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My Nominations for the 2019 Academy Awards

For most movie fans, the Oscars hold a certain masochistic fun. They are a large, diverse voting body that often represents both the best and worst aspects of the film community. (This is the same organization that gave Moonlight Best Picture in 2016, but years prior chose to award Crash over Brokeback Mountain.) It is nearly impossible to stop rooting for them, even as they continue to disappoint. 

2018 was one of the best years in film we’ve seen this century. It was bold and sprawling, the kind of creative epicenter where a raunchy teen comedy came out swinging (and winning!) in Kay Cannon’s Blockers, and Lady Gaga turned in one of the best performances of the year (A Star is Born). We saw some monumental documentary work (Minding the Gap, Hale County This Morning, This Evening), the resurrection of the spiritual art film (First Reformed), and Orson Welles’s final film premiered on Netflix (!). Everywhere you look in movies this year, there is some gem lurking around the corner, waiting to be discovered. So why, then, are the Oscar nominations so ridiculously boring?

I’ve often felt that the better the year in film, the more the Oscars get it wrong. Or maybe it is that the more diverse the pool of movies is, the more obvious it becomes that the Oscars love to play it safe. They prefer broad, easy messages that leave them feeling good and happy. Green Book is Driving Miss Daisy all over again, a movie they awarded in 1989 over Spike Lee’s explosive, complicated Do the Right Thing. The Oscars love message movies that they don’t have to think too hard about, and they especially don’t want to have to think about themselves. Green Book presents a broad portrait of racism as well as an equally broad solution. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’s gorgeous and tragic adaptation of the James Baldwin novel, does not. It presents racism as it was and as it is today: messy, complicated, and everywhere. And so Green Book is nominated across the board in all the major categories, and Beale Street is conspicuously absent.

That is not to say that everything went south with the nominations this year. Spike Lee finally got a directing nod for the terrific BlacKkKlansman. Roma, a Mexican and Mixtec film (in black and white!), led the pack with 10 nominations, and is currently posed to take home the biggest trophy, which would be the first time a foreign language film won Best Picture in the Academy’s 91 years. The documentary feature nominations are particularly inspired, with films like Minding the Gap and the especially underground Hale County This Morning, This Evening getting recognition. 

And yet, still, there are no female directing nominations despite a plethora of great work this year: Tamara Jenkins (Private Life), Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro), Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Chloe Zhao (The Rider), Jennifer Fox (The Tale), Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline), Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here). The list goes on.

And no Ethan Hawke. Which is simply unacceptable.

It is easy to rag on the Oscars, and even a little fun. There is, of course, a certain pride we gain from proving how much more aware we are of film than them. But it is also important that we raise these criticisms, because as often out-dated and out-of-touch the Academy can be, they are still incredibly powerful. Moonlight winning Best Picture means something. Hell, any film winning an Academy Award means something. It gives that film power and importance, and most importantly, it communicates to the larger world that these films are worth making. Which is why we don’t just want the Oscars to be better; we need them to be. The world does not need more Green Books. It does need more Beale Streets.


And so, with all that righteous preamble, I present my personal nominations, and winners, for the 2019 Academy Awards. I am, of course, one person and my lists come with flaws. (The most obvious being that due to limited releases and my location, I have yet to see Burning, Shoplifters, or Cold War. Believe me, however, I’m trying to.) I have also only chose to present nominations in the categories that I feel I have seen enough films in, which is why Animated Feature and Documentary Feature are absent.

(Winners are in bold.)

Best Picture

First Man

First Reformed

Happy as Lazzaro

If Beale Street Could Talk


Minding the Gap

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The Favourite




Best Director

Alice Rohrwacher, Happy as Lazzaro

Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Damien Chazelle, First Man

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Steve McQueen, Widows


Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You

Ryan Gosling, First Man


Best Actress

Carey Mulligan, Wildlife

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Toni Colette, Hereditary

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma


Best Supporting Actor

Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk

John Cena, Blockers

Sam Elliot, A Star is Born

Simon Russell Beale, The Death of Stalin

Timotheé Chalamet, Beautiful Boy


Best Supporting Actress

Andrea Riseborough, Mandy

Blake Lively, A Simple Favor

Elizabeth Debicki, The Tale

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk


Best Cinematography

Alexander Dynan, First Reformed

Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

James Laxton, If Beale Street Could Talk

Linus Sandgren, First Man

Robbie Ryan, The Favourite


Best Original Score

Jóhann Jóhannson, Mandy

Johnny Greenwood, You Were Never Really Here

Justin Hurwitz, First Man

Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk

Thom Yorke, Suspiria


Best Adapted Screenplay

A Star is Born

If Beale Street Could Talk

The Little Stranger




Best Original Screenplay


Private Life

Support the Girls

The Death of Stalin

The Favourite

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