The Biggest 2019 Oscars Snubs And Surprises

Look, we're the first to admit that the entire concept of an "Oscar snub" is a little bit silly. It's not like everyone in the Academy gets together and secretly plots to teach a filmmaker or actor a lesson by refusing to nominate them for a golden statuette. That's simply not how it works on any level. And yet, it can't help but feel deliberate and personal because we're dealing with an award that can make or break careers. When someone who was supposed to get nominated gets left out, it feels weirdly personal.

So, as is tradition, let's run down the biggest "snubs" from this year's freshly announced Oscar nominations. And to balance it out, we're also going to talk about the biggest surprises...although to honest, the snubs far outweigh the surprises this year.

Snub: If Beale Street Could Talk in Best Picture and Director Categories

If Beale Street Could Talk is Barry Jenkins' lush, achingly gorgeous follow-up film to his Oscar-winning 2016 film Moonlight. And yet the film only received three nods, despite the buzz around Jenkins' direction and the film's dozens of nominations at preceding award shows. The film was snubbed notably for Best Picture despite its Golden Globe best drama nod and its win at the Critics Choice Awards. And as a former Best Director nominee and the man behind arguably the best-directed film of 2018, Jenkins' snub in the Best Director category is egregious. His mastery of color, light, and sound melds into a devastatingly beautiful film that is one of the most visually stunning films of the year. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: Black Panther is the First Superhero Movie to Get a Best Picture Nod

Well, it's happened: a superhero movie has been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Black Panther was a smash hit with critics and audiences alike and it has been steadily picking up nominations left and right this awards season, so this shouldn't be a surprise. And yet, a lot of us were expecting this one to get snubbed when it came time for the biggest awards. But nope, the Academy has recognized what Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios have crafted here. Welcome to Prestige Land, comic book movies. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler Was Not Nominated

It's always a little weird when a movie lands a Best Picture nom, but not Best Director. The Academy took the time to make Black Panther the first comic book movie ever nominated for Best Picture, and surely, the credit for that rests with Ryan Coogler. But Coogler is suspiciously absent from the list, and that's a bummer. In his short career, he's already proven he's a force to be reckoned with. In other words, he's going to land that Best Director nomination sooner or later. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: First Man Was Completely Shut Out of Major Categories

A year ago, Damien Chazelle's follow-up to La La Land was looking like the movie to beat at the Academy Awards. And then the reviews were mixed and the box office fizzled and everyone forgot about this quiet, humane Neil Armstrong biopic. And that's a shame: it's one of the best movies of last year, Ryan Gosling's lead performance is a marvel, and that score is, pardon the pun, out of this world. But aside from a handful of well-deserved technical nominations, this one was abandoned on the dark side of the moon. (Jacob Hall)

Surprise: The Two Acting Nominations For Roma

Perhaps my most pleasant surprise came courtesy of the two acting nominations for Roma: Yalitza Aparicio for Best Actress and Marina De Tavira for Best Supporting Actress. To be clear, both of these performances are wonderful – especially Aparicio, in her first acting gig ever. But I had just assumed the Academy would overlook them. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: No Burning for Best Foreign Language Film

South Korea has a grand total of zero Oscar nominations. Yes, Suicide Squad has more Oscars than the entire country of South Korea. But this was supposed to be the turning point: the year when South Korea would earn its first Foreign-Language Oscar nomination. Lee Chang-dong's Burning was a critically acclaimed film that became the country's first selection to make it to the Oscar shortlist. The eerie psycho-sexual thriller swept the film festival circuit, competing for the Cannes Film Festival's Palme D'Or and winning multiple international awards. With the momentum from the critical acclaim and the presence of its Asian-American supporting actor, Steven Yeun — who delivered a chilling performance that in another world would have also received a Best Supporting Actor nod — Burning seemed primed to be nominated. But despite Lee Chang-dong's deft direction and the film's unsettling impact, Burning was snubbed and South Korea remains without an Oscar. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: Cold War and Never Look Away Received Cinematography Nominations

I'm not entirely surprised by Cold War's Best Cinematography nom – the Academy loves when things are shot in black and white. I am, however, taken aback by their nomination of Never Look Away, simply because...I've never heard of it. And I write about movies for a living. The German drama had almost no buzz going into awards season, but scooped up this nomination anyway. (Chris Evangelista)

Surprise: Cold War Landing a Best Director Nod

Pawe? Pawlikowski's black-and-white romance Cold War earned raves from every critic who saw it, but even that number was miniscule. With a small band of fans touting the Polish film and and even smaller audience, Cold War seemed destined to earn a cold shoulder from the Academy as all eyes focused on Alfonso Cuaron's Roma to sweep both the Foreign Language and top awards categories. Sure Pawlikowski won the Cannes Best Director Award, but rarely does that translate to Stateside awards love. But while the film earned an expected Foreign-Language nod, Pawlikowski swooped in from left-field with his Best Director nomination. Rare is it that a foreign film director will earn a nod in this category, but this year we have two, and one for a little-seen, though critically beloved, film. I guess everyone has to see Cold War now. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: Border's Best Make-Up Nomination

I wasn't expecting Border, a supernatural love story that is as odd as it is lovely, to receive any love from the Academy. So its nomination for Best Make-Up is a pleasant surprise – that means members of the voting body actually watched this twisted and beautiful tale of non-humans finding love in a human world. And the nod is well-deserved, as the film capably transforms its two leads into creatures while allowing their mesmerizing performances to shine through. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Suspiria Not Receiving a Best Make-Up Nomination

Suspiria may have been a box office dud, but its creative, high-concept make-up effects made it feel like a shoo-in for this category. But nope. Here is a film where Tilda Swinton plays three characters, one of them a decaying, bloated, ancient witch and the other an elderly man. Here is a film where the grotesque horrors are rendered practically, lending a physicality to some truly disquieting scenes. Hey, Academy: your anti-horror bias is showing. (Jacob Hall)

Surprise: Everything for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, But Especially Best Song

I enjoyed the Coen Brothers' quirky Western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I had no inkling it would pick up any nominations – especially for Best Song. The fact that the goofy, charming "When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings", which plays out like a parody of every old cowboy song, got a nod from the Academy is pretty damn funny. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: No Mary Poppins Returns for Picture, Director, and Additional Song Nods

Disney was positioning Mary Poppins Returns as a major awards contender, but little came of it. No Best Picture nomination, no Best Director nomination for Rob Marshall, and no Best Actress nomination for Emily Blunt. It was even a slight disappointment in the Best Original Song category, where it was nominated for only "The Place Where Lost Things Go" and not "Trip a Little Light Fantastic," despite both making the final shortlist for the category (and the latter is the much better song). (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Bradley Cooper Didn't Get a Best Director Nomination

The Academy loves actors-turned-directors, but for whatever reason, Bradley Cooper failed to pick up a nomination for directing A Star is Born. It's not like he was ignored: he was nominated for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture (as he was also a producer on the film), which makes his absence in this category all-the-more glaring and strange. Once upon a time, this was the film to beat in the Best Picture race, but Cooper's absence suggests that something may have gone awry. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Peter Farrelly Didn't Get a Best Director Nomination

I'm fine with this, as Green Book shouldn't be picking up so many nominations to begin with. That said, I had all but assumed Farrelly would still land a nod with all the awards season hype surrounding his film. Perhaps that article surfacing where it was revealed the director liked to expose himself to colleagues as a "joke" in the past swayed the Academy. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: Won't You Be My Neighbor Shut Out of Best Documentary

While the Best Documentary category is stacked with terrific movies like Free Solo and Minding the Gap, the most commercially successful doc of 2018 was left in the dust. Won't You Be My Neighbor may have reduced audiences to tears at Sundance before turning regular folks into blubbering messes during its strong theatrical run, but that didn't translate to Oscar love. A month ago, many were expecting this film to win the category. But it didn't even get a nomination and we're at a loss to explain why. (Jacob Hall)

Surprise: Willem Dafoe's Best Actor Nomination

Willem Dafoe is one of this year's few back-to-back nominees, earning a nod for his performance in At Eternity's Gate after his career-best turn in 2017's The Florida Project. But his role in At Heaven's Gate is nothing to sneeze at: Dafoe delivers a subtly tragic performance as the legendary artist Vincent van Gogh in his final years, effectively carrying Julian Schnabel's beautiful but slight film. Dafoe earned nominations for his performance at several award shows and film festivals, including the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards, but the buzz all but disappeared following the film's quiet September release. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Snub: Ethan Hawke's Lack of a Best Actor Nomination

Will God Ever Forgive Us for not nominating Ethan Hawke for First Reformed? No, he won't. Hawke gave the best performance of his career as the tormented priest at the center of his existential drama, and yet, the Academy overlooked him completely. It's enough to make you want to pour yourself a scotch and Pepto cocktail. (Chris Evangelista)

Surprise: Paul Schrader Was Nominated for His First Reformed Screenplay

Paul Schrader wrote and directed one of the most challenging films of 2018 with First Reformed, which many critics had accepted would become a critical but not an awards darling. It was too sad, too harsh, too slow for the Academy despite Ethan Hawke's powerhouse performance and the film's profound message about environmental devastation. But Schrader's legacy as the screenwriter behind Martin Scorsese classics like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull must have some clout at the Academy, because he earned a surprise nomination for First Reformed's screenplay. But thankfully it's a pleasant surprise that suggests the Academy is willing to reward provocative and radical films. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: A Strong Showing For Can You Ever Forgive Me

While it's disappointing that Can You Ever Forgive Me didn't slip into the Best Picture race, Marielle Heller's sad, funny drama still managed to grab three nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for Melissa McCarthy, and Best Supporting Actor for Richard E. Grant. It's a small victory for one of last year's most overlooked and wonderful movies, but we'll take it. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: No Female Best Director Nominees

2018 may have been one of the best years for female director visibility in recent memory, with women helming critical hits and festival darlings like Debra Granik's Leave No Trace, Chloe Zhao's The Rider, and Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here. And of course, there was Marielle Heller behind the acclaimed Can You Ever Forgive Me, which made an impressive showing in the Oscar categories with three nods. But sadly, critical praise does not translate to awards love, as the Best Director category once again remains a sausage fest. Not even Heller scored a spot. To this day, the number of female directors nominated for a Best Director Oscar can be counted on one hand. And with so many viable female candidates this year, the Oscars prove that they're still behind the times. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Snub: Absolutely Nothing for Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade had a lot of buzz, particularly for its script by Bo Burnham, and Elsie Fisher's breakout performance. But the indie didn't get any Academy love, making this one of A24's weakest showings at the Oscars yet. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: Nothing for Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman, or Emily Blunt

Here's a trio of surprising snubs. Toni Collette's astonishing performance in Hereditary was considered a dark horse contender in the Best Actress race, and many were predicting an upset. No dice. If the best performance of 2018 is in a horror movie, the Academy won't notice. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman's tremendous work in Destroyer was also overlooked, despite her transformative performance being the main reason the movie works. Also absent from the Best Actress race: Emily Blunt, who could've (and should've) been nominated for A Quiet Place or Mary Poppins Returns, but is nowhere to be found. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Nothing For Bryan Tyree Henry and Hugh Grant

Brian Tyree Henry has earned buzz for not one, but two performances in major critically acclaimed films this year: as a threatening crime boss in Widows and as an ebullient ex-con in If Beale Street Could Talk. Despite his short screen time in both films, Henry made an outsized impact, earning calls for a Best Supporting Actor nod for either film. But alas, he got shut out of the Oscars and the awards circuit entirely. Hugh Grant's hysterical, vanity-free performance as the villain in Paddington 2 did slightly better in the lead-up to the Oscars, with the actor winning earning a BAFTA nod and even winning at the London Film Critics' Circle Award. However, the family film's early-year release didn't do Grant any favors, and the love for this practically perfect film didn't survive the trip across the Atlantic. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Snub: Absolutely Nothing for Widows

Poor Widows. I know reviews for the film had been rather mixed, but I remain a steadfast fan, and was really hoping for at least an acting nom or two. Elizabeth Debicki's incredible performance alone should've been recognized. Instead, the movie was completely overlooked from top to bottom. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: Not a Single Technical Nod for Mission: Impossible – Fallout

How? How is this possible? Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a technical marvel, full of incredible stunt work, action-packed cinematography, seamless special effects, and more. And yet...the Academy ignored it. Tom Cruise didn't almost die for our sins to be wronged this way, Academy. (Chris Evangelista)

Snub: Crazy Rich Asians Shut Out

Crazy Rich Asians was a watershed moment in pop culture for Asian-Americans, and a critical and commercial hit. It earned nominations at multiple awards shows including the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It was one of the few comedies this year to earn any awards love. And yet Crazy Rich Asians got completely shut out of the Oscars, without even a Best Screenplay nod for Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim's witty and emotionally poignant script. Cultural impact sometimes spreads to the awards as we saw with Black Panther, but when it comes to Asian-Americans, they sadly remain invisible. (Hoai-Tran Bui)