Trophy Talk

The Biggest Snubs and Surprises of the 2019 Oscar Nominations

Bradley Cooper misses out on a Director nomination, Black Panther makes history, and Ethan Hawke makes other plans for February 24.

by | January 22, 2019 | Comments

History was made Tuesday morning, with Black Panther becoming the first ever superhero movie to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination. But that wasn’t the only big/shocking/delightful news of the morning, depending on your perspective. Academy voters proved once again they still have the capacity to deliver a bombshell or two, serving out snubs and surprises in nearly every category – bestowing love on some films we never saw coming (hello, Buster Scruggs) while ignoring other movies that were considered sure things as late in the game as Monday afternoon. Here’s our breakdown of the biggest snubs and surprises of the 2019 Oscar Nominations.

SNUB: A Star Is Born (2018) 90% Nominated for Eight Awards, But Bradley Cooper Misses Out for Director

(Photo by @ Warner Bros. Pictures)

A Star Is Born earned plenty of love from the Academy on Tuesday, but Bradley Cooper missed out on a nomination for Best Director. That category was one of the morning’s most surprising, with Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) getting in ahead of Cooper and Ryan Coogler. (More on Pawlikowski below.) Don’t cry too hard for Cooper, though: He is individually nominated for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and for Best Song.

SURPRISE: Black Panther (2018) 96% Becomes First Superhero Movie Ever to be Nominated for Best Picture

Black Panther

(Photo by © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

It was not totally unexpected, but it was never a sure thing either: This morning, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther became the first ever superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. The timing is auspicious, with the announcement coming 10 years after The Dark Knight was snubbed in the category, a move that prompted the Academy to widen its Best Picture nominations pool to a potential 10 movies. The movie scored a total of seven nominations, but failed to land a nomination for Best Director for Ryan Coogler. The film also failed to score a nomination for Best Visual Effects, where Christopher Robin scored a surprise nod.

SURPRISE AND SNUB: Willem Dafoe Beats Out Ethan Hawke for Best Actor Nomination

(Photo by @ A24)

For those of us at RT HQ, this one hurt. Ethan Hawke was never a lock for a Best Actor nomination for his incredible portrayal of a priest in crisis in First Reformed, but there was always a chance. He had done well with critics’ groups, and his performance was that good. But our hopes were dashed Tuesday morning when his name wasn’t called. His snub did allow for one of the bigger surprises of the nominations: Willem Dafoe picking up a nomination for his role as artist Vincent van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate. (If there was going to be a surprise, we thought it might come in the form of BlacKkKlansman‘s John David Washington, whose co-star Adam Driver did get a nomination for Best Supporting actor.)

SNUB: Eighth Grade (2018) 99% And Crazy Rich Asians (2018) 91% Land Zero Nominations

Eighth Grade (A24)

(Photo by @ A24)

No original screenplay nomination for Eighth Grade writer-director Bo Burnham. No Best Actress nomination for Elsie Fisher. Nada. Many probably saw this coming, though. The film is high up on our Awards Leaderboard, but many of its awards have been for first-time directing or breakthrough performance, categories that have no equivalents at the Oscars. Still, it was a surprise to see the 99% Certified Fresh film get zero love on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Crazy Rich Asians, an outside chance at Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, also failed to make the grade.

SURPRISE: Marina de Tavira Is Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Roma (2018) 96%

(Photo by Carlos Somonte / © Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection)

The open fifth slot in the Best Supporting Actress category – Amy Adams, Regina King, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz were all considered locks – always had the potential to surprise. Many were expecting Emily Blunt to squeeze in for A Quiet Place or Claire Foy to be recognized for First Man; few were expecting Roma’s Marina de Tavira to edge both actresses out. In the film, De Tavira plays Señora Sofia, whose complex relationship with her house keeper centers the film – and who has some memorable scrapes in the family car.

SNUB: Timothée Chalamet Gets No Love for Beautiful Boy (2018) 67%

(Photo by @ Amazon Studios)

Though the film didn’t exactly light up the Tomatometer, critics agreed that Timothée Chalamet’s performance as a young man struggling with addiction in Beautiful Boy was something of a revelation; for the “diner scene” alone many thought he was a shoe-in for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. In the end, Academy voters went with Sam Rockwell and his portrayal of former president George W. Bush in Adam McKay’s Vice. Rockwell won the category last year for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

SURPRISE: Coen Bros.’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) 90% Lands Three Nominations

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

(Photo by © Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection)

We’ll be honest, we had not predicted a single nomination for the Coen Bros.’ episodic Netflix Western. And yet the film managed to score noms for Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and for Best Song for perhaps the most Western-sounding ditty ever written, “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.” The film sits Certified Fresh at 92% on the Tomatometer.

SNUB: Justin Hurwitz Loses Out on Best Score Nomination for First Man (2018) 86%

First Man

(Photo by @ Universal Pictures)

Frequent Damien Chazelle collaborator Justin Hurwitz may have won the Golden Globe for Best Original score just weeks ago, but his work went unrecognized by the Academy Tuesday morning. Marco Beltrami, who was also up for a Golden Globe for his score for A Quiet Place, also failed to make the Oscar cut. Instead, If Beale Street Could Talk composer Nicholas Britell and BlacKkKlansman’s Terence Blanchard joined Golden Globe nominees Alexandre Desplat (Isle of Dogs), Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther), and Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins Returns) in the Oscars category.

SURPRISE: Germany’s Never Look Away (2019) 77% Beats Out South Korea’s Burning (Beoning) (2018) 95% for a Foreign Language Slot

Never Look Away

(Photo by Caleb Deschanel / © Sony Picture Classes )

Director Chang-Dong Lee’s Burning is one of 2018’s most acclaimed films, Certified Fresh at 95%, and has been generating buzz on the festival circuit for months (many even hoped for a surprise Best Supporting Actor nomination for Steven Yeun). On Tuesday morning, though, Lee’s film missed out on a slot in the Best Foreign Language Film category, with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s Never Look Away, representing Germany, sneaking in as a surprise contender. Never Look Away, which sits at 81% on the Tomatometer, is a sweeping epic that tracks 30 years of the life of a great artist who is loosely based on German abstract artist Gerhard Richter; the movie also surprised in the Best Cinematography category, picking up a nomination for Caleb Deschanel’s work.

SURPRISE: First-time actress Yalitza Aparicio Becomes Second Mexican Woman to be Nominated for Best Actress


(Photo by @ Netflix)

The Cinderella story continues for Roma star Yalitza Aparicio, who this morning became just the second Mexican woman ever to be nominated for Best Actress (Selma Hayek was the first, nominated for 2002’s Frida). Aparicio got the coveted fifth slot in the Best Actress category over some tough competition, including Emily Blunt and Nicole Kidman, who were both snubbed for their work in Mary Poppins Returns and Destroyer respectively.

SNUB: Not a Lovely Day for Year’s Highest-Earning, Best-Reviewed Documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018) 97%

(Photo by Jim Judkis/© Focus Features/)

What does a documentary need to do to get an Oscar nomination? That’s what the makers of Mr. Rogers bio-documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? must be asking themselves this morning after their film – the highest-grossing and best-reviewed documentary of the year – failed to be nominated in the Best Documentary category. The filmmakers shouldn’t be too distraught, though: it remains the most awarded documentary of the season according to our Awards Leaderboard.

SURPRISE: Poland’s Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) 92% Nominated Three Times

(Photo by © Amazon Studios)

Many thought that two black-and-white foreign-language epics would be too many for the Academy to recognize, and that with Roma sucking up all the oxygen in the room, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War would have to settle for a Foreign Language nomination. It was surprising then when on Tuesday morning Pawlikowski was nominated for Best Director and Lukasz Zal was nominated for Best Cinematography. Pawlikowski’s nomination shut out a number of big-name contenders, including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), and Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk).

SNUB: Toni Collette’s Hereditary (2018) 89% Performance Goes Unrecognized, Again

Toni Collette in Hereditary

(Photo by @ A24)

Yes, we know it was never going to happen – but that doesn’t make it fair. Hail Paimon!

The Academy Awards will be celebrated on Sunday, February 24 at 5pm PT /8pm ET and broadcast live on ABC.

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