated for an Oscar but it’s likely to land several nominations, including Bong for best director and possibly Song Kang Ho for best supporting actor.
The director category will be especially closely watched. Though Greta Gerwig (Little Women) is a possibility, the academy is expected to nominate an all-male field despite a year in which women made significant gains behind the camera. The academy has nominated only men for best director in all but five years; Gerwig was the last woman nominated, two years ago.
In the acting categories, Renee Zellweger (Judy) has consistently led the best actress contenders. Should Awkwafina be nominated, she would be only the second woman of Asian descent nominated in the category. (The first, 1936 nominee Merle Oberon, hid her South Asian heritage.)
Pitt has a lock on the supporting actor Oscar, which would be his first ever. Laura Dern (Marriage Story) and Lopez have led the supporting actress nominees. A nomination would be the first for Lopez.
The best actor category, after a few lackluster years, has been especially competitive, with Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story) as the most entrenched nominees in a field including DiCaprio, Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) and Robert De Niro (The Irishman).
While a similar result is unlikely, the British Film Academy last week nominated an all-white field of acting nominees. Widely criticised, the BAFTAs pledged to review its awards process.
Beyoncé will likely add an Oscar nomination to her many honours, for her Lion King song. American Factory, the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, is likely to be among the documentary nominees.
After the most dominant box-office year in Hollywood history, the Walt Disney Co will have reasons to celebrate, though their top films — including the record-setting Marvel blockbuster Avengers: Endgame — are expected to be largely relegated to categories like best visual effects.
The studio, which has never won a best picture Academy Award, does have a few contenders via its acquisition in April of 20th Century Fox.
Both Ford v Ferrari and Jojo Rabbit (released by specialty label Fox Searchlight) will compete in the top categories.
The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on February 9 in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre. ABC will again broadcast the show, viewership for which last year rose 12 per cent to 29.6 million.