In Conversation With John H Foote – The Academy Awards 2019 Nominations

The Cinemawala continues the chat with John H Foote, the former Dean of Toronto Film School, a film historian and an avid film critic to discuss the overall nominations for the Academy Awards 2019. Here is the excerpt of the chat –

Team Cinemawala – John, welcome back to this chat. So what do you think about the overall nominations, for the Academy Awards 2019?

John – Well, I would say, history has been made with some shocking nominations! In a historical move, Netflix was welcomed to the Oscar race for the first time, and a superhero film is among the nominees for Best Picture for the first time. The announcement of the nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were not without surprises, snubs and outright shocks. There are ten nominations each for ‘The Favourite’ and ‘Roma’, something of a surprise considering most pundits were expecting ‘A Star is Born’ to dominate. However in a perfect world, ‘First Man’ would be there with eleven. 

Team Cinemawala – Okay, so let’s begin with the major ones. What do you think about the Best Picture and Best Directors nominations?

John – For the Best Picture nominations, just eight nominees, meaning they could not find room for ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ or my choice as the years Best Picture, ‘First Man’. I thought ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ might squeeze in, but the jaw-dropper is that ‘A Quiet Place’ was ignored. I struggle with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as a Best Picture nominee, it was only average with a superb performance at its core. How does it get in over ‘A Quiet Place’? And where is Cold War’?

And as for the Best Director nominations, NO BRADLEY COOPER??!! That is a huge snub for the man who gave us ‘A Star is Born’, he was a lock until the very last minute! Though he received three nominations for the film, including Best Actor, it was believed he was in here for sure. There was such support for ‘Black Panther’ it seemed as though Ryan Coogler might slip in, and certainly, Peter Farrelly deserved to be here for ‘Green Book’. Great to see Spike Lee finally get a nomination for Best Director after being ignored so many years for so many great films. Finally, I had really hoped John Krasinski might get in for his fine, taut direction of ‘A Quiet Place’.

Team Cinemawala – We’ve already talked about the Best Actor (Male) and (Female) nominations in the separate chat, but any last words on it?

John – For the actor’s category, the biggest surprise here is the inclusion of Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh in ‘At Eternity’s Gate’, a nearly silent film about the tortured artist. Dafoe is brilliant, no question but was he stronger than Ethan Hawke in ‘First Reformed’ who swept the critics’ awards? Hawke should be here. Here is hoping they go with Viggo. And I weep for Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’. For the best actor (female) category, Aparicio was in discussions for a nod, so it is not really a shock, but it is. I had hoped Emly Blunt might get in for ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, but no such luck. 

Team Cinemawala – Okay! Moving on to the Best Supporting Actor (male) and (female) nominations. Quick thoughts on this?

John – Last years winner Sam Rockwell is back again, for his performance as George W. Bush in ‘Vice’. No other real surprises here. For the female nominations, Marina De Tavira for her act in ‘Roma’ is right out of left field, no one saw that coming! Very surprised they left Claire Foy off the list in ‘First Man’.

Team Cinemawala – Let’s talk about the writing nominations. What do you think about the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations?

John – Paul Schrader, one of the greatest screenwriters in the history of the cinema, finally got his first nomination. The writer of ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) and ‘Raging Bull’ (1980) both snubbed, is, at last, an Oscar nominee for ‘First Reformed’. For the best-adapted screenplay, I had really hoped ‘First Man’ might be here. Again, it certainly should. I am a little shocked at the love for ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’, another Netflix film.

Team Cinemawala – Moving on to the technicalities. Your views about the nominations in the below two categories: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing?

John – Again no ‘First Man’ in the Best Cinematography category. Thrilled to see two black and white films in this category, but a little disappointed for Rachel Morrison, ‘Black Panther’ is not here again. Nominated last year for ‘Mudbound’ (2017) she surpassed that work with the superhero blockbuster. I thought ‘Ready Player One’ was deserving too. For the editing, kind of think, ‘A Star is Born’ should be here, beautifully cut film. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ again? Really? ‘First Man’ should be in this category too.

Team Cinemawala – More on the technicalities. What do you think about the Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Musical Score?

John – For the both Sound Mixing and Sound Editing category, ‘Roma’, really? Over ‘Ready Player One’, ‘A Quiet Place’ or ‘Isle of Dogs’? For Best Musical Score, No ‘First Man’? This was the single award it seemed headed for? Happy that ‘Isle of Dogs’ is there, a very original score and film.

Team Cinemawala – Wow John, that’s brutal! What about the Best Costume Design and Best Production Design?

John – Well, no arguments!

Team Cinemawala – Okay, any final words about any nominations in general?

John – For the Best Visual Effects category, it kind of makes me ill that ‘Solo’ is an Oscar nominee but so be it. In another huge surprise, the Mr Rogers documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbour?’ was snubbed after being expected to win the category. As it stands the RBG doc will take it. 

Team Cinemawala – Thanks John for sharing your thoughts about the nominations. It was productive as well as informative. Until next time!

John – Thank you for having me here. 

About John H Foote –

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