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The Academy Awards: What's Nominated, What's Not - and What Should Have Been

January 14, 2020 | By


The nominations for this year's Academy Awards were released on Monday, Jan. 13, and, of course, everybody has an opinion. We're no exception.

The comic-inspired Joker racked up 11 nominations, including Best Picture, but says this is "a joke" and calls the movie "dumb." Robert DeNiro was in that movie, but his other project, Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, earned 10 noms (not for DeNiro, though, who plays the title character, but for supporting stars Al Pacino and Joe Pesci).

Some are up in arms over the snubs of women directors, including Greta Gerwig for the critically acclaimed Little Women, even though the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel got a Best Picture nod; and others are outraged because Jennifer Lopez was passed over for the black-comedy/crime-drama Hustlers.

And, many in Hollywood are grousing because Netflix is producing feature films that get a theatrical release, but that didn't stop the Oscar voters from giving the streaming giant more noms than any single traditional Hollywood studio. Among the projects given nods were The Irishman, The Two Popes, Marriage Story and the (I thought, delightful) Christmas animated film Klaus.

My personal theory is that people often vote for folks they'd like to work with. So, traditional Hollywood may complain about Netflix, but lots of them would take that deal if the streamer offered.

Click here for the full list of nominees for the once-again host-free broadcast, which airs on Sunday, Feb. 9, live in all time zones.

I turned to our producer-at-large, 2016 USC film-school grad Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., who frequently blogs here, for his views on what got nominated, what didn't, and what he thinks should have been.

What are your first reactions to the Oscar noms this morning?

I liked the actual announcement program itself. Actors John Cho and Issa Rae had a nice chemistry, which is hard to pull off at 5 a.m., when the awards were announced here on the West Coast. The awards show should re-think its “no-host” decision.

What were the biggest surprises among the nominees?

I was surprised The Two Popes received three nominations, especially after it rightly got shut out of the guild nominations. The performances felt like caricatures of the real men, especially Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It shows you what tech money can buy, I suppose. In any event, it gets my hopes up for a much more intriguing consideration of the modern papacy, HBO’s The New Pope, which premiered Monday.

What were the most unexpected snubs?

I did not see the Jennifer Lopez snub coming.  Hers was the most unique performance: vulgar, unapologetic and unrepentant from start to end. You don’t see characters like that very much in film.

Which nominations do you feel were the most richly deserved?

The Word War I drama 1917 deserved every nomination and deserves every win coming its way. It was truly a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking. Virtual-reality/immersive storytelling holds some promise, but the medium hasn’t quite pulled off good storytelling. It was amazing that director Sam Mendes essentially told an immersive story by filming in a “oner” -- making the film look as if it was one continuous shot -- in the traditional medium of cinema.

What would have been your picks for Best Picture, Actor and Actress and Best Director?

In the “shoulda been a contender” ‘category’ I reiterate Terrence Malick for A Hidden Life. It’s a shame a few secular critics are somewhat spiritually illiterate and didn’t “get” the film.

For Best Actress, I would say Alfre Woodard in Clemency, which I originally saw at Sundance.

And that Paul Walter Hauser wasn’t nominated for playing the title character in Richard Jewell was criminal. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution should just finally pay out its settlement money to Jewell's mother Bobi Jewell (played by Kathy Bates) on behalf of her late son, an innocent hero who came under intense media and FBI scrutiny as a suspect for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The newspaper squashed awards momentum with the hissy fit they threw in response to the portrayal of AJC reporter, the late Kathy Scruggs.

Editor's note: If you haven't seen Richard Jewell, I wrote about it here, and Father Vince weighed in here.

As for the other nominees mentioned, Father Vince and I have written about some of them -- and when we both did, we didn't always agree.

As for Joker, I passed, but Father Vince wrote about it here.

He also flew solo for A Hidden Life; find that here.

For The Irishman, find my look at it here, and Father Vince's here.

And for The Two Popes, my take is here (with comments from the director), and Father Vince's is here.

We also looked at Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, me here, and him here.

Image: Joel Cohen & Ethan Cohen & Scott Rudin at the 80th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood. February 24, 2008 Los Angeles, CA Picture: Paul Smith / Featureflash, via Shutterstock

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager  and Blog Editor at Family Theater Productions.

Click here to visit Father Vince Kuna’s IMDB page.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on our website, FacebookTwitter and YouTube.


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