• See the complete list of nominees and cast your vote in our Oscars ballot.
• Snubs and surprises: “A Star Is Born” falls short of expectations, and Netflix makes history.
• “Black Panther” is the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture.
• Where to stream “Black Panther,” “Roma” and more Oscar nominated movies.
• The 91st Academy Awards are scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24. The show will be broadcast on ABC. The host? Who needs one?
LOS ANGELES — Netflix finally cracked the Academy Awards.
After years of aggressive campaigning, the streaming service received its first-ever nomination for best picture on Tuesday, with Oscar voters naming “Roma” as one of the best movies of 2018. The meditative black-and-white film about life in Mexico in the 1970s — which officially has ticket sales of zero, since Netflix does not release its films in a traditional manner — received 10 nominations over all, including for Alfonso Cuarón’s direction, cinematography and original screenplay.
[Read Manohla Dargis’s review of “Roma.”]
Yalitza Aparicio, who plays the lead role in “Roma,” received a best actress nomination, giving the film a presence in the acting categories — a crucial part of amassing the votes needed for a best picture win. Voters even found a spot for Marina de Tavira as supporting actress.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allows the best picture category to have as many as 10 or as few as five nominees, depending on how the organization’s 8,200 voting members spread their support. This time around, eight movies were nominated, down from nine from last year. Rounding out the category were studio crowd-pleasers (“A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”), idiosyncratic indies (“The Favourite,” “Vice”) and films about racism in America (“BlacKkKlansman,” “Green Book”).
A diverse set of nominees
Compared with years past, when academy voters came under repeated #OscarsSoWhite attack for failing to nominate films that focused on black characters, the best picture selections were remarkably diverse. Besides the foreign-language “Roma,” there was “Black Panther,” which celebrates black culture. Gay rights groups have praised “The Favourite” for its depiction of a lesbian love triangle. “A Star Is Born” is about a woman on the rise.
But the acting categories were less inclusive, with one black actor and one black actress among the 20 nominees. All of the directing and cinematography nominees were men.
“Roma” tied with “The Favourite” for the most nominations. “The Favourite,” a dark-hearted period comedy, also received attention in 10 categories, with Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone each receiving a supporting actress nod; Yorgos Lanthimos honored for his direction and editing; and the Oscar powerhouse Sandy Powell competing in costume design.
Unlike last year, when the list of nominations revealed “The Shape of Water” as the clear Oscar front-runner, the current race is still very much a race.
Don’t count out Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. For the first time in his 40-year career, Lee received a nomination for best director, joining Cuarón, Lanthimos, Adam McKay (“Vice”) and Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”). “BlacKkKlansman” got six nominations in total, including for Adam Driver’s acting in a supporting role and Terence Blanchard’s score.
“A Star Is Born” received eight nominations — fewer than expected, with Bradley Cooper failing to get a widely predicted director nomination. Cooper was recognized for his lead acting, however. Lady Gaga received nods for her lead acting and songwriting. Oscar voters also honored the Warner Bros. remake in categories like supporting actor (Sam Elliott) and sound mixing. “Vice,” a comedic biopic about Dick Cheney, also had eight nominations. “Black Panther” received seven.
Serious competition in top acting categories
The best actress contest is unusually competitive. Glenn Close received her seventh Oscar nomination — she has never won — for playing the title role in “The Wife,” an art film about a woman who sacrifices her professional ambitions. Close, who won a Globe for the performance, will be vying against the first-time nominees Aparicio, Gaga and Olivia Colman, also a Globe winner for her portrayal of a tortured British monarch in “The Favourite.” Filling out the category was Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”).
Among actors, Cooper will compete against Christian Bale, who transformed himself into a paunchy Cheney in “Vice,” and Rami Malek, who morphed into a toothy Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Also nominated were Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”).
“Green Book,” adored by many for its feel-good depiction of interracial friendship and disliked by others for its reliance on racial clichés, garnered five nominations, including editing and original screenplay. Voters seemed unfazed by the ongoing brouhahas around “Green Book,” including the resurfacing of an anti-Muslim tweet by Nick Vallelonga, one of the film’s screenwriters. (He apologized.) “Green Book” also won the predictive top prize at the Producers Guild of America awards over the weekend.
[See the complete list of nominees and cast your vote in our Oscars ballot.]
Questions about the show
Perhaps fittingly in such a scattershot year, the ceremony itself is shaping up as a mystery. No host has been named; the academy’s first choice, Kevin Hart, dropped out after (initially) refusing to apologize for past anti-gay ramblings on Twitter. It is also unclear how the 91st Academy Awards, scheduled for Feb. 24, will handle a major change in its format: To keep the show to three hours, up to eight categories will be moved to commercial breaks, with the winning moments edited and aired later in the telecast. The academy has not said which categories (there are 24 total) will be jettisoned from the live show.
The academy’s leaders — with urging from ABC, which broadcasts the ceremony — decided to take such drastic action because viewership has been plummeting. A record low of 26.5 million people watched this year’s telecast, a nearly 20 percent drop from a year earlier. As recently as four years ago, the Academy Awards had an audience of nearly 44 million viewers.
Another effort to attract more viewers, the creation of an Oscar for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” was abandoned by the academy in September. The academy was trying to make room for blockbusters, which voters have increasingly tended to ignore in favor of little-seen art films. But this year ended up as an exception: “Black Panther,” with $1.35 billion in global ticket sales, was the No. 1 movie of 2018. It is the first superhero movie nominated for best picture. “A Star Is Born” collected $406 million, an astounding total for a drama.
Hollywood’s future arrives
In some ways, Oscar voters appeared to be saying that Hollywood has room for both the future (Netflix) and the past (classic studio stories like “A Star Is Born”).
The academy’s old guard had resisted an aggressive push by Netflix to join the best picture club, arguing that, since the streaming service does not release its films in a traditional theatrical manner, its offerings should be better considered by Emmy voters. “Roma” has played in a smattering of theaters in North America, but major chains have refused to show it because Netflix made it available online in short order.
Netflix has relentlessly campaigned for Oscars, though, making inroads first with documentaries and then, last year, with “Mudbound,” which missed a best picture nomination but received attention in other prominent categories.
The embrace of “Roma,” which is classified as a foreign film, may reflect efforts to make the academy more international and diverse. After the #OscarsSoWhite backlash in 2015 and 2016, the academy mounted an effort to double female and minority membership, in part by inviting in more foreign filmmakers. But even after three years of the initiative, the academy remains 69 percent male and 84 percent white.
“Roma,” filmed in Spanish and Mixtec, is the first foreign-language movie to receive a best picture nomination since “Amour” in 2013. No foreign film has ever won. “The Artist,” named best picture in 2012, was made in France. But it was silent and hence not deemed a foreign film by the academy.