By John H. Foote
No pre-amble, just into it. Once again the Academy Award nominations are filled with an array of snubs of actors and actresses, ignored films, directors and achievements. Without further ado, here we go. And yes, for some of these, I am furiously pissed.
- DA FIVE BLOODS – Long discussed as one of the many Netflix films to be in the Best Race, where is it? Inexplicably not nominated, the Academy displayed great ignorance in not nominating this film, one of the finest ever made about the war in Vietnam, specifically the black experience. I was shocked to not hear the title announced, better than at least four of the nominees.
- SPIKE LEE FOR DA FIVE BLOODS – How does this happen, yet again? One of the finest American filmmakers of the last 30 years has been nominated as Best Director … once. Robbed time and time again for Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), and his brilliant documentary When the Levees Broke (2005), it sickens me that this fine filmmaker has been so frequently passed over. He was nominated for BlacKkKlansman (2018) and won for his screenplay, just a year after his Lifetime Achievement award, from the same Academy who have chosen to ignore his achievements so often. Shameful.
- DELROY LINDO IN DA FIVE BLOODS – There was a time when the New York Film Critics’ Awards were a harbinger for the Oscar nominations and an award from the NY scribes meant at least a nomination! No longer. Lindo was a popular choice for the Best Actor award this year and seemed to have a lock on his first Academy Award nomination, but again, a no. Watch the scene where he encounters the ghost of Norman, beautifully portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, and tell me he was not deserving of a nomination. The man should be there.
- CHADWICK BOSEMAN IN DA FIVE BLOODS – As should this guy, though he was nominated for Best Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and he will likely win. That said, he deserved a nod as Supporting Actor and should have got one. That final encounter between the two men is shattering and wouldn’t be the scene it is without both actors. Two nominations would have made history for Boseman, which would have been nice.
- NEWS OF THE WORLD – This was the best film of the year for me, a masterful western with two superb performances. Westerns are so infrequent these days and finding one that is truly original even more difficult to find. But this was entirely original with Hanks as a man who travels from town to town and reads the news to people who get none in the small towns dotting the American west in the immediate days after the Civil War. Filled with humanity, it was easily the year’s best film for me.
- PAUL GREENGRASS FOR NEWS OF THE WORLD – Once again teaming with Hanks, they worked so well in Captain Phillips, Greengrass forged a tough film about the brutality of the old west, though gives us such humanity within. Stunningly shot, it is an epic with a heart beating in its most intimate moments.
- TOM HANKS IN NEWS OF THE WORLD – Just how great is this guy? I am not sure, despite the accolades, awards and Oscars, he has even peaked yet. Jimmy Duggan, Andrew Beckett, Forrest Gump, Jim Lovell, Captain Miller, Chuck Noland, Michael Sullivan, Captain Phillips, Mr. Rogers and now Captain Kidd, he is never Hanks, but something of Hanks is always there. Hugely gifted. They snubbed him for 19 years, are they starting over?
- MANK – How was the superb script for this ignored? The story is about the writing of the landmark film Citizen Kane (1941), but how, how, how does the screenplay for this get ignored? Makes no sense.
- SOPHIA LOREN IN THE LIFE AHEAD – As an aging prostitute who takes in homeless children, Loren was magnificent, and I thought a nomination was a near certainty. Not certain, but pretty close. Yes, I felt a sentimental vote might push her into the race, but the evolving Academy did not agree. She deserved to be there.
- MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – With all the cries for diversity in film, here is a film about the black experience in the Depression recording music in a white man’s studio. Why is this not among the Best Picture nominees? Of all the nominees this year, this snub makes the least sense.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.