2020 Oscar Nominations: Snubs, Surprises, and Disappointing Omissions

So, let’s address the elephant in the room. This is almost a week late.


This delay was fueled in part by an unusually busy week. It was also fueled by a surprisingly unsurprising list of Oscar nominations. Sure, my face was as agape as everyone’s when the first nominee announced was Kathy Bates, and I have plenty to say about the legendary pool of potential Best Actor nominees. But for the most part – nothing too crazy in my eyes.

So, let’s get started.


The nominees we didn’t hear, but thought that we would.

The Farewell

Lulu Wang’s drama about a Chinese-American girl and her family bidding adieu to their matriarch was on the bubble for multiple categories, but was mentioned zero times on Monday morning. Most notably absent were Awkwafina (in a Golden Globe-winning performance), Zhao Shuzhen’s supporting performance as Nai Nai, and Wang for Best Original Screenplay. Wang and the film itself were also considered dark horses for Best Director and Picture, respectively.

Greta Gerwig

And the internet went wild. To be quite honest – I’m not livid over this one, though I understand and share the frustration over not seeing female representation in this category. I just think people are looking at this situation the wrong way.

My feelings aside, one would think the critical acclaim for Gerwig’s take on Little Women – and the societal pressures of having a female in the category – would have ensured her nomination. Instead, the spot went to Joker’s Todd Phillips.

Dolemite is My Name

Dolemite might be its name, but racking up Oscar nominations is certainly not its game. Ruth E. Carter, who won for last year’s Black Panther, was expected to score a nomination for her work here in the Best Costume Design category. Eddie Murphy was also in the Best Actor running, but I’ll save my comments on that for a bit later.

Taron Egerton & Rocketman

With only one nomination, Rocketman left its fans speechless. Its Sound Design, Costumes, and Hair & Makeup were shut out, while Taron Egerton did not get nominated, despite his nominations at the BAFTAs and the SAG Awards and an upset win at the Golden Globes.

Jennifer Lopez

I haven’t seen Hustlers, so I can’t comment on the quality of JLo’s performance here. That said, I was stunned when I didn’t see her name on the list of nominees. Some had even predicted Lopez would be an upset winner next month, but that won’t be happening now.

Once Upon a Time in Editing

I was elated when I found out Tarantino’s most bloated and unfocused film was not nominated in this category – particularly because Best Picture winners almost always have an Editing nomination. I’m a Tarantino fan – he’s my favorite filmmaker – but I’d be sad if this was the year he won big.

In other word, this snub means Once Upon a Time may not be the Best Picture frontrunner everyone sees it as.

Avengers: Endgame

The magnificent capstone to the Avengers saga walked away with one solitary nomination. While a nomination Best Picture was certainly a long shot, its chances in the technical categories like Sound Editing and Mixing were a lot more likely. Alan Silvestri’s and his now-legendary score were also ignored.

Frozen II

So I’ll be honest – part of me likes Frozen II more than the original. I know that it wasn’t as well received as its predecessor, but its Best Animated Feature nomination was supposed to be set in stone. As Olaf might say, it’s Oscar chances are dead…especially since it likely won’t win in its sole category of Best Original Song


The nominations we didn’t expect to hear – plus all around shockers.

Ford v Ferarri

Widely perceived to be #9 on the list of potential Best Picture nominees, Ford v Ferarri was still a surprise nomination in the category, as The Academy nominates anywhere from 5-10 films. This means there was enough support to get this film a coveted spot on the list. On top of that, it was the first Best Picture nominee to be announced, adding even more to the surprise.

Joker is Everywhere

Even after leading the BAFTA nominees, seeing Joker rack up eleven nominations was head-scratching. Of course Best Actor and Best Score were happening, and given the movie’s surge in recent weeks, its Best Picture nomination was also seen as a given. But Sound? Film Editing? Costumes? Really?

The Best Actor Category

Going into the nominations, I knew two things were for certain: Adam Driver was getting nominated, and Joaquin Phoenix was as well. The remaining three slots were being vied for by seven worthy competitors. In the end, DiCaprio, Banderas, and The Two Popes’ Jonathan Pryce (?) got the spots, keeping Taron Egerton, Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Eddie Murphy, and Adam Sandler empty-handed. Most disappointing to me personally was Eddie Murphy, whose positivity in this comeback role was infectious.

Kathy Bates & ScarJo

Similar to the Best Actor category, there were two spots (three, given JLo’s absence) up in the air here. Pundits had predicted Zhao Shuzhen would get a spot, with the fifth being a free for all. These two spots went to Globe nominee (and former Oscar winner) Kathy Bates, in addition to Scarlett Johansson – who quickly went from being never nominated to being a double nominee.

1917’s Screenplay Nod

The Farewell, Pain and Glory, and even Booksmart were in the running for that fifth and final slot, but it went to the limited dialogue of 1917. This speaks strongly to its chances of winning in other categories – particularly Best Picture.

Extra Love for Jojo Rabbit

We all knew Jojo would get the Best Picture and Screenplay nods, but Costume, Film Editing, Supporting Actress, and Production Design were all shockers to me. I’m not complaining, though – it was one of my favorites of the year.

Disappointing Omissions

The nominations I had hoped to hear, but knew I wouldn’t.

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems isn’t even in my Top 10 of the year, but I wanted it to sneak in to the Best Film Editing category for inducing some major anxiety. Also, the kid in me who grew up on Mr. Deeds and Big Daddy would have loved an Adam Sandler nod.

Roman Griffin David & Thomasin McKenzie

I can’t stress enough how large the field of qualified contenders for Best Actor was this year. Regardless, Roman Griffin Davis was a delight in Jojo Rabbit, and I was championing for his nomination. I also think Thomasin McKenzie would have been a welcomed addition in the Best Supporting Actress field.


I was sad to see see Bombshell omitted in more major categories. I was taken aback by how much I loved that movie – particularly its editing, which left me gobsmacked (as did its absence from the Best Editing category).

Doctor Sleep

People really slept on this movie (no pun intended). Not only was its screenplay worthy of more attention, but Rebecca Ferguson was seducing and gut-wrenching in her turn as Rose the Hat, and it’s a shame she hasn’t been giving more attention.


This underseen independent film was the first great movie I saw in 2019. There was a ton to love in it, but I want to highlight its daring original screenplay for its commentary on race and youth, and its deliberate and effective ambiguity.


Another movie I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but apparently, I was the biggest fan of Florence Pugh’s performance and the cinematography. Like for Astor’s Hereditary, the leading lady and its chilling visuals were ignored here. To say that both were beautiful is an understatement.

Honey Boy

I left Honey Boy thinking it reminded me of both The Florida Project and mid90′s – both of which collectively received one nomination. Turns out it was more like those movies than I realized. Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay nominations should have been strongly considered (in my opinion).

Richard Jewell

Damn this movie was good. My political eye is thinking maybe The Academy didn’t like its commentary on the power of the media and the government. Or maybe they just didn’t like it.

In my eyes, it should have been a lock for Best Picture, Director, Editing, and Screenplay, with legitimate chances at Best Actor and Supporting Actor.


The original score for this movie became so instantly iconic that someone went viral after putting it over the Cats. Also, if we’re talking dream nominees, Lupita should be here for Best Actress. It wasn’t as good as Get Out, but some inclusion would have been nice here.

The Oscars air on February 9, 2020. Stay tuned for my predictions post coming out on February 2, 2020.

2019 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win and Who Should Win?

Best Picture

Predicted Winner:  Roma

This category is rife for a surprise on Oscar night, but to play it safe, I’ll predict Roma. Though we can’t ignore that fact that this film has a lot going against it. Despite its wins for Best Picture (or its equivalent) at the Critics’ Choice, DGA, and the BAFTAs, there are a few reasons to expect Roma will not win.

First off, it’s a foreign film, and no foreign film has ever won the top prize at the Oscars. It’s also a Netflix distribution, and the classical roots of the Academy haven’t smiled upon that before now. It was not nominated for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards, and with the exception of last year’s The Shape of Water, no movie this century has won Best Picture without that crucial nomination. It also wasn’t nominated for Best Editing – an enormous hinderance for its chances of winning. Lastly, while the movie was both beautiful and sincere, it lacked a certain punch and, honestly, was a little boring at times.

So this leaves a few options – Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born, or maybe even Black Panther – none of which scream “front runner” to me (which is why I defaulted to Roma). Green Book is riddled in minor controversies, ASIB didn’t get a Best Director nod, Black Panther is likely to rank low on the preferential ballots of older voters, and BlacKkKlansman is helmed by a divisive and notoriously under-recognized filmmaker.

With those options, I’d have to say A Star is Born or Green Book would have the best chance against Roma. But again, anything could happen – with the exception of Vice or The Favourite winning. I think we can also count Bohemian out, thanks to a few controversies of its own.

If I could vote for Best Picture, my #1 spot would go to BlacKkKlansman, followed very closely by Green Book. Check out my full ranked list below.

AJ’s Rankings (aka my preferences):

  1. BlacKkKlansman
  2. Green Book
  3. A Star is Born
  4. Roma
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody
  6. Vice
  7. The Favourite
  8. Black Panther

Should Have Been Nominated: Annihilation, Searching, A Simple Favor

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Cuarón, Roma

While Roma’s Best Picture win isn’t guaranteed, its Best Director win pretty much is. Cuarón’s passion project was realized with Oscar-worthy efforts like working with inexperienced performers and releasing in black and white. His biggest opponent was supposed to be Cooper, but given his absence from this category, a Cuarón win is a sure thing.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. Cuarón, Roma
2Lee, BlacKkKlansman
3. Pawlikowski, Cold War
4. McKay, Vice
5Lanthimos, The Favourite

Should Have Been Nominated: Cooper, A Star is Born; Farrelly, Green Book

Best Actress

Predicted Winner: Glenn Close, The Wife

Admittedly, I only watched The Wife because of the Oscar hype surrounding Close’s performance, and for the first hour or so of the movie, I was wondering if that hype was justified.

And in one moment, everything changed with a simple facial expression. Close’s character’s restrained rage in a scene where her husband is giving a speech was enough, in my opinion, to secure her the nomination. The subsequent scenes should solidify her win.

If not for Glenn’s overdue recognition this year, I’d be rooting for Yalitza Aparicio for her performance in Roma. The subtle and reserved portrayal from this former schoolteacher was wonderful, moving, and heartbreaking.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Glenn Close, The Wife
2. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
. Olivia Colman, The Favourite
4. Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should Have Been Nominated: Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Malek has virtually swept the awards circuit for his performance as Freddie Mercury, and immersive would be an understatement when describing the results of his work. So, it seems he will in fact be the champion on Oscar night.

That said, let’s not forget a couple of hurdles he has to get over, including the controversy surrounding the film and the pool of voters he has to sway. All of the other awards he has won were at ceremonies where both film and TV actors voted – and Malek was a well-regarded television actor before helming this blockbuster. That’s not the case for the Oscars, where veteran film voters may be more inclined to reward the work of a film star…like Christian Bale (who snagged a Globe and two Critics’ Choice Awards for his work in Vice) or early frontrunner Bradley Cooper.

I really, really, really want Bradley Cooper to win this. I truly think it’s the best leading performance of the year and one of his absolute best. Plus, he’s been nominated three times before for acting, and so I think it’s fair to say his time has come. Because of that, I wouldn’t count him out just yet. But maybe I’m dreaming.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
2. Christian Bale, Vice
3. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
4Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Also Nominated: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Should Have Been Nominated: John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, Vice

Hot take, I know. But let me explain.

Speaking of overdue Oscars, isn’t it fair to throw Amy Adams into the conversation? She’s been nominated five times before, and the Academy may just want to finally award her.

But let’s address the heat of my take – me not naming Regina King frontrunner. Listen, I’m a huge Regina King fan, and am thrilled she’s been getting recognized at the Globes, Emmys, and now the Oscars in recent years. But let’s be honest. In Beale Street, she had about four seconds of screen time, and she really wasn’t that memorable. She may be (rightfully) overlooked in favor of someone like Adams, or even Rachel Weisz, who pulled out the BAFTA win in this category last week.

King also was not even nominated at the SAG Awards or the BAFTAs, which are peer awards for the film industry. She did, however, win the Critics’ Choice and the Globe. Sounds a lot like the Stallone loss back in ’16.

Personally, my vote would’ve gone to Emma Stone. Her performance wasn’t as subtle as Weisz’s in The Favourite, but she still gets my support for being my favorite part of that movie.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. Emma Stone, The Favourite
2Amy Adams, Vice
3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
4. Marina de Tavira, Roma
5. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Should Have Been Nominated: Blake Lively, A Simple Favor; Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Ali’s win in this same category two years ago angered me, but this year, the anger has shifted to indifference. He’s clearly the best and most-deserving of this nominated bunch, but the field is so weak this year that I don’t think that’s saying much.

In my ideal world, we’d have seen Daniel Kaluuya nominated (and winning) for his performance in Widows. Oh well.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book
2Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
3. Sam Rockwell, Vice
4Sam Elliott, A Star is Born
5. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should have been nominated: Daniel Kaluuya, Widows; Na-kel Smith, mid90s; Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy; Jesse Plemons, Game Night

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winner: BlacKkKlansman

I don’t see anything beating BlacKkKlansman in this category. It’s timely, it’s funny, and most importantly, it is the best of these nominees. On top of that, Spike Lee’s Oscar is long overdue in the eyes of many. It checks all the boxes for a win.

The only spoiler in my eyes would be Beale Street – penned by Academy beloved Barry Jenkins. And since Lee hasn’t won to date, there’s as much reason to think they’ll snub him again as there is to think they’ll finally award him.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. BlacKkKlansman
2. A Star is Born
3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
4. If Beale Street Could Talk
5. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Should Have Been Nominated: A Simple Favor, Widows

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Green Book

This is a close one. As much as I want to say Green Book will drive away with this one, the controversy surrounding one of the writers might tip the scale in the favor of The Favourite. While I would hate to see this happen, I wouldn’t be able to say I didn’t see it coming. Still, the Green Book win at the Globes and PGA show that its reputation isn’t entirely tarnished.

AJ’s Rankings:

1. Green Book
2. Roma
3. Vice
4. The Favourite
5. First Reformed

Should Have Been Nominated: Eighth Grade, Searching

And now, the rest of the nominees for feature film…

Best Cinematography
Prediction: Roma
Preference: Roma

Best Costume Design
Prediction: Black Panther
Preference: The Favourite

Best Film Editing
Prediction: Bohemian Rhapsody
Preference: BlacKkKlansman

Best Production Design
Prediction: The Favourite
Preference: The Favourite

Best Original Score
Prediction: If Beale Street Could Talk
Preference: If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Sound Editing
Prediction: A Quiet Place
Preference: First Man

Best Sound Mixing
Prediction: A Star is Born
Preference: A Star is Born

Best Visual Effects
Prediction: First Man
Preference: Avengers: Infinity War

Best Animated Feature
Prediction: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Preference: Incredibles 2

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Prediction: Vice
Preference: Vice

Best Original Song
Prediction: Shallow (A Star is Born)
Preference: Shallow (A Star is Born)

Tallied Win Projections

Roma: 3
Bohemian Rhapsody: 2
Green Book: 2
A Star is Born: 2
Vice: 2
Black Panther: 1
BlacKkKlansman: 1
The Favourite: 1
First Man: 1
If Beale Street Could Talk: 1
A Quiet Place: 1
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 1
The Wife: 1

AJ’s Top 10 Movies of 2018

best movies of 2018

Alright – let me level with you guys.

I really did not love the movies I saw in 2018, and for the second time in three years, I really don’t feel I can justify putting any movie I saw at the #1 spot.

So, I’m going to have to do something that I did once and hoped I would never have to do again – alphabetize my Top 10 of the year.

Let’s get this over with, and hope that 2019 makes up for its preceding subpar cinematic year that had little to offer aside from these ten outstanding motion pictures (honestly, though – these ten movies are all awesome).


This February release was sorely overlooked. Natalie Portman helms this female-driven sci-fi thriller as an ex-Army college professor thrust into a treacherous and alien world of mysterious biologically inconsistency. The pacing, music, and tantalizing ambiguity will throw you back to the days of classic sci-fi, while the production design and visual effects suffice to thrill a modern audience.

Avengers: Infinity War

Don’t let anyone – including the Academy – tell you this isn’t the best superhero movie of 2018. Infinity War tackles the herculean task of balancing the narratives of dozens of superheroes, all while boasting fantastic visuals and being effectively funny. Yes, it’s just a play up for the final act, but I’d be lying if I said that final scene didn’t gut punch me when I first watched it.


I never, ever thought I would have a Spike Lee in my Top 10 list, but BlackKklansman is a master work of timely drama, dark comedy, and signature filmmaking tactics. I’d gladly leave the shove-it-down-your-throat pre-credits scene, but otherwise, this flick is pretty darn flawless. Hopefully we’ll see Lee on stage next month accepting his first Oscar.

Green Book

The movie is cheesy, sure, but it’s kind of like cheese atop the most delicious pizza you can imagine. In other words, Green Book is a delight. I kept waiting for it to take an easy escape or to get overly sappy, but it kept surprising me at every turn. It’s easily my favorite comedy of the year, and is a welcomed entry into the existing saga of rewatchable road trip flicks.

Incredibles 2

The long-awaited sequel didn’t exceed the original in my eyes, but the humor, action, and crisp animation in Incredibles 2 is enough to make it welcomed addition in Pixar canon – and earn it a spot on this list.


Perhaps my most unpopular opinion for movies this year would be finding mid90s to be superior than Eighth Grade. I’ll readily admit my fondness for both nostalgia and coming-of-age movies, but mid90s is more than effective in checking both of those boxes, thanks in large part to Jonah Hill, Sunny Suljic, and Na-Kel Smith.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

I walked out of Fallout thinking the words spoken by George Clooney in From Dusk Till Dawn – “Goddamn, that was intense.” The best entry in the M:I franchise since the third (another unpopular opinion), Fallout benefits from moving the face-mask-removal twist to the middle of the narrative, leaving more time for falling action…and just plain action. This movie’s a blast, and a technical achievement of sound, effects, stunts, and editing.


One of two outstanding mysteries released this year (see below for the other), Searching combines the film presentation tactics of Unfriended with those in found footage movies like Chronicle. The result is a captivating whodunit for the 21st century, anchored by a strong performance from John Cho.

A Simple Favor

I left the theater claiming I had seen one of the best mysteries – if not the best – this decade (though t0 be fair, I saw this before Searching). The enthralling, sexy, and raw story is highly elevated by the comedy (“Does Nicky have any dietary restrictions?” “Yeah, just don’t feed him shit he doesn’t like.”) and the performances – particularly Blake Lively’s, which in my opinion is one of the biggest awards oversights this year.

A Star is Born

Okay, you got me – I’m feeling backlash from the A Star is Born backlash. But the more I think back on this movie, the easier it is to overlook the flaws. The cinematography, the music, and Bradley Cooper’s performance all lend themselves to this directorial debut that is beyond noteworthy.