And the films unjustly overlooked from the 2020 Oscar nominations are…

Joker, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood, The Irishman… The list of nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards unveiled on Monday is not very surprising. The most publicized American films in 2019 take the lion’s share and the only real good surprise lies in the six nominations of Parasite. The prospect of seeing Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean film triumph over Hollywood stars on the evening of the ceremony, February 9, is very encouraging. Alas, as every year, many “oversights” are to be deplored. Like Cats, for example, (no, we’re kidding). Review of the main snubbers.

  • “Portrait of the Girl on Fire”

Even if it means being accused of chauvinism, let’s admit that we were secretly hoping for a nice surprise for Portrait of the girl on fire. Discarded from the race for the Oscar for best international film under the French banner in favor of Miserables of Ladj Ly – who will try to dispute the statuette with Parasite – the feature film by Céline Sciamma has been very noticed in the cinephile galaxy across the Atlantic where he was showered with praise.

If the prospect of seeing the actresses Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant named seemed completely crazy – especially in view of the competition in this category – imagining the director of photography Claire Mathon named “best photo” was nothing out of the ordinary. Our tricolor pride, however, has no reason to wince. Wretched (international movie), I lost my body (animated feature film) and short films Memorable and Nefta Football Club will be there to represent French cinema. The composer Alexandre Desplats will be in the running for the original music of the Daughters of Doctor March. This is his tenth Oscar nomination since his very first in 2007 – he won in 2015 and 2018.

The years follow each other and, alas, look alike for Ari Aster. In 2018, Heredity, his first film caused a sensation with its unexpected plot full of twists and turns. This audacious proposal awakened a genre cinema accustomed to repeating the same threadbare codes, but it had not won any nomination for the 2019 Oscars. This year, rebelote with Midsommarwhich sent shivers down the spine last summer with its storyline plunging a gang of American students into a Swedish community with a funny way of celebrating the June solstice.

This feature film, between bad trip and joyful de-zincification of the toxic aspects of masculinity, would have had its place in the race for the Oscar for best original screenplay. Seeing Florence Pugh nominated for the Best Actress Oscar would have seemed like a no-brainer. The actress can still hope to win a statuette in February: she is in the running for the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for her performance as Amy in The Daughters of Doctor March.

The years go by and, alas, are not alike for Jordan Peele. Two years ago, his first feature film, get-out, had won the Oscar for best original screenplay and had been nominated in the categories best director, best film and best actor (Daniel Kaluuya). This satire denouncing ordinary racism through a black hero visiting his white in-laws for the first time hit the mark with voters.

Us, Jordan Peele’s second film, was completely “forgotten” by the Academy of Oscars this year. Perhaps this story of a nightmarish family weekend on the California coast was too complex. However, Lupita Nyong’o, would have deserved to have her chance among the best actresses.

“No one is a prophet in his country”, goes the saying. James Gray is living proof of that. Since his first feature film, The Yards, in 2005, the American filmmaker can count his Oscar nominations on the fingers of a fingerless hand. Among his best films are L.a Night belongs to us, Two Lovers Where The Lost City of Z…but all were dutifully snubbed by the Academy Awards. “His career, slow and full of obstacles, aligns refusals to bow to the dictates of the entertainment industry made in Hollywood, which persists in not understanding its singularity”, wrote in 2017, Jean-Samuel Kiegk in an article for Rockyrama entitled “James Gray or permanent incomprehension”

The phenomenon is repeated this year with Ad Astra, released this fall. Either the story of an astronaut (Brad Pitt) who takes advantage of a space mission to try to find his father. The film could perfectly have claimed several nominations, particularly in the so-called “technical” categories (visual effects, sound mixing, production design, etc.). It is time for American cinema to begin to realize that James Gray is one of its best representatives.

  • And for a few more oversights…

“Congratulations gentlemen,” slipped actress Issa Rae after announcing the names of the five filmmakers in the running for the Oscar for best director. A compliment that could also be heard with irony: no director is on the shortlist this year. However, Greta Gerwig, for example, would have had its place there perfectly, her adaptation of Daughters of Doctor March – which also has five nominations. Lulu Wang could have appeared there in outsider with Farewell – The Farewell. This last feature film is not in the running for any trophy when one would have expected that Awkwafina, winner of a Golden Globe for this film, is retained in the race.

Also a bit of a disappointment The Lighthouse which won a deserved nomination in the best photography category, but no more. It’s still a miracle that Robert Eggers’ film hasn’t been set aside as its quasi-experimental style seems divisive. Nor should we be too greedy hoping that the stunning acting work of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe will be distinguished by a nomination.

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And the films unjustly overlooked from the 2020 Oscar nominations are…