With less than two weeks to go until the 2019 Academy Awards, the internet is rife with predictions as to who will take home the coveted award in their respective categories.
There is a tie this year for most nominations, with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma each drawing 10 nods, and are sure to earn wins of some variety throughout the night.
Smash-hit A Star is Born and the bitingly satirical Vice, then, are joint-second with 8 nominations each, which are directed, co-written and co-produced by Oscar darlings Bradley Cooper and Adam McKay respectively. While McKay managed to secure nominations in all three of these categories, in something of a surprise snub Cooper failed to secure a nomination for Best Director, though he can take solace in his nods for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Perhaps most notable of all is the third-most nominated film of the night, Ryan Coogler’s Marvel Cinematic Universe instalment Black Panther, which has tallied 7 nominations. This is significant for a number of reasons, not least because it is the most nominations for any superhero film in the history of the infamously highbrow awards show. It is also the first superhero film to earn a nomination for Best Picture, which is considered to be the most esteemed award of the entire ceremony.
This is certainly an important milestone for the Academy Awards, which is demonstrating a gradual enthusiasm towards recognising the previously ostracised genre, as Logan was the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay last year.
Moreover, Black Panther features a predominantly black cast, whilst being based in a fictional African nation, finally demonstrating the Academy’s budding willingness to recognise not only generic diversity, but racial and cultural diversity too.
While we are on the topic of black cinema, Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman also managed to secure what is shockingly the first Best Director nomination for the legendary filmmaker, even with revered classics such as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X under his belt.
Sadly, the number of Canadian 2019 nominations have not been as significant as they were last year, with neither Canadian individuals nor productions nabbing nods in any of the major categories. However, Canadians have managed to dominate in both short film categories, nabbing 5 of a possible 10 nominations.
In the Best Live Action Short Film category, there have been two nominations for Canadian productions, both of which are notably in the Quebecois dialect. The first of these is Fauve by Jérémy Comte and Marcia Gracia Turgeon, a harrowing meditation on the struggles for power, represented through the escalating games of two young boys in a dangerous open pit mine.
The second is Marguerite by Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset, a progressive short about an elderly woman who must confront her long-repressed emotions for another woman while bonding with her care nurse, who is herself a lesbian.
While both are resounding cinematic achievements deserving of their nominations, it is Marguerite that is proving to be the favourite at this pivotal point prior to the awards, though fellow nominees Mother and the controversial Detainment could prove to derail its hopes come awards night.
In the Best Animated Short Film category then, another Canadian nominee, Bao, directed by Toronto native Domee Shi, is the heavy favourite to win. Bao is the first Pixar short film to be made by a female director, telling a story close to the heart of Shi, which centres on a Toronto-based Chinese woman whose maternal yearnings bring to life a dumpling whom she raises as her own. Made with the trademark charm and emotional depth that has become a hallmark of any Pixar production, it is clear to see why Bao is the frontrunner in this category.
Accompanying Bao in the category is fellow Pixar employee and Ontario native Trevor Jimenez, who is nominated for his work on Weekends. A personal labour of love for over a decade, the film depicts Jimenez’s own childhood experience of being a child of divorce parents, forced to split his time between two homes.
The final Canadian nominee then is Animal Behaviour by Alison Snowden and David Fine, who have previously won in this category in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. Veterans of the industry, Animal Behaviour features an expectedly clever premise from Snowden and Fine, wherein a collection of animals attend group therapy sessions on a weekly basis.
While Canada might have missed out on the biggest categories at the Academy Awards this year around, there are those who still do the country proud in spite of stiff competition, proving that there is a wealth of creative talent striving to produce significant bodies of work that can earn international recognition.
The 91st Academy Awards will be airing on February 29th, so be sure to tune in and show your support for the Canadian nominees.