Oscar Nominations 2020: ‘Joker’ and ‘Irishman’ Lead the Nominees

By Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” “1917” and “Parasite” were also among the films receiving multiple nominations.

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“Joker” led the Academy Award contenders with 11 nominations, including best picture.

LOS ANGELES — The 92nd Academy Awards will be a showdown between old and new Hollywood: Netflix amassed a leading 24 nominations on Monday, including best picture honors for “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” but traditional studios were only a heartbeat behind.

Despite a plethora of diverse films competing for Oscar love this year, the Academy largely maintained its traditional point of view, handing out the most nominations to four very male, very white films. “Joker” (Warner Bros.) led all films with 11 nominations, including ones for best picture, director (Todd Phillips), actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and score (Hildur Guðnadóttir). The visually dazzling World War I epic “1917” (Universal) and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Sony) each received 10, including best picture recognition. “The Irishman” also garnered 10.

The best-picture category can have as many as 10 or as few as five nominees, depending on how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spreads its support. This year there were nine. Joining “Joker,” “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” and “1917” were “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women” and “Parasite.”

ImageJoaquin Phoenix in the “Joker,” which led the Academy Award contenders with 11 nominations, including best picture.
Joaquin Phoenix in the “Joker,” which led the Academy Award contenders with 11 nominations, including best picture.Credit...Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

Black actors and actresses were largely overlooked, with the British-Nigerian actress Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) as the sole nominee. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has mounted an effort to double female and minority membership, in large part by inviting in more film professionals from overseas. But even after four years of the initiative, the organization remains 68 percent male and 84 percent white. The director’s branch again overlooked women, bypassing acclaimed work from Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and others.

But the membership showed signs of progress with its recognition for Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which earned six nominations, including its best picture nomination — the first one ever for a South Korean film.

Over the last decade, the Academy Awards have become a bit superfluous, with a torrent of precursor ceremonies leaving fans (and honorees) exhausted and the contents of the envelopes unsurprising. The academy’s board of governors, alarmed by sharp declines in television ratings, decided in 2018 to move up this year’s ceremony. It will be held on Feb. 9, two weeks earlier than the last go-round, a seemingly small truncation that nonetheless has the movie capital in a tizzy.

ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars, said last week that the ceremony, viewed by roughly 30 million people in the United States, would not have a host for the second year in a row. Hosting is a thankless job that many celebrities turn down; fully vetting a host (scrubbing their social media accounts for potentially offensive comments) is time-consuming and far from foolproof; and last year’s host-free show stopped the ratings free-fall.

The lead actor Oscar nominations went to Joaquin Phoenix, for his mentally ill outcast in “Joker”; Adam Driver, for his portrayal of a woebegone husband in “Marriage Story”; and Leonardo DiCaprio, who played a washed-up actor in “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Antonio Banderas was also included, with Oscar voters admiring his performance as a gravely depressed Spanish filmmaker in Pedro Almodóvar’s little-seen “Pain and Glory.” Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”) rounded out the category.

That left out stars like Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”), Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”), Robert De Niro (“The Irishman”) and Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”), as well as the relative newcomer Taron Egerton (“Rocketman”).

The nominees for best actress are Erivo (“Harriet”), Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”), Saoirse Ronan (“Little Women”), Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”) and Renée Zellweger (“Judy”).

The nominees for best actress in a supporting role are Kathy Bates (“Richard Jewell”), Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”), Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”), Florence Pugh (“Little Women”) and Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”).

The nominees for best actor in a supporting role are Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Anthony Hopkins (“The Two Popes”), Al Pacino (“The Irishman”), Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”) and Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”).

The nominees for best director are Bong (“Parasite”), Sam Mendes (“1917”), Todd Phillips (“Joker”), Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”) and Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”).

The acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho delivered one of the year’s most beloved movies, the drama-comedy-horror mash-up “Parasite.” It was nominated for best picture, and Bong was honored for his direction. “Parasite” also figured into the original screenplay and international film categories as well. (The academy retired the “best foreign-language film” name after last year’s ceremony; the prize is now called “best international feature.”)

Gerwig, Wang, Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”), Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”) and Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”) delivered well-reviewed movies that connected at the box office in 2019.

But women have been pushed aside for directing honors, with the Globes and the influential Directors Guild of America giving all of their award nominations to men.

The Oscars were no different. Gerwig was overlooked, though her script for “Little Women” was nominated and the film was given a nod for best picture. Gerwig would have made history as the first woman to become a two-time directing nominee. Only five women have ever been nominated for best director in the history of the Academy Awards, and Gerwig is one, having been honored for “Lady Bird” in 2018.

With its dump truck of campaign cash and numerous films in contention, including the documentary “American Factory” and the animated “Klaus” and “I Lost My Body,” Netflix had a very good morning — especially considering how new it is to the Oscars. The streaming service only received its first best-picture nomination last year (“Roma”). The first time it won anything was in 2018, when “Icarus” collected the Oscar for best documentary.

Nominating “American Factory,” about a Chinese billionaire who reopened an Ohio automotive plant, was the equivalent of sending an Oscar invitation to Barack and Michelle Obama. The former president and first lady have a multiyear production deal with Netflix, and “American Factory,” produced with Participant Media, was their first release.