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Will the Oscar Nominations Actually Include Women or People of Color?

91st Oscars title card.

We’re less than a week away from the announcement of the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards, and things are looking good for many front runners, but not so great for our chances for a diverse field of nominees. With women shut out of the Golden Globes and DGAs and the BAFTAs giving us a shockingly and completely white slate of nominees, it’s up to the Oscars to hopefully get some new, diverse blood in.

Let’s look at the big categories and who we think will, and should get nominations, and what that could mean.

Best Supporting Actress:

If there’s an award that already seems sewn up, it’s this one. Laura Dern, BAFTA, and SAG nominee and Golden Globe Winner feels all but anointed to be nominated, and to win, for her work in Marriage Story, which is fine. She’s great in the role but I still think Jennifer Lopez deserves it for Hustlers. Lopez is pretty certain to get a nomination (at least I hope she is), but the remainder of the field is anyone’s guess.

I think Scarlett Johansson might get in there for her work in JoJo Rabbit, and maybe SAG nominee and BAFTA double nominees Margot Robbie for either Bombshell or Once Upon a Tim in Hollywood … even if neither of those performances is particularly fantastic. Maybe Annette Benning for The Report or Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell, who both got Golden Globe noms, will sneak in.

But we’d love to see Zhao Shuzhen of The Farewell or Da’Vine Joy Randolph of Dolomite is My Name to get more diversity on the list and change things up and the odds say that might happen.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actor:

This is another one that many feel is a forgone conclusion: It’s Brad Pitt’s year and he’ll be nominated and win not so much for his work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but for being, well, Brad Pitt. Who will join him in the race? We’ll probably get a double Irishman bill with nods of Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, and Tom Hanks also seems like a shoo-in for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

But, ugh, this list though is even whiter than best supporting actress. Could we break the monotony and get Jamie Foxx in there for Just Mercy, as we saw with the SAG awards or even Song Kang Ho of Parasite? Taika Watiti for Jojo Rabbit? Or will it go to a fifth white guy, like Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes?

Lupita Nyong'o in Us (2019) Universal Pictures

Best Actress

Again, and sadly, it’s felt like this one has had a predictable frontrunner for a while in the “awards narratives” but there’s more room here for some upsets. Renee Zellweger will get nominated for Judy even though no one really saw it. And the initial shortlist looks to be an embarrassment of skinny blonde ladies: ScarJo for Marriage Story, Charlize Theron for Bombshell (even though no one is seeing the movie either) and, maybe most deservedly, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women.

But we hope the Oscars find a spot for Globe-winner Awkwafina for The Farewell rather than Charlize. Lupita Nyong’o of Us and Cynthia Erivo of Harriet were both nominated for the SAG best actress award so it’s totally possible to nominate more than one woman of color for an award!

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)

Best Actor

This category is insanely stacked this year – which says a lot about the male-dominated stories Hollywood’s old guard was into and it’s kind of depressing. We’rel looking at for sure nominations for Joaquin Phoenix for Joker (sigh), Adam Driver for Marriage Story (yes!) and our old friend Leonardo DiCaprio for OUATIH (snore). Who could come in and shake this up? Well, Taron Eggerton’s great turn in Rocketman has momentum coming off his Globe win and SAG and BAFTA nominations … but the fifth SAG nominee was Christian Bale and do we really want an entirely white slate here? Or Johnathan Pryce like the BAFTAs?

No! Let’s hope Eddie Murphy gets on for Dolomite is my Name, Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory. I’ll take either of those over Robert DiNiro again. Or maybe Adam Sandler will surprise us all with a nom for Uncut Gems.

Little Women

Best Director

This is the category with the most potential to give us an incredibly infuriating set of nominees. We could very well end up with the following five: Quentin Tarantino for OUATIH, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story, Sam Mendes for 1917 and Todd Phillips for Joker and please god NO.

Let me live in the alternate, happier world where the list looks more like the Directors Guild nominees with spots for Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit. Let’s get Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller or Lorene Scafaria in! So many great films this year were directed by women and we will all be rightfully outraged if we don’t get at least one on the director nomination list.


Best Picture

This one is tricky because the new standard of up to ten nominees means that there’s the potential for a lot of surprises on this list—and a lot of foregone conclusions as well. Here’s what I think/hope we’ll see on the list: 1917, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Parasite, Marriage Story, The Irishman, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit, and yes … Joker. There’s still room for or Knives Out or even Ford v. Ferrari to get on here, which both just scored Producers Guild nominations, but we’ll have to see how it works out. I hope The Farewell makes it on.

We’ll see what makes it on the list soon enough when the nominations are announced next Monday, January 13th. The Oscars themselves will air on ABC on Sunday, February 9th.

(Image: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.