Oscar Hot Takes

Here are Hot Takes from our crew on this year’s Oscar Nominations.

Jose: Given the Hollywood press machine it is no surprise that Walt Disney Studios and Participant Media (which specializes in productions helmed by Hollywood heavyweights) lead all studios with seventeen nominations each. Trailing these two studios are Fox Searchlight and Netflix with fifteen nominations apiece and right behind them are industry giants Universal, Warner Bros., and Focus Features (a subsidiary of Universal Pictures). But the Oscars have always been more about celebrating the big studios than celebrating cinema. One film that won’t be talked about at the Oscars is Panos Cosmatos’ trippy horror film Mandy. With stunning cinematography by Benjamin Loeb, a gorgeous score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, and a killer performance from Nick Cage, Mandy is a film that didn’t get a look from the Hollywood press machine but certainly won’t fail to grip you.

Dr. S: It’s a good and bad year for women. Lead and Supporting Actress are the most interesting in the non-film-geek categories. (Best Picture is watery porridge after a couple of good years.) But not a single woman nominated for Best Director, despite strong work from Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), and Cloé Zhao (The Rider)? As much as I like Cold War (and Łukasz Żal’s cinematography nod for that is on point), I can’t see Pawlikowski deserving the director nomination ahead of Ramsay or any of the others. And McKay (Vice)? Um, no. I actually love the so-called technical categories, and there I think Cinematography is the most interesting competition.

Khadijah: I’ll be hate watching the Oscars this year. I’m angry that Emily Blunt and John Krasinski were snubbed for A Quiet Place, which I’m sure we can all agree was one of this year’s best films.


Akil: I lost most of the excitement and angst I usually have for the Oscars after the nominations were released. Toni Collette’s performance in Hereditary was at least one of the top three on-screen performances by an actor, male or female, but I came into the week knowing she was still was a long shot. The more glaring omissions were Ethan Hawke from the Lead Act category for First Reformed, which was also my favorite picture of the year, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which follows the life and influence of Fred Rogers, from the Best Documentary Feature category. You could argue that, even with plenty of critical backing, Ethan Hawke’s chances at a nomination were shaky, but there’s no excuse as to why the best reviewed and most awarded documentary of the year could not even receive a nomination.

R. Backman: One nomination that I appreciated in particular: Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters landed the difficult to acquire nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. So, there’s at least one time slot I’ll be tuned in to watch. Outrageous snubs such as Ethan Hawke’s performance in First Reformed, Lars Von Trier’s The House that Jack Built missing from any and all categories, and Steve McQueen’s ensemble, multi-layered thriller Widows missing from editing and writing were disappointing. If the hype behind Roma and Black Panther can carry interested moviegoers, the broadcast could turn out to be more compelling than early buzz suggests.