By Aric Jenkins
January 22, 2019

The 2019 Oscar nominations have arrived, and as expected, there’s a fair number of surprises, snubs, and… superheroes (wait a minute?) involved in this year’s seemingly host-less ceremony. An initial glance at the best picture nominees suggests the Academy’s efforts to recruit a more diverse pool of members has paid dividends with several unconventional films—by the Academy’s standards—up for top honors.

The real winners won’t be known until the Oscars air on Feb. 24, but for some, a nomination (or 10!) is a real victory on its own. Others will be bitterly disappointed to see their work go unrecognized. Here’s who won and lost with today’s Academy Award nominations:

Winner: Netflix

Months and millions of dollars campaigning for Oscar consideration paid off: Netflix’s dreamy critical darling, Roma, is tied for the most nominations (10, alongside The Favourite), including best picture. And guess what? If it wins—and that’s a strong possibility—it would become the first foreign-language film to ever win the best picture Oscar.

But even Roma being considered among the finest eight films of the year could trigger a seismic shift in Hollywood. While Netflix has been cleaning up at the Emmys for several years now, this marks Netflix’s first-ever nomination for best picture at the Oscars, a fact that’s making some industry traditionalists uneasy. A Netflix nomination is a big deal in its own right, but a win could really signal to filmmakers that prestige cinema distributed through streaming services is a viable option—not too dissimilar to how Netflix lured TV heavyweights Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy over to its platform.

Loser: Female filmmakers

Eight best picture nominees, zero of them directed by women. And it wasn’t like there weren’t good options: Chloé Zhao’s The Rider; Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?; and Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life were all critically acclaimed and featured on year-end lists, among several other female-directed films.

Instead, women were shut out from not only the best picture category, but best animated feature, and best director as well. Stunningly, only five women have ever been nominated for best director at the Academy Awards, the last coming in 2017 for Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). Only one has ever won: Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker.

Winner: Comic books (OK, actually Marvel [OK, actually-actually Disney])

For the first time in Oscar history, a superhero movie is nominated for best picture. The fact that it was Black Panther, a blockbuster film with a predominantly black cast, made by a black director, that capitalized on the zeitgeist of Trump-era America, makes the nomination feel even more significant. The odds are stacked against it winning, but Marvel can take solace in Black Panther‘s seven total nominations for a film that made $1.3 billion worldwide at the box office. Black Panther is now, in every metric, a complete success.

Elsewhere, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse nabbed a best animated feature nod to complement its $325 million-and-counting worldwide gross. And while Spider-Verse was distributed by Sony and co-produced by Columbia (which is owned by Sony) it shares a production credit with Marvel Studios, which is, of course, a subsidiary of Disney. For Disney, it’s timely marketing ahead of it’s live-action Spidey sequel Far From Home arriving in theaters later this year. For comic book creators and enthusiasts, it’s a sign that superhero stories with substance can not only rake at the box office, but earn prestige and accolades as well.

Loser: Barry Jenkins

On the face of it, three Oscar nominations — including a screenplay nom and best supporting actress for his colleague Regina King — is not a bad haul at all for director Barry Jenkins. But examine it within the context of the competition, and Jenkins might feel a bit slighted.

If Beale Street Could Talk seemed primed for best picture consideration, especially given the Academy’s newly-formed commitment to diversity. Here we have a period romantic-drama (check), adapted from the work of one of the most essential writers of the 20th century (check), with a lovely score and cinematography to boot (check), helmed by a best picture-winning director (check). Yet Bohemian Rhapsody and Viceboth with mediocre to poor reviews—clearly felt more essential to the Academy.

Winner: Mexican directors

Between Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón, four out of the last five best director awards have gone to Mexican filmmakers. If Cuarón wins this year, it will be five out of six. He faces stiff competition (more on this in a bit), but having already taken home the same honor at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, Cuarón is strong favorite.

Loser: The best documentary category

There was a strange period last year where a bunch of documentaries could be seen in theaters at the same time. Even stranger, they were all thriving at the box office. It’s no surprise, then, that the best documentary category at the Oscars this year had to make some tough choices. But the two lock-ins other than RBG that most expected to be nominated—the Mr. Rodgers homage Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the surreal Three Identical Strangers—were snubbed.

Winner: Spike Lee

Thirty years after his classic Do the Right Thing was largely overlooked by the Academy, Spike Lee is nominated for best director and best picture for his polarizing crime dramedy BlacKkKlansman. Kim Basinger is likely pleased.

Loser: Asian actors

In a year in which a major movie studio put an all-Asian cast on screen for the first time in 25 years, Hollywood seemed poised to turn a corner. But not only was Crazy Rich Asians shut out of every single category — including technical ones it easily could’ve been considered for like costume and set design — but so were Asian actors as a collective group. None were nominated for any acting category.

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