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Oscar nominations 2019: rounding up this year's Academy Award front runners

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The 91st Academy Awards get underway on 24th February 2019, and the nominations are in. We've rounded up the front runners in this year's race to the Oscars.

The Favourite

As expected, there was a strong showing for this fiendishly entertaining and perverse period black comedy. By transforming the 18th century court of Queen Anne into a surreal onslaught of skewed angles, bad behaviour and bunny rabbits, filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos secures himself nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. In fact, the movie (along with Roma) has scored the most nominations of any film this year with 10 in total.

There are no surprises in the acting fields: Olivia Colman's nomination for Best Actress recognises her as the hilarious and tragic fulcrum of the movie. Meanwhile, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are (rather appropriately, given the nature of the film), pitted against one another in the Supporting Actress categories. 

It's a tricky thing given how much of The Favourite's running time is weighted between the three women. Clearly the Academy want to skew the odds in Colman's favour by separating her out from Weisz and Stone's efforts. Elsewhere, the irreverent script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara was recognised for Best Original Screenplay, no doubt for its stinging wit and incisive gender politics. Robbie Ryan's eye-grabbing cinematography is also nominated, as are the production design and Sandy Powell's intentionally anachronistic costumes.


Bohemian Rhapsody

This blockbusting Queen biopic (the most successful music biopic in movie history) has racked up five nominations – less than expected perhaps, but the film scored where it counts.

In addition to its Best Picture nod, the movie was a shoo-in for Rami Malek as Best Actor – the star's performance in the movie is the one aspect that has met with unanimous praise. Nevertheless he's in a particularly strong category this year, pitted against the likes of Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale.

Perhaps surprisingly, the movie was overlooked in the production design and make-up fields, although the editing of the various Queen performances has landed the film with nominations for Best Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.


A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper's critically acclaimed music drama has perhaps been battered by more competition than expected in recent weeks. Following its debut on the film festival scene last year, A Star is Born now has more of a fight on its hands in the most significant categories, although it's still performed well at this year's nominations.

In fact the movie was recognised for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress (for Lady Gaga), Best Adapted Screenplay (owing to the fact this is the fourth remake of the A Star is Born story) and Best Supporting Actor (for Sam Elliott). Shockingly, however, Cooper was shut out of the Best Director field, no doubt paving the way for Yorgos Lantimos to clinch the prize.

Of course, the cathartically powerful 'Shallow' was also nominated for Best Original Song – of all the film's nominations, this is surely the one most likely to demolish the competition. (Others in this field include Mary Poppins Returns and Black Panther, although it's difficult to imagine the songs from those films have surely gained as much PR traction as 'Shallow'.)

With A Star is Born now facing a strong rival in the form of The Favourite in the Best Picture and Best Actress categories, it remains to be seen. On the subject of the latter, maybe The Wife's Glenn Close, one of this year's most popular nominees, will scoop it from under the nose of both Gaga and Colman?


Green Book

Something of a late-starter in awards circles, Green Book (released in the Uk on 1st February) has emerged as a late-period threat to stalwarts The Favourite and A Star is Born. The heartwarming road trip movie plays to the stalls with its affectionate look at an interracial road trip across the American deep south, so it's perhaps not surprising to see the Oscars lap it up.

Green Book has landed a Best Picture nomination (no doubt propelled by its recent success at the Producers Guild Awards, often seen as a barometer of potential Oscar success), plus Best Actor and Supporting Actor nominations for Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, respectively. (Like The Favourite, it seems the Oscar voters don't want to pit two actors from the same film against each other in the same field, therefore threatening to negate their chances.

Despite being based on true events, the movie has also been recognised for Best Original Screenplay, no doubt because it's not based on pre-existing source material. (The script is co-written by Nick Vallelonga, son of the character portrayed by Mortensen in the movie.)


Vice

Satirical Dick Cheney biopic Vice (released in the UK on 25th January) also performed strongly, as expected, with eight nominations. Best Picture, Best Director (for Adam McKay) and Best Original Screenplay all feature in the nominations, no doubt spurred on by McKay's previous Oscars history with financial crash drama The Big Short. (That went on to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2016.)

Christian Bale further cements his Best Actor chances with a nod for his transformative turn as the ruthless and manipulative Cheney, and Amy Adams scores her sixth nomination for portraying his power-hungry wife Lynne. Sam Rockwell meanwhile continues his Oscar hot streak with a Best Supporting Actor nomination – this comes hot on the heels of his win in the same category for the incendiary Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.


Black Panther

It's official: 2019 is the year comic book movies made history. Marvel's comic book epic Black Panther becomes the first superhero movie in the history of the genre to be Oscar nominated for Best Picture.

The magnitude of that nomination helps us overlook the disappointing absence of Ryan Coogler as director, not to mention the film's absence in the screenplay and cinematography categories. Also, Michael B. Jordan's lack of a Best Supporting Actor nomination hurts us – his complex villain Killmonger is the engine of the movie. (Most bizarre is its omission from Best Visual Effects, although the Academy offered that instead to Avengers: Infinity War, so maybe they didn't want to split the vote?)

And Black Panther has made history in more ways than one. The acclaimed superhero adventure is the first superhero movie since 1978's genre-defining Superman to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score. In that instance, it went to John Williams – this year, it goes to Swedish composer and producer Ludwig Goransson for his arresting Western-symphony-meets-Senegal sound.


BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther isn't the only movie making history for black filmmakers this year. Spike Lee has scored his first ever nomination for BlacKkKlansman, the outrageous and disturbing true story of an African-American police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

Incredibly, Lee has been repeatedly overlooked by the Oscars in the past – his only prior nominations were for Best Original Screenplay in 1989 for Do The Right Thing and Best Documentary Feature for 1997's 4 Little Girls. (He was also the recipient of an honourary Oscar in 2006). Along with his Best Original Screenplay nomination for BlacKkKlansman, there's no denying this is the year Lee comes home.

BlacKkKlansman has also emerged as one of the six Best Picture contenders, and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Adam Driver, Best Original Score for Terrence Blanchard and Best Film Editing. Seriously though, where's John David Washington for Best Actor? Clearly that category was particularly strong this year – how else to account for the charismatic breakout star being shoved out?


Roma

This was also the year Netflix entered the record books – their quirky Coen brothers Western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs scored three nominations but the real success story was the arrestingly beautiful Roma.

Alfonso Cuaron's nostalgic black and white ode to his childhood scored where expected with nods for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Picture and Best Original Screenplay. What was particularly surprising was the showing for its performances – with Marina de Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio recognised in the Best Actress and Supporting Actress fields, respectively, it's a sign of how deeply affecting the film's performances are.

How their chances stack up next to the more hyped likes of Lady Gaga and Olivia Colman remains to be seen. Nevertheless, those two nominations have helped diversify the 2019 Oscars slate more than many could have expected.


Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson's delightful stop-motion animation about dogs stranded on a Japanese refuse heap defied its apparently Oscars unfriendly release slot. (It came out in March 2018, in the immediate wake of that year's Academy Awards, so may have been at risk of being forgotten altogether.)

But let's not underestimate Anderson's popularity with the Oscars – he's been nominated numerous times before and his 2014 confection The Grand Budapest Hotel won four. Most significantly, he's been nominated for Best Animated Feature before with Fantastic Mr Fox, and although it didn't win, the Academy may want to make amends this year.

Composer Alexandre Desplat has also been nominated for his Isle of Dogs score, and he's a previous Anderson Oscar winner (for The Grand Budapest Hotel). Will he succeed again? Given Desplat's 2018 victory for The Shape of Water, we imagine the way is paved for another of this year's score nominees – maybe Ludwig Goransson? On the subject, seriously, where is First Man's Justin Hurwitz? His soundtrack won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score, so what gives?


Mary Poppins Returns

Disney's enchanting Mary Poppins sequel somewhat disappointingly lost out on its chance with Emily Blunt in the Best Actress category. Even so, it's now a double-threat in the realm of music with nominations for both Marc Shaiman's score and Best Original Song (the tender 'The Place Where Lost Things Go', written by Scott Wittman). Costume designer Sandy Powell also bags her second nomination this year, so her chances of walking away with a prize have surely increased.

What are your reactions to this year's Oscars? Let us know @Cineworld and be sure to tune in to the 91st Academy Awards on 24th February.