I originally planned to write this column as a “highs and lows,” but there wasn’t much to celebrate from the released list of nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards.
Some small victories exist for sure — Florence Pugh’s nomination for her role in “Little Women” was one high point for me — but by and large the list suggests the end of awards season that refused to recognize the high points of what was an amazing year in film. Here are three of my biggest heartbreaks.
Women directors? Never heard of them
Not a single woman was nominated for Best Director in a year with multiple outstanding films directed by women. The snub was enough for actress Issa Rae, who announced the nominees in the category Monday morning, to quip “Congratulations to those men.”
Just think of the directors denied that recognition. Greta Gerwig for “Little Women,” a film that remixed a familiar story to create something truly original and meaningful? Nah, not even worth nominating. Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” a poignantly funny take on family and cultural differences? Nope.
Céline Sciamma for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” one of the most exquisitely told love stories ever put on film? Nah. Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers,” a funny and complex tale of strippers after the 2008 economic collapse? You must be joking.
It would be laughable how absurd not recognizing a single woman director is, but it really isn’t funny.
“Parasite” shut out of the acting categories
The South Korean black comedy “Parasite,” my personal pick for the best film of 2019, was nominated in six different categories: Best Picture, Foreign Language Film, Original Screenplay, Director, Production Design and Film Editing. All of these aspects of the film are truly outstanding, but another amazing part of the movie was completely disregarded by the nominations: the acting.
In a year with only one person of color nominated for an acting role, this is especially egregious. The stellar performances of Song Kang-ho as the patriarch of the poor Kim family, Kim Ki-taek, and Cho Yeo-jeong as the clueless rich mother from the Park family, Park Yeon-gyo, easily outshine some of the nominees in the categories for supporting acting roles.
It’s an insult, and I’m expecting “Parasite” to win the Foreign Language Film award and be completely disregarded in the race for Best Picture, a fate shared with 2018’s “Roma” and the unfortunate consequence of a xenophobic Academy.
“Uncut Gems” completely ignored
“Uncut Gems,” the newest anxiety-inducing tour de force from filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie starring Adam Sandler as a jeweler with a penchant for risky bets, wasn’t nominated for a single award. That’s ludicrous.
The high-octane film was a little off-putting to viewers who expected a family-friendly comedy when they saw the words “Adam Sandler,” but the film was a breath of fresh air — the kind taken after you almost drown and first stick your head out of the water. It’s delicious. The film is just an amazing accomplishment that should’ve garnered consideration for its screenplay and directorial style.
But the highlight of the film is Sandler’s performance as Howard Ratner, which is at turns exhilarating and infuriating and a masterful pivot back to serious acting for Sandler. I honestly had him as my hopeful winner in the Actor in a Leading Role category, but apparently people just want to see “Grown Ups 3.”