My 2020 Oscar Nominations Reactions

The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced yesterday morning. While they didn’t hold too many surprises, there were some things that jumped out at me.

1. My “no guts, no glory” prediction that Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) would sneak into that fifth Best Actor slot came true! It was a tough prediction, considering Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) and Taron Egerton (Rocketman) were favored to get in, but my heart and my gut said Pryce would snag his first career nom and I was right. He’s so well deserving, not just for this film, but for an entire career. So that’s what made me the happiest.

2. What made me the least happy was seeing Todd Phillips get the fifth slot for Best Director. It’s no secret that I despised Joker as a film, feeling it was not only massively depressing with no character arc, but it also felt, to me, like a total rip-off of other movies. While Joaquin Phoenix’s performance (more on that later) was truly phenomenal, the movie left me quite cold. To see that it led the field with the most nominations (11) was disturbing enough, but when I saw that Phillips got the coveted final Best Director slot over the likes of Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Celine Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) or Lulu Wang (The Farewell) was hard to swallow.

3. And yes, there were no women nominated for directing….again. But I really wasn’t expecting there to be one. We need to get quantity before the Academy starts praising quality, so let’s just see MORE films directed by women, then we can start screaming about them being ignored.

4. While I went 5-for-5 on my predictions for both Best Actor and Best Actress (and 8-for-9 for Best Picture), I missed two of five in predicting Best Supporting Actress. While my hope for Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell) was a long shot, I – and the rest of the world – was pretty shocked that Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) didn’t get recognized. While I did NOT like the movie, I did think that Lopez’s performance was interesting and worthy of attention. The Academy didn’t agree. Instead of Shuzhen and Lopez, they nominated two traditional performances from Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) and Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) instead, which reminds us exactly who the Academy still is, even with all their attempts to diversify.

5. Speaking of Johansson, she scored the coveted double nomination, getting nominated both for Supporting and Lead Actress in the same year. Her Best Actress nom came for Marriage Story. I always like to point out when this happens because it reminds me of my favorite time it happened, in 1983 when Jessica Lange scored the best double nomination of all time, getting noms for Best Actress for Frances and Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie (which she won). The double nom has happened only 12 times, the last time being in 2007 when Cate Blanchett did it. (In case you’re curious, of those 12, the actor/actress has won one of the awards 7 times. Nobody has ever won both in the same year—yet.)

6. Best Actor is a tough category, but Joaquin Phoenix should easily win. His performance in Joker is truly staggering.

7. Directors Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and Greta Gerwig (Little Women) are the first real-life couple to have competing Best Picture nominations ever, I think. The last time I remember it even coming close was in 2010, when former couple Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and James Cameron (Avatar) were competing. Not only are Gerwig and Baumbach’s movies both nominated for the big prize, they are each individually nominated for the screenplays of their films, but they are not competing against each other, as Baumbach’s script is original and Gerwig’s is adapted.

8. North Macedonia’s Honeyland pulled a very rare double nomination for both Best International Feature AND Best Documentary. While the film is incredible, I would have preferred Portrait of a Lady on Fire to have gotten its International Feature slot instead. It really didn’t need both.

9. I was thrilled to see the 5 nominees for Best Animated Feature. I loved all five movies and think they are all deserving. Plus, I actually interviewed two of the directors!

10. I’m bummed that the editing branch didn’t recognize the work of Lee Smith on 1917. Didn’t anyone read my interview with him???

11. On the other hand, the Cinematographers DID know what they were doing, when they nominated The Lighthouse for Best Cinematography. What a gorgeous film. But, again, Portrait of a Lady on Fire was ignored here, too, when it was so much better than The Irishman. Ugh.

12. Pay attention to this when you are making your Best Picture final guesses: VERY often, the winner for Best Picture also wins the Oscar for Best Editing. This year, neither Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood or 1917 were even nominated in the category. What could this mean? We shall see….

Click here to see the full list of nominations.

OK, so we’ve got only 25 days to the big night, so get out there and get caught up on all the nominees and don’t forget to watch on Sunday, February 9 on ABC. It should be fun!