Let’s all give Jennifer Lopez a round of applause for an awards season battle well fought.
The “Hustlers” star, whose supporting performance as Ramona was highly praised and earned her Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Indie Spirit nominations, was among the many actors left off the 92nd Oscars ballot. J.Lo was cast aside, as was Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”), Awkwafina (“The Farewell”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“Us”) in shocking upsets.
And the Academy, once again, chose to honor five men with Best Director nominations despite incredible work by Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”), Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) and Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”).
HuffPost culture reporters talk more about the snubs that made a Monday morning even worse.
Jennifer Lopez, Jenny From The Block, J.Lo
This one hurts. Lopez was dubbed an immediate front-runner when “Hustlers” opened in September, but maybe that’s the problem: She had to maintain the momentum for four long months. (Little did she know Kathy Bates was waiting in the wings to steal from her.) Hollywood spent three decades taking Lopez for granted, so why should anything change now? But the hope was real. This was a career-defining performance in a giant box-office hit that had critics and audiences rethinking their assumptions about J.Lo’s talents. Furthermore, her omission underscores how the Academy views women: Apparently playing a stripper who isn’t down on her luck wasn’t important enough for the Oscars. Boo. ― Matthew Jacobs
Adam Sandler Doesn’t Make The Cut
If someone told me a year ago that I’d be rooting for Adam Sandler at the Oscars, I would’ve assumed they had a “50 First Dates”-esque affliction, because my distaste for his films and performances is long and well-documented. And yet the joke’s on me, because here we are. The famed comedic actor turned out the performance of his career in the electric and deeply stressful Safdie brothers film “Uncut Gems” as a New York City jewelry dealer in the Diamond District having what amounts to the worst weeks of his life. Typically, when comedians go #dark they abandon the qualities that made them stars in the first place. But here, Sandler infuses this dramatic performance with his expert comedic timing and instincts to deliver a performance that feels tailor-made for his talents, while allowing him to show us a side of himself we’ve never seen on-screen before. And, for what it’s worth, we’ll be processing that ending in therapy for weeks to come. ― Cole Delbyck
Once Again, Lupita Nyong’o Deserves More
Lupita Nyong’o’s physically and emotionally taxing performance in Jordan Peele’s “Us” was one of the most exciting performances of last year, and yet, she’s been mostly shut out this awards season, failing to receive recognition at some of the biggest ceremonies, particularly the recent Golden Globes. Horror, of course, has always struggled to be taken seriously by awards voters, but culture writer Aisha Harris aptly pointed out on Twitter: “When [Lupita] played a slave, everyone fell over themselves to give her awards, but when she gives the best performance of her career (so far) as a troubled woman haunted by herself ... crickets.” ― Zeba Blay
Greta Gerwig, And All Other Female Directors, Scorned
In the lead-up to Oscar nominations, it was becoming alarmingly clear that Greta Gerwig might be left off the Best Director lineup, one-upped by the likes of Martin Scorsese for “The Irishman,” Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and Todd Phillips for “Joker.” And, sadly, she was ― with Sam Mendes and Bong Joon Ho filling those final two slots for “1917” and “Parasite,” respectively. (Yay, Bong!) But Gerwig’s exquisite retelling of “Little Women” captured the progressive essence of a new generation, not to mention it stood its ground at the box office alongside franchise behemoths like “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Even if the directing field was stacked this year, she deserved more. As did the other women snubbed in this category, including Lulu Wang, whose profound film “The Farewell” was the subject of awards season chatter from the time it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last January. ― Leigh Blickley
Justice For ‘The Farewell’ And Awkwafina
Wang’s moving tale of death, family and class was completely shut out of the Oscar race, receiving, get ready for it, not one nomination. Surprising is an understatement, as it was thought that at least Awkwafina ― who just took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Pitcure - Musical or Comedy earlier this month ― would become the first Asian-American woman to be nominated in the Best Actress category at the Oscars. And what about Shuzhen Zhao, AKA Nai Nai? Shame on you, Academy. This one hurts. ― LB
Eddie Murphy’s Big Comeback Ignored
One of the big movie moments of last year was Eddie Murphy’s “return” in the joyous and surprisingly heartwarming comedy “Dolemite Is My Name.” Murphy plays down-on-his luck entertainer Rudy Ray Moore who creates a foul-mouthed, larger-than-life persona named Dolemite, eventually putting all his time and money into making a Blaxploitation film so bad that it’s good. While the Best Actor race this year was certainly a close one, it’s surprising that “Dolemite” got zero nominations. Not even costume design, guys? ― ZB
Beyoncé didn’t just give you one song for the live-action “The Lion King” remake, she gave you a whole damn album ... and will be respected as such! The music icon delivered an incredible soundscape for the Jon Favreau-directed feature, while pulling double duty and voicing Nala with a regal sensibility reserved only for Queen B. The soundtrack saluted the performer’s family and African ancestors, as she collaborated with producers, singers and culture makers across the continent to showcase both its rich history and modern stars to a global audience. While “Spirit” isn’t necessarily a standout track on the album ― “Brown Skin Girl” or “Bigger” would’ve been our top choices for Oscar contenders ― it’s about time Beyoncé get all her things, including a long-awaited Academy Award after she was snubbed all the way back in 2007 for her work in “Dreamgirls.” On the bright side, at least we avoided a music superstar showdown, as Taylor Swift’s “Beautiful Ghosts” from “Cats” also didn’t receive a nomination ... or even make the Best Original Song shortlist. ― CD
‘Atlantics’ Overlooked For International Feature Film
Director Mati Diop’s dreamy ghost love story “Atlantics” was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful movies of last year. The film was selected as the Senagalese entry for Best International Feature Film for the Oscars, and made the December shortlist, but the fact that it wasn’t ultimately nominated alongside movies like “Parasite,” “Les Miserables” and “Pain and Glory” feels like a misstep on the Academy’s part. African cinema has been notoriously overlooked by the Academy in the past, and though niche, “Atlantics” was one of the most praised and talked about movies of last year. ― ZB
The ‘Parasite’ Cast, Anyone?
None of the Korean “Parasite” cast is well-known in America, which weakened the actors’ odds of securing individual nominations. But the movie ran a fierce campaign, and it seemed like Song Kang-ho had a decent Supporting Actor shot. Alas, not even he cracked the shortlist, which could have wider repercussions come Oscar night. Films without acting recognition don’t tend to win Best Picture, so now the question is whether “Parasite” can still conquer the top prize, which has never gone to a foreign-language title. ― MJ
Taron Egerton’s Best Actor Rocket Fails To Take Off
If there was one person who did all he could to secure an Oscar nomination, it was Taron Egerton. His gutsy performance as Elton John in the fantastical biopic “Rocketman” was critically praised as he both imitated and reinvented a music icon. He sang! He danced in platform shoes! He wore very large hats and prosthetic teeth! Stellar impersonations are normally celebrated by the Academy ― think Rami Malek’s win for “Bohemian Rhapsody” last year or Gary Oldman for “Darkest Hour” in 2018 ― but Egerton’s miss might have come down to timing. “Rocketman” arrived in theaters in May, way before the Oscar race really kicked off in September. The 30-year-old actor took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, but it seems the stretch of time between the film’s release and the nominations just might have edged Egerton out of the race. ― LB