Brief Consideration: Oscar Nominations (2020)


The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced on Monday. Much like previous years, there are some excellent picks, some infuriating ones and a few surprises. The biggest shock for me comes from Joker leading the pack with an astonishing eleven nominations. The news cements the film as a game changer for the genre. It could also possibly echo the populist sweep of films gone by, such as Titanic and The Return of the King.

Likewise, Parasite being nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Language film is interesting, following last year’s pattern in which Roma was nominated in both categories. Whether Bun Joon-ho repeats his success at Cannes remains to be seen.

I’m also quite heartened by Brad Pitt’s Best Supporting Acting nod. He gave a layered performance, juxtaposing an amiable front with the boiling tension of a penchant for violence. It almost makes up for the Academy overlooking Pitt’s performance in Tree of Life, almost.

And as someone whose had John Williams’ final Star Wars score- The Rise of Skywalker on repeat since the film’s release, I’m pleased for its Best Original Score nomination. If the score for Episode IX wins, then it would be a touching full circle moment for the legendary composer. In 1978, the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope) won Best Original Score.

In terms of snubs, there are a few. The first one that struck me was no Best Actor nomination for Robert De Niro in The Irishman. Aside from being De Niro’s best performance in years, it’s also a portrait of a man who does not have much to say for himself.

The performance is subtle. Some of the actor’s best moments are when he can’t express himself. Aside from the direction, Scorsese’s melancholic and reflective interpretation of the gangster picture is in embodied De Niro’s performance (as Frank Sheeran).

The Best Actor in a Supporting Role category actually contains a fascinating battle between Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. They both represent the full spectrum of acting in the film. Pesci’s subdued crime boss against Pacino’s big and brash performance as Jimmy Hoffa.

I’m quite disappointed that Lupita Nyong’o’s fantastically creepy and moving dual performance in Us was not nominated. Like De Niro, Nyong’o’s work embodies her director’s vision. In the case of Us, her dual character represents the duality of the American spirit, it’s affluent nonchalance contrasted with its impoverished anger. In the years to come, I hope Lupita’s performance will be fondly remembered by the horror community.

Last but not least insofar as snubs are concerned is no Best Director nomination for Greta Gerwig. The omission reminds me of Christopher Nolan’s snub for the same award in 2011. It calls into question how a film, its actors and music can be nominated, but the central person who unites those aspects is overlooked. Odd. Baffling. Silly. These are just some of the words that cover it.

What do you think of this year’s crop of Oscar Nominations? What choices do you love? What choices do you loath? Do you have any snubs? Let me know me know in the comments below.


About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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5 Responses to Brief Consideration: Oscar Nominations (2020)

  1. Keith says:

    Good thoughts. I’m in the minority with the Gerwig/Director thing. I would love to see her nominated but don’t really see it as a snub. I think that category is insanely strong and good cases could be made for each nominated.

    Joker getting 11 noms was a cool surprise. It won’t win even half of that number but it was cool to see.

    Liked by 1 person

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