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SYFY WIRE Oscars 2020

Oscars 2020: Us actress Lupita Nyong'o snubbed, Joker's dominance surprises

By Jacob Oller
Joker makeup

Awards season is coming to an end now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced their nominations for the 2020 Oscar season — but that doesn't mean everything has gone according to the indicators laid out by the guild and critic nominations leading up to this point.

In fact, the Academy Awards have nominated all sorts of unexpected films (or given way more nominations to expected films than anyone thought possible) and left those of conventional wisdom off the docket completely. The snubs and surprises for the 2020 Oscars, which made Joker its most-nominated film, were plentiful.

Many of the surprises were of a non-genre nature (apparently the Academy loved The Two Popes), but there were some seriously shocking selections made in the worlds of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi as well. Joker was a heavy favorite for plenty of nominations coming into the announcement, with love from the guilds and the Golden Globes going to both star Joaquin Phoenix, director Todd Phillips, and its technical departments. So it's no wonder that Phoenix scored a nomination for Best Actor. However, it also earned nods for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Score, Makeup and Hair, and Costume Design. That's eleven total nominations (the most for any movie at this year's Oscars) for a superhero movie: yes, the Academy is smitten with Arthur Fleck.

Other surprises came in the world of animation. The Pixar/Disney dominant category saw its corporate overlords suffer a bit of a blow, with Frozen II missing out on the main category in favor of Toy Story 4KlausMissing Link, I Lost My Body, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. That's two Netflix animations (one, I Lost My Body, in a foreign language), a stop-motion LAIKA joint, and an underdog series' finale. Keep in mind that The Lion King, Disney's other big animated venture this year, wasn't even submitted for this category.

But that didn't stop the photorealistic animals from scoring a nomination for Visual Effects. Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker both had effect nominations from the VFX Society, so their nominations alongside The Lion King was no surprise. This was the only nod for Endgame, while RoS also landed nominations for Sound Editing and John Williams' score, pushing the composer's record for Oscar nominations further out of reach for his peers.

Random nods here and there went to genre films like Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Hair and Makeup), The Lighthouse (Cinematography) and Ad Astra (Sound Mixing), but mostly the films were running the categories or not showing up at all.

For example, Parasite, Bong Joon Ho's delightfully satirical thriller, made quite a showing as well, earning nods for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing, International Film, and Production Design. But it missed out on any of the acting categories, which was the site of another snub. A crushing absence was Us actress Lupita Nyong'o, who'd gained plenty of critical traction for the Best Actress slot. Instead, Scarlett Johansson was nominated for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress...and not even for hurling herself to her death in Endgame. Now that's surprising.

The hostless Oscars ceremony will be held on Feb. 9.