International voting pool continues to make impact
Before Zazie Beetz and Jack Quaid began reciting – with evident delight – this year’s nominations, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Janet Yang announced that votes had been cast from a record 93 countries among the 11,000-strong Academy membership.
This internationalist perspective can most obviously be seen in strong showings for Justine Triet’s French-language Anatomy Of A Fall (more on that below) and Jonathan Glazer’s German-language The Zone Of Interest, and that in the documentary feature category four of the five nominated films are foreign-language titles: Ukraine’s 20 Days In Mariupol, Canadian Hindi-language production To Kill A Tiger, Chile’s The Eternal Memory and Tunisia’s Four Daughters. At least two very US-focused stories, American Symphony and Still: A Michael J Fox Story did not score a documentary nomination.
But arguably the most significant ‘American’ nomination is the best actress one for Killers Of The Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone, the first time a Native American actress has ever been nominated in this category.
Barbie does well, but not too well
Nominations in supporting actor categories for Ryan Gosling and America Ferrara, for Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach in adapted screenplay, for best picture and five further nominations make Barbie that rare beast – a massive blockbuster with a credible claim on a major Oscar haul. But neither Margot Robbie nor Gerwig were recognised in best actress and best director respectively, which could be viewed as disappointing considering the pair were the film’s driving creative force.
Bleak statistics for female filmmakers
Barbie is one of three films directed by women nominated in best film, along with Celine Song’s Past Lives and Justine Triet’s Anatomy Of A Fall, the highest number in history. While that represents a record, it also serves as a shocking statistic with the rise in the number of best picture nominees to 10 the only way to spare the Academy’s blushes in this regard. In place of Gerwig, Triet is the only woman competing for best director, and only the eighth woman nominated in this category ever. By contrast, Killers Of The Flower Moon gives Martin Scorsese the 10th best director nomination of his career (with a single win for The Departed).
It’s also notable that all five best international feature nominees are directed by (European) men, although two of the five documentary feature nominees are directed by women: Maite Alberdi for The Eternal Memory and Kaouther Ben Hania for Four Daughters.
Films with women-focused storylines are represented by surprise nominations for Nyad lead actors Jodie Foster and Annette Bening and for Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik’s screenplay for May December.
Omissions include Saltburn, All Of Us Strangers, Priscilla
Saltburn has proved one of the most talked-about films of awards season but buzz could not be converted to Oscar nominations with UK director Emerald Fennell’s black comedy shut out. Further titles to be overlooked by US Academy voters include Andrew Haigh’s All Of Us Strangers, Michael Mann’s Ferrari and Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla.
Wrestling drama The Iron Claw perhaps came into the race too late for even Zac Efron to take hold of a nomination while The Killer always seemed a long shot, even with the director-star pairing of David Fincher and Michael Fassbender.
Ava DuVernay’s Origin made a late play to be this year’s To Leslie, achieving a late surge with the support of high-profile champions such as Angelina Jolie and Regina King. But despite the impassioned campaign, no nominations were forthcoming.
Among the performers, Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio will not get chance at a second statue this year after missing out on a nod for Killers Of The Flower Moon while Margot Robbie – twice nominated for her performances in the past – has been overlooked for her leading role in Barbie. Julianne Moore also did not land a best supporting actress nomination for Todd Haynes’ May December, to go with its nod for original screenplay.
Other features that secured fewer nominations than anticipated include Warner Bros’ musical The Color Purple, with Danielle Brooks gaining its sole nod for actress in a supporting role, while the widely praised Past Lives made it into just two categories – although one of those is for the coveted best picture award.
Studios lead from the streamers
The major studios led the way from the streaming giants in the feature nominations, with Universal scoring a high of 18, jointly with Disney (when including Disney’s Searchlight Pictures nominations).
Universal’s haul came from two films: Oppenheimer’s high of 13, plus the five for Focus Features’ The Holdovers. Disney’s selection were more spread out, with 11 for Searchlight Pictures’ Poor Things, two for The Creator, then five films with one each including Eva Longoria’s Flamin’ Hot in best song.
Netflix was close behind the two studios, scoring 16 nominations in the feature categories. Bradley Cooper’s Maestro was its flagship performer with seven; while Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s Nyad and J.A. Bayona’s Society Of The Snow got two each. It has the most nominated titles of any distributor with eight, marking a strong showing for the streamer; with additional shorts nominations including for Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar.
Apple recorded 13 nominations, with 10 for Killers Of The Flower Moon – distributed with Paramount – and three for Napoleon – distributed with Sony.
A24, which scored nine Oscar wins last year include seven for Everything Everywhere All At Once (from 11 nominations), had to settle for seven nominations this time: five for The Zone Of Interest, and two for Past Lives.
Pride for Anatomy Of A Fall
Five nominations marks an excellent showing for Triet’s Anatomy Of A Fall. Its total is strengthened by the categories it achieved: best director for Triet (the only woman in the five), best actress for Sandra Huller, and best picture.
Four years after Parasite broke through, it provides further sign of films not in the English language succeeding at the Oscars. Like Bong Joon Ho’s film, Anatomy… started its awards run with a Palme d’Or in Cannes; its performance in today’s nominations makes it a dark horse against Oppenheimer and Killers Of The Flower Moon in the best picture category.
Anatomy’s success throws a sharp light on the decision of the French Oscar committee to eschew the film in favour of The Taste Of Things, which missed out on a best international feature nomination. France’s relative dry spell in that award goes on: it is now four years since the country’s last nomination, for Les Miserables in 2020, and a record 31 years since it last won, for Indochine in 1993.
A few years ago, Venice was the clear choice for launching a film towards the Oscars, scoring three times the total of any other festival in the 2019 nominations.
Five years later, Cannes is one of several festivals to have forced its way back into the frame. It has beaten Venice for 2024, with 26 nominations this year going to features that launched on the Croisette – up from 13 in 2019, and just four in 2018. Securing Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon has proven a wise choice for the festival with its 10 nominations, with Competition titles The Zone Of Interest and Palme d’Or-winner Anatomy Of A Fall each taking five.
Venice remains a good bet for an awards launch, with Golden Lion winner Poor Things scoring 11 nominations, plus Maestro’s seven adding towards the Lido’s 23 among features. However, it is a more even spread than in several previous years, with strong showings for Telluride and Toronto, with five each for The Holdovers and American Fiction; and Sundance breaking out of the documentary nominations it regularly secures, with two for Past Lives.
Festivals are not the only route to Oscars success: neither Barbie nor Oppenheimer debuted at one, and ended up with eight and a leading 13 nominations respectively.