Joy for Irish but the nods lean too much to the mainstream
First: a great deal of joy in Ireland for its tremendous successes in Oscar nominations. Martin McDonagh’s tragicomedy The Banshees Of Inisherin has a host of nominations including best picture. In addition, Paul Mescal gets a best actor nomination for his performance in Charlotte Wells’s beautiful drama Aftersun; Colm Bairéad’s The Quiet Girl gets nominated for best international feature and Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s An Irish Goodbye is nominated for best short.
Otherwise, some unease at the gravitational pull towards the mainstream: an all-male directing list and Danielle Deadwyler’s excellent performance in Till is ignored in the best actress list. There has been some haughty online dismissal of Ana De Armas’s nomination in Andrew Dominik’s arguably condescending psychodrama Blonde, and a mixed response on social media for the estimable Andrea Riseborough’s best actress nod for the tough indie drama To Leslie, largely due to a celebrity-driven viral campaign.
Cate Blanchett naturally takes pole position in the best actress list for her much-acclaimed über-conductor in Tár, a femaleFurtwängler supernova. However, the best actor list is harder to call — though it could well be that Austin Butler will clinch it for his heartfelt impersonation of Elvis Presley.
But the big hitter this year is definitely the surreal multiverse dramedy Everything Everywhere All at Once from writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, which has pulled off the vital trick of getting talked about by Academy voters and influencers.
But given that everyone is still worried about no one going to actual cinemas any more, what about the film that’s even outpacing Tom Cruise at the box office – James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water? It has nods for best picture, sound, visual effects, production design, but it is perhaps only a shoo-in for visual effects. I myself think it’s the sequel that we didn’t need, but Cameron may feel miffed on the night itself.
My guess is Spielberg’s richly warm-hearted autobiography The Fabelmans will get best picture, the Daniels will get director and the acting quartet could be Blanchett, Farrell, Hsu and Gleeson – but De Armas or Riseborough could get a late voting surge.