This year there were very many great films nominated in key Academy Awards categories; films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, Parasite, Marriage Story, and The Irishman are deserving of their nominations and should be recognized for their merit. However, as is perusal, the nominations tended to be dominated by major studio films, with many smaller independent films being completely shut out. This year’s list of nominees also proved that the Academy has retained their long standing bias against “genre” films, as many horror, action, and broad comedy films were among those snubbed.
While some films such as Knives Out, The Two Popes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Pain and Glory missed out on Best Picture recognition but received other nominations, some films went home completely empty handed. Years from now, film fans will look back upon these films and wonder why the Oscars would have ignored them. Here are ten great 2019 films that received zero Oscar nominations.
10. John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum
John Wick franchise should prove that the Academy Awards are long overdue a category for Best Stunt Coordination. It is strange that the Oscars still fail to recognize the hard work done by stunt artists, and in many ways the John Wick franchise has helped to shed light on the craft itself, as the entire trilogy has been directed by former stuntman Chad Stahelski. The term “gung fu” is often most closely associated with the John Wick films, and it’s clear that they’ve had a significant impact on modern action cinema.
Beyond the proposed category of Best Stunt Coordination, John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum also deserved to be considered in existing categories. In particular, the film should’ve been nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, as its sound design is incredibly unique and makes for an interesting mix of realism and pulpiness. The third John Wick is also one of the most beautifully shot and energetic films of the year, and could easily have been recognized for Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.
9. Under the Silver Lake
One of the most peculiar films of 2019, Under the Silver Lake has already gained an attentive cult following, as many film fans have been obsessed with deciphering its hidden meanings and layers of symbolism. It’s the type of film that is rarely recognized directly after its release, but it has inspired so much discourse that it feels like a worthy contender for Best Original Screenplay; it’s undoubtedly one of the most original films of the year. While the Best Actor field may have been too competitive for Andrew Garfield’s eccentric lead performance to get in, it would’ve been nice to see Riley Keough nominated for her supporting role as the enigmatic Sarah.
On a more technical level, Under the Silver Lake is one of the most complex films of the last few years, with many locations that include hidden details that some viewers might not notice until their third or fourth rewatch. The locations and scenarios that Garfield’s character finds himself in are often quite unique, and the film deserved to be recognized for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, and particularly Best Makeup and Hairstyling for the incredible scene with the Songwriter.
When Get Out stormed the box office and received four Oscar nominations (including a win for Best Original Screenplay), many saw it as the emergence of a new awards favorite in Jordan Peele and a rare example of the Oscars reversing their long standing bias against horror films. Unfortunately, these trends did not continue, as Peele’s next feature Us was completely shut out. The haunting score from Mike Gioulakis was certainly worthy of a nomination for Best Original Score, as was the film’s unique designs for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
However, the most noticeable snub for Us was for Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Actress role. It’s not the type of performance that the Oscars usually recognize, but Nyong’o’s dual roles as a mother hell bent on protecting her children and a dark doppelganger is undoubtedly one of the greatest transformations of last year. Nyong’o’s performance is extremely emotional, as her character must hide and later confront her childhood trauma, but it also required a great deal of physicality and vocal alterations that were certainly very challenging.
7. Uncut Gems
The Safdie Brothers may not seem like traditional awards contenders, as their subversive and dark films don’t feel like they are in the Academy’s wheelhouse, but they nonetheless made one of the best films of last year and deserve recognition. Uncut Gems is 135 minutes of pure anxiety, and it’s a testament to the sheer bravery and craft of the Safdies that the film is able to keep escalating. It would be hard to think of another film more worthy of nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, or Best Sound Mixing.
However, the most notable snub remains Adam Sandler’s tour de force leading performance. Sandler has proven in films like Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories that he can handle dramatic roles, but as Howard Ratner he has completely transformed his image and turned into a scheming, salacious con man who nonetheless is able to win over the audience. In many ways it’s the next step in the type of man child roles that Sandler typically plays, and it’s unfortunate that the Oscars ignored this unforgettable cinematic character.
6. Dolemite Is My Name
One of the biggest headlines on the morning of nominations was that Netflix received more nominations than any other studio, gaining significant recognition for films such as The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. However, Netflix’s powerhouse comedy Dolemite Is My Name was completely shut out, which is surprising given the amount of love for Ruth Carter’s costume design.
In the tradition of films like Ed Wood or The Disaster Artist, Dolemite Is My Name is a charming true story about a real filmmaker who dreamed big and cultivated his own audience. It’s one of the funniest screenplays of the year, and the scene stealing supporting performances from Wesley Snipes and Da’Vine Joy Randolph both could’ve easily snagged a nomination. Of course, nothing in the film would have worked if it wasn’t for Eddie Murphy’s amazing comeback role, and in a year filled with so many dramatic performances, it would’ve been nice to see Murphy’s hilarious turn sneak into the Best Actor race.