Oscar nominations: ‘Joker’ dominates, but diversity seriously lacking

Only one actor of color gets a nod, and no women are in the running for best director.

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The 92nd Academy Awards will take place Feb. 9.

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Female filmmakers were shut out, “Parasite” made history and “Joker” edged out “The Irishman,” “1917” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” in Monday’s Oscar nominations.

Todd Phillips’ R-rated superhero smash “Joker” topped all films with 11 nominations to the 92nd Academy Awards, while Martin Scorsese’s elegiac crime epic “The Irishman,” Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s Los Angeles fairy tale “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and Sam Mendes’ continuous World War I tale “1917” all trailed close behind with 10 nods apiece.

Those four were among the nine films nominated for best picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The others were: Greta Gerwig’s Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women,” Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama “Marriage Story,” Taika Waititi’s Nazi Germany romp “Jojo Rabbit,” James Mangold’s racing drama “Ford v Ferrari” and Bong Joon Ho’s class satire “Parasite” — the first Korean film to be nominated and only the 11th non-English best picture nominee.

“Joker,” which gives the DC Comics villain an antihero spin cribbed from Scorsese, was expected to do well. But the academy’s overwhelming support for a divisive movie that was far from a critical favorite was unexpected. Its nominations included best actor for Joaquin Phoenix and best director for Phillips.

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Joaquin Phoenix dances down steps in the Bronx in a scene from “Joker.”

Warner Bros.

Though a record 62 women (or about a third of nominees) were nominated Monday, the academy put the most weight behind a handful of swaggering male-driven movies predicated on virtuosity, spectacle and star power. For the 87th time, the academy selected all-male directing nominees.

“Congratulations to those men,” said Issa Rae, who presented the nominees alongside John Cho.

There were many surprises. Awkwafina, who was poised to become just the second Asian American nominated for best actress, wasn’t nominated for her acclaimed leading performance in “The Farewell.” Also overlooked was “Frozen 2,” the highest grossing animated film ever but not a nominee for best animated film, and Beyoncé, for her “Lion King” song.

Most glaringly, Jennifer Lopez, long considered a supporting actress front-runner for her performance in “Hustlers,” was also denied her first Oscar nomination.

Those oversights left the Oscars with their least diverse field since the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the film academy to diversify its membership. The only actor of color nominated was British actress Cynthia Erivo for her Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”

Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” however, made history for South Korea. Along with the country’s first nomination for best international film, “Parasite” also scored nods for Bong’s direction, best editing and best production design.

No filmmaking couple has had an Oscar nominations morning quite like Gerwig and “Marriage Story” director Noah Baumbach. Their movies were each nominated for best picture, best screenplay (adapted for Gerwig; original for Baumbach) and six nominations in total.

Nominations for “Marriage Story” included nods for its leads, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Dern for best supporting actress. Johansson, also nominated for her supporting turn in “Jo Jo Rabbit,” became the first two-time acting nominee since Cate Blanchett managed the feat in 2007.

Also nominated for best actress was Renée Zellweger, considered the front-runner for her Judy Garland in “Judy”; Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”); and Soairse Ronan (“Little Women”). Just 25 years old, Ronan now has four Oscar nominations.

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Renée Zellweger is nominated for the best actress Oscar for her performance as Judy Garland in “Judy.”

Roadside Attractions

Joining Driver, DiCaprio and Phoenix for best actor were Jonathan Pryce, who stars as Pope Francis in “The Two Popes”; and Antonio Banderas, who plays a semi-fictionalized version of director Pedro Almodóvar in “Pain and Glory.”

No category was more competitive this year. Those left out were themselves a formidable group: Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”), Robert De Niro (“The Irishman”), Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”).

Sandler on Twitter responded: “Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the academy. Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits.”

Tom Hanks received his first Oscar nomination in 19 years for playing Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” But Pitt, who is heading toward his first acting Academy Award, is the overwhelming favorite among the supporting actor nominees.

“American Factory,” the first film from Barack and Michelle Obama’s recently launched production company, Higher Ground, was nominated for best documentary.

“Honeyland,” about a wild bee keeper in rural Macedonia, became the first film ever nominated for both best documentary and best international film.

The 92nd Academy Awards, which will again go hostless, will be held Feb. 9 in Los Angeles and broadcast live on ABC.

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