The Oscar nominations for the weirdest year in cinema are here, and they are a Mank of Chicago 7s. There are some big inclusions worth noting—and we will—but the most nominated film of 2020 is MANK, which is so on-the-nose for 2020 it feels satirical. Mank bagged ten nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Actor for Gary Oldman, and Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is next most nominated film, with six including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Sacha Baron Cohen, and Best Original Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game). None of that is surprising, I guessed all of those things, but a year after Parasite’s historic and feel-good win—the best movie actually won best movie!—we have gone FULL MANK and I am SO afraid we will follow up the Parasite year with the Mank-7 year.
Speaking of my guesses, for my first full Oscars prognostication I did okay. I got 73% of my guesses right (assuming my math is correct, which we never should do), but it doesn’t FEEL good because I was TOO RIGHT about Mank and Chicago 7. (The category I whiffed on the most is Best Documentary, where they included My Octopus Teacher, a film about an entitled man who won’t leave a poor octopus alone.) To quote Lainey, who put it perfectly, “I’m worried Chicago 7 is gonna Argo.” Mank is an obvious Oscar movie because it’s a contemporary black-and-white film from a master filmmaker about a legendary Old Hollywood figure, but Chicago 7 is the MOST Oscar movie because it’s a movie about social change meant to make white people feel good (at the expense of acknowledging all the ways in which white supremacy inhibits social change). There are excellent works from Black filmmakers in 2020 addressing social change, but I am afraid the Academy is not yet diverse enough for those films to rise to the top at the expense of something as pedestrian as Chicago 7, which is basically what happened this year. We’ll talk about snubs in a separate post, but this mediocrity getting more nominations than films like Da 5 Bloods, One Night In Miami, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is embarrassing and will age like milk.
That said, some of these nominations are actually good. Promising Young Woman scored five nominations, including Best Director for Emerald Fennell, who, along with Chloe Zhao, marks the first time two women are simultaneously nominated in the category. Nomadland scored six nominations, as did Minari, including Best Actor for Steven Yeun, Best Supporting Actress for Youn Yuh-jung, and Emile Mosseri did come through in Best Score for his delicate work. Judas and the Black Messiah also got six nominations, including a late-breaking nomination for LaKeith Stanfield in Best Supporting Actor, which says a lot about how his peers regard his work, since he had little momentum going into this morning. Also, Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) got nominated for Best Director, taking a spot that could have gone to Aaron Sorkin but mercifully did not. I am SO glad to be wrong about that one. The Oscar nominations are not total garbage across the board, but Mank being the most nominated film and Chicago 7 ranking equally alongside superior works like Minari, Nomadland, and Judas feels like the bad old days.
See the full list of nominees here.