‘Joker’ leads Oscars nominations filled with unpredictable picks

January 24, 2020 — by Sina Salehi

When “Joker” was released back in October, the film received mixed reviews from critics. Some critics praised lead actor Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, while others found the film to be “dumb as hell.” 

Three months later, it’s gone on to be nominated for 11 Oscars, more than other highly acclaimed films such as “1917,” “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” all of which received 10 nominations for categories ranging from Best Makeup and Hair Design to Best Director. The Oscars will take place on Feb. 9 and will once again be hostless after seeing improved ratings (and less controversy) as a result of a no-host show last year.

The most contested category is likely to be Best Actor, which doesn’t seem to have a clear front runner. Besides Phoenix’s performance, there are the notable performances of Adam Driver in “Marriage Story,” Leonardo DiCaprio in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Antonio Banderas in “Pain and Glory.”

For Best Actor in a Supporting Role (an uneventful category typically) the two main contenders will likely be Tom Hanks for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Hanks received an Oscars nomination for the first time in 19 years, and a win would award him his third Oscar for his performance as Mr. Rogers. Pitt’s performance, however, drew far more publicity and will likely earn him his first Oscar in an acting category.

While less contested, Best Picture is still a competitive category and will feature surprises such as Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” and the first-ever Korean film to be nominated for Best Picture, “Parasite,” which already had successful runs at the Golden Globes and Cannes. However, given how the Academy favors films about the film industry itself, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the clear frontrunner for the award.

The most surprising aspects of this year’s nominations were those left out. Among those snubbed includes Awkwafina, who would have been the second Asian-American actress to be nominated for Best Actress, for her performance in “The Farewell.”

Another controversial snub was the exclusion of “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig, who was not nominated for the Best Director category, continuing the now two-year streak without a female director nominated. Without her, Quentin Tarantino will favored to win his first Oscar with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” but Sam Mendes is far likelier to win after the successful reception of “1917” by both audiences and critics alike.

Other controversies have arisen from the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations, especially in the category of Best Actress. The category had only one person of color nominated: Cynthia Ervio for her role in “Harriet.” 

With a lot of competition this year, there’s hope that this year’s Oscars will have a greater viewership than in previous years, and will continue a rise in viewership not seen until last year’s show.

Although this year’s nominations differ in style from the past, they still will provide some strong competition in each category that will hopefully prove for another entertaining awards show.