The Oscar nominations were announced early in the morning on the 8th of February and as is the case every year, there were many snubs and surprises.

I would say that the biggest snub was certainly Lady Gaga, who was expected to receive a Best Actress nomination for her role in House of Gucci. Throughout awards season, Lady Gaga has expressed her admiration for method acting and she has claimed that she spent months speaking in an Italian accent before filming began, but this effort has not translated into an Oscar nomination. Instead, Kristen Stewart secured her first Best Actress nomination for her role as Princess Diana in Spencer. Stewart won a Cesar, the equivalent of an Oscar in France, back in 2015 and yet this awards season marked the first time that the Academy has acknowledged her work. In the Best Actor race, it looks like it might finally be Will Smith’s turn to win an Oscar for his role as Richard Williams, the father to the infamous tennis players Serena and Venus Williams. Nevertheless, there is still tight competition in that category from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch or Denzel Washington.

Irish publications have remarked on how many Oscar nominations for Irish actors and filmmakers there have been this year, especially as the British-Irish production Belfast scooped up many Oscar nods. While I’m sure Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe were disappointed that they did not secure acting nominations for playing the parents to the child lead in Belfast, it was an exciting day for Ciaran Hinds, as he is someone who has been working in the industry for decades and only secured his first Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor this year. Pundits had anticipated that Ruth Negga would earn a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her turn in Passing, but this did not come to fruition. In more exciting news, Jessie Buckley earned a surprise Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in The Lost Daughter.

A surprising feat was made by the Danish animated docudrama Flee, which tells the real-life story of an Afghan refugee. The film managed to secure nominations for Best International Feature, Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature, marking the first time this has ever happened. This is part of a broader change within the Academy that has been noticeable over the past few years, as we are seeing a lot of films that are not in the English language earn many nominations. The director of the Japanese drama Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamagachi, earned a Best Director nomination while the Norwegian romantic comedy The Worst Person in the World received a Best Original Screenplay nod. These films are no longer only relegated to the Best International Feature category.

The western film The Power of the Dog received the most Oscar nominations out of all the films in competition. The film’s director, Jane Campion, received a Best Director nomination and depressingly enough, this was the first time a female director has ever been nominated twice for the award. At the moment, it seems like either The Power of the Dog or Belfast are most likely to walk away with the Best Picture Oscar, but at the same time, there is not a clear winner as there often has been in previous years. 

Brigid Molloy – Film & TV Writer