From the New York Times news section:
Oscar Nominations 2020: ‘Joker’ Leads With 11 Nods; Three Others Get 10
“The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “1917” each received 10 nominations. Black actors and actresses were largely overlooked.
The ongoing Not Enough Plaques for Blacks Crisis continues to mount.
By Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling
Jan. 13, 2020
Here’s what happened:
Little diversity in the acting categories.
Antonio Banderas and Florence Pugh are first-time nominees.
The Netflix slate stretches to best animated film.
LOS ANGELES — … Despite a plethora of diverse films competing for Oscar attention this year, the 9,000-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences largely maintained its traditional point of view, handing out the most nominations to four very male, very white movies. “Joker” (Warner Bros.), which portrays the DC Comics villain as sharing the psychological traits of real-life mass shooters, led all films with 11 nominations, including ones for best picture, director (Todd Phillips), actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and score (Hildur Gudnadottir).
It’s just a crazy hunch, but I’m betting that composer Hildur Gudnadottir is very white but not very male.
Sam Mendes’s visually dazzling World War I epic “1917” (Universal-Amblin) and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Sony) each received 10, including best picture recognition. “The Irishman” also collected 10, with Martin Scorsese receiving his ninth nomination for best director.
The best-picture category can have as many as 10 or as few as five nominees, depending on how voters spread their support. This year there were nine. Joining “Joker,” “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “1917” were “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women” and “Parasite.”
Little diversity in the acting categories.
Black actors and actresses were largely sidelined, with the British-Nigerian actress Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) as the sole nominee.
The academy has mounted an effort to double female and minority membership, in large part by inviting in more film professionals from overseas. But even after four years of the initiative, the organization remains 68 percent male and 84 percent white. The director’s branch again left out women, bypassing acclaimed work from Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and others.
Best Director, like Best Actor, is a tough category. For example, Ford v Ferrari got one of the nine Best Picture nominations, but James Mangold missed out on one of the five Best Director nods and Christian Bale didn’t get one of the five Best Actor nominations.
… Even so, the academy showed signs of progress with its recognition for Bong Joon Ho’s drama-comedy-horror mash-up “Parasite, which earned six nominations, including its best-picture nomination — the first ever for a South Korean film.
But aren’t South Koreans white-adjacent?
… The academy’s board of governors, alarmed by sharp declines in television ratings, decided in 2018 to move up this year’s ceremony. It will be held on Feb. 9, two weeks earlier than the last go-round, a seemingly small truncation that nonetheless has the movie capital in a tizzy.
They are finally following my 2014 suggestion to move the Oscars up to the Sunday night one week after Super Bowl Sunday.
And from the New York Times opinion section:
Jennifer Lopez didn’t get an Oscar nod for her career-best turn in “Hustlers.” Her snub highlights a larger problem with Hollywood’s Latinx representation.
By Carlos Aguilar
Mr. Aguilar is a film critic.
Jan. 13, 2020.
… Even more dispiriting is what Ms. Lopez’s snub means for Latinx representation more broadly — Ms. Lopez was the only Latinx performer with a real shot of recognition in the major categories this year and seemed to shoulder much of the burden of fending off another #OscarsSoWhite. (A kind reminder that the Spanish-born Antonio Banderas, who earned a deserved nomination for best actor for “Pain and Glory,” is not Latinx.)
The absence of Latinx representation is a longstanding issue for the academy. Had she been nominated, Ms. Lopez would have been the first American Latinx actress singled out by the academy since Rosie Perez, who earned a best supporting actress nod in 1994 for “Fearless.” The magnitude of this quarter-of-a-century gap might be difficult for some to understand at first — the entertainment industry tends to lump together American-born Latinxes, Latin Americans and Hispanics into a monolithic entity, inaccurately plumping numbers in otherwise well-intentioned studies about diversity.
Indeed, the grand total of American Latinx actors ever nominated for film’s highest acting honors totals is four: In addition to Ms. Perez, they are Rita Moreno (who won in 1962), José Ferrer (a winner in 1951) and Edward James Olmos (nominated in 1989).
He is missing the American-born half-Mexican Susan Kohner (mother of the Weitz Brothers of American Pie) who was nominated for Best Actress for Imitation of Life in 1959. Also, Mexican-born and part-Irish part-Mexican Anthony Quinn was in America from adolescence, and he won two Oscars and was a sizable box office star back in the day. In general, actors of Mexican descent (e.g., Ricardo Montalban) were more popular in old time Hollywood, with its Latin Lover archetype, than in modern Hollywood.
If only American-born Latinxes were considered in the data research focused on diversity in studio productions and what types of roles they are offered, calling the results dismal would be an understatement. And then there’s the fact that no American Latinx filmmaker has ever been nominated for the best director Academy Award, in part because they are rarely considered to helm the “prestige” films Oscar voters are usually attracted to.
It’s evident that an illusion of inclusion in relation to Latinx people has permeated Hollywood over the past decade. The heavily decorated Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro — collectively referred to as “the Three Amigos” — have served as a flimsy Band-Aid to an industry that heralds their accomplishments as proof that everyone who matches their idea of Latinx is being celebrated.
… And stateside Latinx creators have been virtually erased both onscreen and behind the camera.
This year, without any of the men in the overachieving trio in the race, the mirage of collective advancement has vanished. While the Mexican cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto received his third nomination, for “The Irishman,”
Prieto’s grandfather was mayor of Mexico City. Good cinematographers come out of Mexico City, like 3 time Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubetzki.
2019 was a good year for me as a movie reviewer since, mostly through sheer laziness, I managed to avoid wasting my time watching and reviewing insignificant movies, while dragging myself to most of the better ones. Here are my reviews of nominees:
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- The Irishman
- Ford v Ferrari
- Knives Out
- Little Women
- Richard Jewell
I’ve also seen Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which is a very good neo-Woody Allen comedy-drama with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansen, plus oldtimers Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta as their divorce lawyers. It’s like if Annie Hall and Alvy Singer got married and then got divorced over whether to live in L.A. or N.Y. It’s currently on Netflix.
Uncut Gems, a drama with Adam Sandler as a gem dealer with a sports betting addiction, got shut out. My wife found it extremely engaging but I didn’t like it quite as much. It’s definitely not bad, but it seems to split viewers as to whether it's terrific or meh. My impression is that in general individuals either like or don’t like it, depending upon how much they feel sorry for Sandler’s character, and it’s a little hard to predict which ahead of time. So you might give it a try.
My review of the war movie 1917 will be in Takimag.com on Wednesday morning.