History-making Oscar noms leave top prize up for grabs

Best picture Oscar nominees for the 91st Academy Awards (Top L-R) Boseman "Black Panther", Gaga "A Star is Born", Washington "BlacKkKlansman", Bale "Vice", Aparicio "Roma", Ali "Green Book", Malek "Bohemain Rhapsody", Colman "The Favourite". Photo: Reuter
Best picture Oscar nominees for the 91st Academy Awards (Top L-R) Boseman "Black Panther", Gaga "A Star is Born", Washington "BlacKkKlansman", Bale "Vice", Aparicio "Roma", Ali "Green Book", Malek "Bohemain Rhapsody", Colman "The Favourite". Photo: Reuters

Netflix movie "Roma" and British historical romp "The Favourite" from Fox Searchlight led nominations for the Oscars on Tuesday in a history-making lineup that left the best picture race wide open.

The lists for the highest honours in the movie industry were packed with people of colour, including nominees from Mexico, Greece and Poland, as well as films featuring the stories of women and gay and black people.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's semiautobiographical, black-and-white tale "Roma" scored a first best picture nod for streaming service Netflix Inc. It will also compete in the foreign language film category, where it is widely considered a shoo-in..

"Roma" and "The Favourite" shared a leading 10 nods, followed by Lady Gaga musical "A Star is Born" and scathing political comedy "Vice" with eight apiece.

Walt Disney Co's "Black Panther," which collected seven nods, became the first superhero movie in the 91-year history of the Academy Awards to win a best picture nomination.

Best director Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Cuaron, Pawlikowski, McKay, Lee and Lanthimos. Photo: Reuters
Best director Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Cuaron, Pawlikowski, McKay, Lee and Lanthimos. Photo: Reuters

"There is now no clear front-runner for best picture, making it an enormously suspenseful Oscar race," Tom O'Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com said in a telephone interview.

Shot entirely in Spanish and an indigenous Mexican language, "Roma" scored nominations across the board, including director, lead actress Yalitza Aparicio as a maid, supporting actress Marina de Tavira, screenplay, and multiple technical fields.

"It's a movie centered on a domestic worker of indigenous origin who's being celebrated. That's what gives me the most pleasure," Cuaron told Mexico City local radio program "Aristegui Noticias."

Aparicio, 25, who had never acted professionally, said she was "humbled and honoured."

Best actress Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Lady Gaga, Aparicio, Close, Colman and McCarthy. Photo: Reuters
Best actress Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Lady Gaga, Aparicio, Close, Colman and McCarthy. Photo: Reuters

"As a daughter of a domestic worker and an indigenous woman myself, I am proud this movie will help those of us who feel invisible be seen," she said in a statement.

The Oscars, chosen by the 8000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will be handed out in Hollywood on Feb. 24.

"The Favourite," set in the court of 18th-century British monarch Queen Anne, garnered nods for its British star, Olivia Colman, and supporting actresses Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos was also nominated for the film.

"Yorgos has such a unique vision. He is very witty, he takes a lot of risks," Ceci Dempsey, one of the film's producers, said in a telephone interview. "It's a remarkable feeling to have a film with so many women in it get so many nominations."

Best actor Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Bale, Malek, Cooper, Mortensen and Dafoe. Photo: Reuters
Best actor Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Bale, Malek, Cooper, Mortensen and Dafoe. Photo: Reuters

Warner Bros. "A Star is Born," led by best actress contender Lady Gaga in her debut in a major movie, earned eight nods, including for Gaga's hit song "Shallow." But while Bradley Cooper will compete in the best actor category, he was snubbed in the director's race.

Other snubs included the all-Asian cast romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians," which got nothing, "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler, and "If Beale Street Could Talk," which was excluded from the best picture race but won a supporting actress nod for Regina King.

Crowd-pleaser "Bohemian Rhapsody" was nominated for five awards, including Egyptian-American Rami Malek for his role as Queen front man Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991.

est supporting actress Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Weisz, Stone, King, Adams and de Tavira (not pictured) . Photo: Reuters
est supporting actress Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Weisz, Stone, King, Adams and de Tavira (not pictured) . Photo: Reuters

Gay and lesbian campaign group GLAAD said another three of the eight best picture nominees touched on gay issues, reflecting what it said was "a banner year for LGBTQ inclusion in film."

Veteran actress Glenn Close, who has yet to win an Oscar, will compete for the seventh time, this year for her lead role in "The Wife."

"Green Book" about the friendship that develops between a black pianist and his white driver in the 1960s, won nods for stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, but not for director Peter Farrelly. Nevertheless, the film remains a strong best picture contender after a win at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday.

The Oscar ceremony looks set to take place without a host after the withdrawal in December of comedian Kevin Hart due to past homophobic comments he made on Twitter.

Best supporting actor Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Ali, Driver, Elliott, Grant and Rockwell. Photo: Reuters
Best supporting actor Oscar nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards (L-R) Ali, Driver, Elliott, Grant and Rockwell. Photo: Reuters

Oscars snubs for Cooper, Blunt, Chalamet

The academy surprisingly failed to recognise Bradley Cooper in the best director category for his retelling of the classic story about an up-and-coming performer in A Star is Born.

Cooper was nominated for best actor for his portrayal of tormented country star Jackson Maine, and also for adapted screenplay as a co-writer and in the best picture category as a producer.

"He was widely anticipated to be a surefire contender" for best director, Screen International editor Matt Mueller said in an interview.

Cooper may have lost out to Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, an unexpected nominee for his foreign-language romance "Cold War." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, has expanded its international membership in recent years, and that may have helped Pawlikowski, Mueller said.

While blockbuster movie "Black Panther" scored seven nominations, including one for best picture, director Ryan Coogler did not make it into the slate of directing nominees.

The film academy selected eight movies for the top prize of best picture, even though rules allow for up to 10 nominees. One omission was "If Beale Street Could Talk," director Barry Jenkins' first new film since his best picture winner "Moonlight" two years ago.

Emily Blunt also had been seen as a possible competitor in the best actress race for "Mary Poppins Returns" but did not make the list, while "Beautiful Boy" actor Timothée Chalamet, known for his Oscar nominated performance in last year's "Call Me By Your Name", also missed out after being predicted to make it onto the ballot.

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